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Wild star Parise back to 100 percent, can't wait for next season

Minnesota Wild forward Zach Parise (11) celebrates his goal in a game against the Edmonton Oilers at Xcel Energy Center on April 2. Marilyn Indahl / USA TODAY Sports

LAKE MILLE LACS, Minn. — Minnesota Wild star Zach Parise was undoubtedly the team's best player down the stretch last season. He closed the regular season with 12 goals over the final 18 games and continued that offensive prowess into the postseason, scoring a goal in each of the first three games of a first-round series against the Winnipeg Jets.

Unfortunately for Parise, he finished last season on the shelf, as a fractured sternum on a random play at center ice ended his postseason before it could really even get going.

While it was another frustrating injury for the 33-year-old Parise, he had no interest in talking about it on Saturday afternoon at the second annual Wild On The Water on Lake Mille Lacs.

"I don't anticipate that being a problem," Parise said, confirming that he feels 100 percent and shifting the focus ahead to next season. "It feels good."

In fact, Parise is feeling so good on his road to recovery that he has decided to participate in Da Beauty League, a weekly 4-on-4 league that features dozens of NHL players. He played in his first game last week at Braemar Arena in Edina, and while there wasn't much contact, it gave him a taste of an actual game.

"It was good," Parise said, noting that he still hasn't taken a hit. "I've been skating for awhile, so it wasn't my first time or anything like that."

Besides the fluky injury in the postseason, Parise also missed nearly half of last season after having back surgery in mid-October. He has no concerns about either of those injuries heading into next season, pointing to his play down the stretch as evidence that he was on his way to feeling back to normal.

"It was nice to feel normal again on the ice," Parise said. "That was the biggest thing for me. It had been awhile. That was nice. That was relieving. I'm looking forward to doing that again next season."

In the meantime, Parise will continue to put in work this offseason with training camp only a couple of months away.

"It's really flown by," Parise said. "And I know it's only going to go quicker. All of sudden we're going to be in August here getting prepped for training camp. It's always an exciting time. It's always a fun time."