Zach Parise is expected to play in his first game of the season on Thursday but it won’t be with the Wild.
The veteran winger will make his 2017-18 debut as a member of the Iowa Wild against Rockford in an American Hockey League game. It’s another step in Parise’s return from the microdiscectomy surgery he had on his back in late October.
Parise has been practicing for the past couple of weeks but only recently was cleared for full contact. The current plan is for Parise to play Thursday, return to the Wild on Friday and then possibly play for Iowa in a New Year’s Day game against Chicago.
Wild coach Bruce Boudreau said Parise could be back on the ice for the Wild in early January, but that’s assuming everything goes according to plan.
Parise has dealt with back issues in two of the past three seasons and missed the playoffs in 2015 because of a herniated disk. He had 19 goals and 23 assists in 69 games last season. That was his fewest goals and points during a season in which he played more than 50 games since his rookie year in 2005-06.
Parise is in the sixth season of a 13-year, $98 million contract.