Ryan Suter, Zach Parise to Minnesota Wild: Why They Still Aren't Cup Contenders
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The fireworks are going off in Minnesota, and it has little to do with the 4th of July celebration.
The pressure was on general manager Chuck Fletcher to upgrade a team that has missed the playoffs for four straight seasons. When they made offers to both Parise and Suter, they put themselves in competition with the Pittsburgh Penguins and Detroit Red Wings for their services. It seemed admirable that they wanted to compete with the big boys, and if they could get one of those two stars, it would be a winning move.
Getting both of those players will allow the Wild to take a huge step up the NHL ladder.
However, the climb from playoff outsiders to Stanley Cup contenders takes time. The Wild will have surges next year and periods where they play impressive hockey. But, they won't win the Stanley Cup, and they won't get to the Stanley Cup Finals.
Yes, they will be a playoff team and can win a first-round playoff series. Winning a second-round series is a possibility, but they won't go further than that.
It will take time for Parise and Suter to fit in and find their way in the Wild system. It seems likely that Parise, a Minnesota native, will be able to assert himself with a bit more ease than Suter. Parise's all-around talent was on display during the New Jersey Devils' playoff run. He has speed, quickness and an explosive shot. But the key to his consistent production is his non-stop motor.
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This is often on display with his forechecking. Parise's quickness can put opposing defensemen on their heels. As a result, he can swoop in, force a turnover and create instant offense.
Parise is hard working and always hustling. He has had five seasons with 30 goals or more in the past six years. A 30-goal season is solid production in the NHL, but Minnesota fans will be looking for more from him.
Suter has been a solid defenseman for the Nashville Predators for the last seven seasons. He was an NHL All-Star participant in 2012 and is coming off a career-high 46-point season. But Suter has always been Robin to Shea Weber's Batman in Nashville. In Minnesota, they are not paying him to be the No. 2 defenseman. They are paying him to be top blueliner.
Suter has the skating ability, talent and instincts to do the job. But, he is a human being, and the move to Minnesota won't be easy. Very few players can come in and become the savior right away. He will make mistakes and he will have to make an adjustment to his new teammates.
The pressure factor will be multiplied dramatically in Minnesota. Media scrutiny will be obvious from the first day of training camp, and it will likely increase as the season progresses. How will Parise and Suter react to that? How will their teammates respond?
How far will the Minnesota Wild climb in the NHL next season?
Another factor that will keep the Wild from joining the first rank of NHL teams is head coach Mike Yeo. He has one NHL season under his belt, and after a solid start, the Wild were 35-36-11 last year. That was their worst finish in their four non-playoff seasons.
There's nothing to indicate that Yeo is ready to lead a team to the championship. Yeo's approach is that of a patient teacher, according to Anatoliy Metter of TheHockeyWriters.com, and that doesn't jibe with bringing in studs like Parise and Suter. The franchise and its fans want results right away.
That's an issue for Fletcher to confront right away. If he doesn't think that Yeo is the right man to lead a veteran team that includes established veterans like Mikko Koivu, Devin Setoguchi and Dany Heatley in addition to Parise and Suter, he would be better off changing his coach sooner rather than later.
If he does believe that Yeo is the right man, he's making a leap of faith without having any evidence to back up that contention.
The Wild have clearly made a move that will pay off for years to come. However, the team will still have to contend with Western Conference powers like the Los Angeles Kings, Vancouver Canucks, the San Jose Sharks and the Chicago Blackhawks. It won't be easy, and they won't overcome all the obstacles in 2012-13.
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