The Minnesota Wild have pulled off the biggest splash of NHL Free Agency by signing both free agent forward Zach Parise and free agent defenseman Ryan Suter.
Parise and Suter each received 13-year; $98 million deals to play for the Wild. The annual cap hit for each player will be $7.538 million Parise, a native of Minnesota, and Suter a native of Wisconsin, felt they had opportunity to do something special as members of the Minnesota Wild.
Both players have been linked since the start of their careers. They were both part of the star studded draft class in 2003, where the Predators took Suter seventh overall and the Devils took Parise 17th overall.
The story broke late Wednesday Morning by Michael Russo of the Minnesota Star Tribune, who reported that defensemen Ryan Suter had agreed to terms with the Wild, and minutes later he reported that Parise and Wild had agreed to terms.
Many people around the NHL believed the Minnesota Wild wanted both players to be the stars and faces of their franchise. Even before both players signed on Wednesday with the Wild, wheels had be turning that both players wanted to play together. Josh Reimer, of the NHL Home Ice, did an interview with Zach Parise Tuesday night as he landed in his home state of Minnesota.
According to Rimer Parise and Suter had been talking throughout the whole process of free agency.
“Ryan’s a great player,” Parise told Rimer. “He’s a top defenseman in this league. Those types of players don’t come around often. They’re tough to find. I’d love to play on a team with a defenseman like Ryan Suter. Immediately you’ve got your top defenseman, immediately you’ve got a power-play guy, you’ve got shutdown guy. Again those guys are hard to find, so to get an opportunity to play with him would be great.”
Both players were members of the silver medal-winning 2010 U.S. Olympic team. The pair were also teammates on the gold medal-winning 2004 USA World Junior Championship team as well as the 2002 American team that won gold at the IIHF under-18 World Championships. These events could have been driving factors to why they both chose the Wild.
Parise and Suter will be expected to perform at a high level with the Wild, and will they change of the fate of a franchise that has missed the playoffs four consecutive years. Both players join a Wild team that has a star filled lineup with players like; Dany Heatley, Devon Setoguchi, Mikko Koivu, and Nicklas Backstrom. The Wild are hoping with the acquisitions of these players that Minnesota can return to the Western Conference Finals, a place that have not been since 2003.
Parise, who turns 28 this summer missed most of the 2010-11 season with a knee injury, returned to his form this past season by scoring with 31 goals and 38 assists in 82 games for the New Jersey Devils. He added another eight goals and seven assists in 24 games in the playoffs. He helped lead the Devils to the Stanley Cup Final for the first time since 2003.
Suter, 27 played his entire seven-year career with Nashville coming off a four-year, $14 million contract that he signed in 2008. He has scored 38 goals and 200 assists in 542 career games with the Predators.
In a time in sports where they are no guarantees in winning championships, the Minnesota Wild have set themselves up to be good for many years to come.