The Minnesota Wild sent shock waves through the NHL on Wednesday by signing the top two free agents available, forward Zach Parise and defenseman Ryan Suter, to massive long-term contracts, according to the Minneapolis Star Tribune and Wild insider Michael Russo.
Parise's deal is $98 million over 13 years for a cap hit at a little above $7.5 million; Suter's deal is 13 years. Working on AAV #mnwild— Michael Russo (@Russostrib) July 4, 2012
Per Lebrun, $98 million for Suter, too. They were a tandem #mnwild— Michael Russo (@Russostrib) July 4, 2012
While many Wild fans expected their team to have a strong chance to sign Parise because he was born in Minnesota, many of them could not have imagined that Suter would follow Parise to the Land of Ten Thousand Lakes.
Wild owner Craig Leipold was determined to make a big splash in free agency to help his team get back to the playoffs for the first time since the 2007-08 season.
The franchise has been past the first round of the playoffs just once in its brief history (lost in 2002-03 Western Conference finals), but with Suter and Parise, the team's future is as bright as it's ever been.
Let's look at last season's stats for both players and how their signings will affect the Wild and the teams they left.
What Does This Mean for the Wild?
These are phenomenal signings for the Wild, because Suter and Parise will help the team earn some much-needed national recognition in addition to their contributions on the ice.
What a way to breathe life into 1 of the NHL's least sexy franchises. Suter and Parise to Minny? Awesome for a good hockey town.— Mark Spector Sports (@SportsnetSpec) July 4, 2012
There aren't many players who are shutdown defensemen and fantastic puck-movers, but Suter is one of them.
Parise will bring leadership and goal-scoring qualities to the Wild. With talented forwards such as Dany Heatley, Devin Setoguchi, Mikko Koivu, Parise and prospect Mikael Granlund likely to be on the roster, the Wild should be a well-balanced offensive team in 2012-13.
The Wild will be contenders in the Western Conference for many years to come with Parise and Suter signed long-term.
The Devils not re-signing Parise is a massive loss for their fanbase. Adam Henrique is now the team's best young star, and after his impressive performance in the team's run to the Stanley Cup Final, he will likely be the focal point of the offense going forward.
They will also need to choose a new captain, with Parise's departure.
The Predators' loss of Suter could have a lasting effect. He was an alternate captain, their second-best defenseman and a force on the power play. Now that Suter has left, does this mean that captain Shea Weber will follow him out the door?
Darren Dreger of TSN tweeted some of Weber's options.
Shea Weber's options post-Suter: 1) accept Q.O at $7.5 mil. 2) wait for offer sheet. 3) sign longterm with Preds. 4) push for trade.— Darren Dreger (@DarrenDreger) July 4, 2012
If Suter and Weber leave, the Predators will have just one legitimate star on their roster in goaltender Pekka Rinne. Suter's exit will be a major loss at both ends of the ice for Nashville and could result in the team entering a rebuilding phase in the near future.