Minnesota Wild forward Zach Parise will be out for the next 8-10 weeks after undergoing successful back surgery Tuesday, the team announced. That timetable puts his potential return somewhere around mid-to-late December at the earliest.
Parise’s back has been a source of ongoing issues since he first suffered an injury to the area in January 2016. He missed the 2016 playoffs, played through a herniated disk for all of last season, and hasn’t appeared yet on the ice this season after suffering another injury last month.
The winger had been practicing occasionally to try to work back into playing condition without surgery, but apparently it could not be avoided. According to the Wild, he underwent a microdiscectomy procedure, which involves removing tissue from a herniated disk that’s placing pressure upon a nerve root or the spinal cord.
The continued absence of Parise is another blow to a Minnesota team that’s seen its depth decimated by injuries early on this season. In addition to Parise, the Wild have also been without Charlie Coyle, Nino Niederreiter, Mikael Granlund, and Marcus Foligno for stretches already this season. Granlund could make his season debut Tuesday, but this team is still a long way from full strength.
The long-term implications of Parise’s health are also important for the Wild given their contractual commitment to him. The forward is in the sixth year of a 13-year, $98 million contract that includes an annual cap hit of $7.538 million, so he’s going to be on their books until 2025.
If the injury continues getting worse, long-term injured reserve could be one way to alleviate the cap issues presented by his deal. Parise could also retire, but given the way the Wild structured his deal, they’d likely be hit with a salary cap recapture penalty if that happens.
Parise’s numbers have already taken a step back from his prime. Over the past three seasons, he’s recorded 77 goals and 157 points in 213 regular season games. In his final four seasons with the Devils before signing in Minnesota, the winger recorded 117 goals and 251 points in 258 games. That’s a drop in per-game point production from 0.97 to 0.74.
The Wild have kept their head above water so far this season with a 2-2-2 record over six games. They’ll have to keep battling while various key players, including Parise, recover from injuries.