Wilson glad to have Parise

ROB LONGLEY, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 9:31 AM ET

NEWARK, N.J. -- He'll soon be in the market for Canadian killers, but Ron Wilson didn't have to look too far last night to find one on the Prudential Center ice.

In Devils leading scorer Zach Parise, the Leafs coach was afforded a close-up view of one of the best American-born players in the NHL, a sniper who no doubt will have a big role with the U.S. Olympic team Wilson will command next winter in Vancouver.

And as far as slaying the Canucks, the 24-year-old Parise has done it before with the U.S. squad that upset the talent-laden Canadians at the 2004 World Junior Championship in Helsinki.

"Not many people can say that (they beat the Canadians)," Parise said at yesterday's morning skate, smiling at the memory. "It was awesome. It was five years ago but I still remember everything about it.

"I would love to play (in the Olympics). Just watching in Italy last time ... you want to be a part of that. Hopefully we'll have a similar group of guys and get a chance to get that done again."

Parise was voted the tournament MVP for his efforts in Finland, helping the U.S. to its lone gold in the tourney's history. He has since represented his country three times at the world championships but it is his work in the NHL that has Wilson's attention.

"A lot of people have said this year that he's one of the top players in the league right now," Wilson said of Parise, whose 44 goals are third most in the league. "He's got a real hunger, a real drive for the net. He doesn't appear to be a really big guy yet he goes to the net as hard as any forward I know in the game."

All that being said, there's another quality Wilson appreciates even more. "He has an American passport which I am happy about."


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