Zach Parise suited up in Wild gear Tuesday before taking to the ice at Xcel Energy Center as one of the faces of the franchise, just as he has for the past seven years.
But Parise’s affiliation could have suddenly changed Monday, as the Wild explored trading the 35-year-old winger — fizzled talks that have Parise uncertain about what his future looks like.
“I don’t know,” he said Tuesday morning. “I’m thinking about the Blue Jackets and winning this game and closing that gap in the playoffs [race].”
Although the Wild didn’t make any changes Monday, General Manager Bill Guerin acknowledged the team looked into moving Parise.
The Islanders were the reported destination, with veteran forward Andrew Ladd believed to be in the mix.
“I’ve known for about a week,” Parise said. “Pretty much [Guerin] came to me with something involving another team, and we talked about it, and that’s kind of the extent.”
Both players were reported to have deferred the protections in their contracts. Parise declined to say whether he waived his no-movement clause.
“I don’t like to talk about those types of conversations,” he said.
With Parise’s 13-year, $98 million contract one of the rare front-loaded deals still floating around the league before they were outlawed when the current collective bargaining agreement was implemented in 2013, any trade involving him would undoubtedly be complex and potentially difficult to execute — especially if salary retention (the Wild having to retain paying part of the salary and the cap hit) is part of the equation.
Parise said he wasn’t sure how close both sides got to a deal, but the possibility made for a stressful Monday and challenging lead-up to the deadline.
“You just don’t know,” he said. “Once it gets brought up to you, in your mind you’re thinking, ‘Am I leaving tomorrow? What’s going on here?’ Those [games] were hard to play. Now that that’s over, we can just worry about here and winning and getting ourselves into that wild-card spot.”
Despite the rumors, Parise didn’t feel uncomfortable Tuesday morning as he rejoined his teammates. He isn’t sure what’s in store for him moving forward, but he now has clarity for the time being.
“I love it here,” he said. “I always have. My goals here haven’t changed: it’s help this team. Not disappointed by any means that I’m here. I really enjoy playing here.”
The Wild debuted a different lineup against the Blue Jackets, starting call-up Gerald Mayhew on the top line next to Eric Staal and Kevin Fiala. That line contributed the game’s first goal, with Staal scoring his 18th of the season on an assist from Fiala.
Alex Galchenyuk also shifted to center after mostly lining up at wing since he was acquired from the Penguins on Feb. 10.
“As a winger in the ‘D’ zone, it’s kind of more standing and looking around,” Galchenyuk said. “As a center, you’re always a part of the game and a little more active. I’m looking forward to that.”
Galchenyuk played wing and center in juniors but started his NHL career at wing before moving to center.
“It’s always better to be versatile,” he said. “… I’m looking forward to the challenge.”
As for Mayhew, this is his second stint with the Wild this season. He scored two goals in seven games and was on a tear in the minors with Iowa, leading the AHL in goals (39) and points (61) when he was recalled Sunday.
• Center Luke Kunin, who suffered an upper-body injury Friday that is expected to keep him out 10-14 days, participated in the optional morning skate Tuesday. “Just working through the protocol of getting back in the lineup,” interim coach Dean Evason said.
• Former Wild coach Bruce Boudreau spent Monday on television, participating in Sportsnet’s NHL trade deadline day coverage.