Defenseman Ryan Suter and forward Zach Parise, both American-born, decided to package themselves to the Minnesota Wild on July 4, the American Independence Day. Both players signed identical 13-year, $98 million contracts, equaling about a $7.54 million cap-hit each. With signings bonuses, though, both players will collect $12 million in each of the next two seasons.
Suter, 27, was born in Madison, Wisconsin. He was drafted in the first round, 7th overall, in the 2003 NHL Entry Draft by the Nashville Predators. Suter has accumulated 38 goals and 200 assists with a plus-43 rating in 542 career NHL games. He has played seven seasons with the Nashville Predators.
Parise, 28, was born and raised in Minneapolis, Minnesota and was a fan of Minnesota hockey before being drafted in the first round, 17th overall, in the 2003 NHL Entry Draft by the New Jersey Devils. Parise has amassed 194 goals and 216 assists with a plus-57 in 502 career NHL games. Like Suter, Parise has played in seven NHL seasons. He was the captain of the Devils in 2011-12.
Both players are decorated USA Hockey players. They were a part of the 2010 USA Men’s Olympic Hockey Team who took home the Silver Medal from Vancouver. Parise was the hero who forced overtime in the Gold Medal Game against Canada when he scored with 24 seconds left.
Needless to say, the Wild organization as a whole is ecstatic over the signings.
“This is a great day in the history of the Minnesota Wild,” said Wild GM Chuck Fletcher in a conference call.
The most interesting comments of the day came from David Poile, GM of the Nashville Predators.
“(Suter) told me today that our offer was ‘substantial’ but that it was not about the money,” Poile said in a media conference call just after the signings were announced. “So I said, ‘Then I don’t know why you’re not re-signing with us.’ And he told me it was for family reasons. That’s where the disappointment comes in.
“The disappointing part is that’s not what we talked about all year long. I think we met Ryan’s desires on every front so today is very, very disappointing.”
Poile, along with Devils GM Lou Lamoriello, have every right to be upset. Parise and Suter were the cream-of-the-crop free-agents this summer. You can prepare yourself for their eventual departure, but you will not fully understand how vital they are to your success until they are off your NHL roster. Now, suddenly, they are your enemy.
The Wild, on the other hand, have thrust themselves into playoff contention. After trying out different coaches and personnel the past few seasons, the Wild have been unsuccessful in reaching the playoffs. This past season, the Minnesota team finished in 12th place with 81 points; this was 14 points outside of the 8th and final playoff seed in the Western Conference. They also finished with a -49 goal-differential, which was 3rd worst in the NHL.
Minnesota is a proud hockey state that has housed a slightly above-average NHL franchise since the Wild came into existence in the 2000-01 season. Only making the playoffs 3 times in 11 seasons, the Wild have finally earned that prestigious tag of “Stanley Cup contender.” If Parise and Suter can boost this club the way that they are expected to, the Wild may have their best season to date.
Other Notable Signings
Jaromir Jagr signs with Dallas Stars (1 year, $4.55M) – In his illustrious 18 NHL seasons, Jagr is yet to play with a Western Conference team. At the ripe age of 40, Jagr is finally taking his chance with a Western club. As for the Stars, they have added yet another piece to the puzzle. With a top-six of Jamie Benn, Loui Eriksson, Derek Roy, Michael Ryder, Ray Whitney and now Jagr (don’t forget about Brendan Morrow and Eric Nystrom), the Stars are shaping up to have an offense that packs a powerful punch.
Steve Sullivan signs with Phoenix Coyotes (1 year, $1.85M) – After losing last season’s top point-producer Ray Whitney to the Stars in free-agency, the Coyotes added another veteran player who is no stranger to putting up points. Sullivan, who scored 51 points on a defense-first Predators roster just three seasons ago, ranked 6th on the Pittsburgh Penguins last season with 48 points. While he may not be able to bring exactly what Whitney did, he does add speed and determination to the Coyotes’ roster. Consider the David Moss signing and the Coyotes will still throw out a balanced offensive attack next season…as long as Captain Shane Doan returns.