There is no question that free agent forward Zach Parise is the biggest free-agent prize in the 2012 class.
But while many teams have been vying for the star’s services, there has been a new contender that has shocked us all—the Minnesota Wild.
Not only is the Wild in the hunt for Parise, their major selling point is their attempt to get prized defensive free agent Ryan Suter to join the team as well.
Minnesota would be using the Miami Heat school of thought here.
If the Wild can sell both top-caliber players on the idea that Minnesota is the place where they could be happy and eventually win, there is a great chance that you could see Minnesota pull off the free-agent upsets of the century.
The Minneapolis StarTribune is reporting about the Wild’s pitch to both free agents and the proposition of getting the top players on the open market to agree to come together in the NHL equivalent of a Big 3:
"The crux of the pitch: The defenseman should come to Minnesota as part of a tag-team with friend and fellow hotly contested-for free agent Zach Parise…The Wild has made gargantuan long-term contract offers to both players. Exact figures haven't emerged, but teams interested in Parise are believed to be offering contracts worth $100 million and more, and Suter more than $80 million…Now it's only a matter of the two deciding if they want to play together in Minnesota and be part of package to help shape the future of a franchise or choose other destinations. Yes, there is a likelihood the Wild will either land both or neither."
That is an enormous amount of money, but the Wild have been fiscally responsible for a long time. Their salary cap issues are nonexistent, so signing these two players long-term could actually give Minnesota enough room to go out this season or next and get another big star.
With that much room for growth, both Parise and Suter have to legitimately consider joining forces in Minnesota. Both guys are relatively quiet and don’t like the spotlight, so selling them on the relaxed feel of Minnesota is a key point.
And don’t think for one second these two free agents haven’t been bouncing ideas off each other during this process. Suter and Parise are friends outside hockey, so the natural thought process was to possibly join forces.
Not many teams have the luxury of making that happen, but the Minnesota Wild do.
Parise told NHL insider for NextSportStar.com Josh Rimer about talking to Suter throughout this process and his thoughts on having a defender of Suter’s caliber on his team:
"We’ve talked. Ryan and I are friends. We’ve definitely talked throughout this thing…Ryan’s a great player. He’s a top defenseman in this league. Those type 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."
While all the planets seem to be aligning for the Wild, other teams may be trying to play spoiler and steal one or both of the stars.
Reports have the Pittsburgh Penguins and Philadelphia Flyers also attempting to make a double-signing with both Parise and Suter, but the defender has come out publicly and said he only wants to play for a Western Conference team.
While the Wild don’t have the most to offer, their unique franchise may just be incentive enough to get the duo to take the money and run to Minnesota. But if they can’t agree to play together or find a team that can properly facilitate that move, there is still a chance that certain teams could snag one or the other.
This is a wild free-agent ride that doesn’t appear to be ending anytime soon.
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