The Minnesota Wild shocked the hockey world on Wednesday, signing both Zach Parise and Ryan Suter to long-term contracts. The acquisitions have set the State of Hockey abuzz and have Minnesota looking to end a four-year playoff drought.
The Minnesota Wild went all-in for Zach Parise and Ryan Suter, and now both the players and the franchise are cashing in.
Parise and Suter, the crown jewels of the 2012 free agent class, each signed 13-year contracts worth $98 million with the Wild on Wednesday.
“Ryan and I had talked throughout the year,” Parise said in a half-hour long conference call Wednesday afternoon. "It's a great opportunity.
Suter and Wild General Manager Chuck Fletcher also participated in the call.
Both Parise and Suter are 27 years old and both have spent their seven-year NHL careers playing for one team; Parise with the New Jersey Devils and Suter with the Nashville Predators.
Parise, who captained the Devils to the Stanley Cup Final in June, totaled 410 points in 502 regular season games. Suter recorded 238 points in 542 games with Nashville.
The duo spoke with Devils GM Lou Lamoriello and Predators GM David Poile, respectively, to announce their decisions. Lamoriello and Poile each used the word “disappointed” to describe their reaction to losing the pre-eminent forward and defenseman on the free agent market.
“[I] told Lou I love playing in New Jersey,” Parise said. “[It was] very hard to leave. [Family was a] big part of it; [the] opportunity to play at home.
“[It] came down to New Jersey and Minnesota. I told Lou that. “He was very supportive. He couldn’t be nicer about it.”
Said Suter: “[It was] the toughest phone call I ever had to make.”
Suter said he spoke with Shea Weber after talking to Poile. Among the NHL’s best defensemen, Weber is a restricted free agent.
Poile told reporters in Nashville that the Predators’ intend “to build our franchise around and see if we can talk to he and his representative about a longer term contract.”
While July 4, 2012, was a devastating day in Newark and Nashville, it was watershed date for the Wild, long one of the most anonymous franchises in professional sports. With two signatures, the Wild have become a destination franchise for NHL players.
“This is a great day in the history of the Minnesota Wild," Fletcher said. "We’re excited to add [Parise’s and Suter’s] skill, experience and character to our franchise. [It is] great for our franchise,”
The additions of Parise, Suter, Torrey Mitchell, Zenon Konopka and Jake Dowell leave the Wild with just $2.876 million under the salary cap. The cap has been set at $70.2 million for next season but there is a widespread belief that the new CBA will lower the cap in the future.
Yet, Fletcher believes the Wild will be fine this season and in future seasons.
“We have cap space going forward to make adjustments to our roster," Fletcher said. "Zach and Ryan deserve a lot of credit,”
He added “both players wanted to come back to Minnesota and play for the Wild.”
Despite Minnesota missing the playoffs last year, the Wild are viewed by many as a franchise on the ascent due to high-end prospects Charlie Coyle, Jason Zucker, Mikael Granlund and Jonas Brodin. Minnesota is solid in goal with the tandem of Niklas Backstrom and Josh Harding, and skill forwards Dany Heatley, Mikko Koivu and Devin Setoguchi.
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