Minnesota Wild Sign Zach Parise AND Ryan Suter

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Happy birthday America!  The Minnesota Wild started the fireworks early on the Fourth of July by announcing matching contracts for free agent forward Zach Parise, and free agent defenseman Ryan Suter.  Both players were clearly the best available at their position in the free agent market, and in the end decided to join forces and come to the State of Hockey.  Each deal is for 13 years, $98 million, which should essentially keep both players in Minnesota for the rest of their careers.  To learn more about both signings, and how this affects the Minnesota Wild going forward, continue after the jump.

 

The 2012 NHL free agency period had been somewhat slow over the first couple days, with players and teams waiting until the two biggest prizes, Zach Parise and Ryan Suter, made their decisions.  After what felt like an endless wait, both players signed matching 13 year contracts with the Minnesota Wild.  These signings give the Wild something they’ve never really had in their 11+ year history:  star power.  Parise is the hometown superstar that Minnesota has never had, while Suter gives the Wild a bona fide top defenseman to patrol the blue line for the first time ever. The contracts are worth $98 million over the lifetime of the contract, with the majority of it being front loaded in the form of salary and bonuses.  In fact, both players will make nearly $50 million apiece in the first two years of the deal.  To see the salary breakdown graphically, check out this article from the The Globe And Mail.

 

 

 

By solving the Wild’s biggest problem with these signings (scoring), Minnesota instantly becomes a real contender to not only win the division, but also make deep playoffs runs for years to come.  GM Chuck Fletcher did a great job structuring this team in the last few years, and was able to bring in the free agent talent without giving up any young players that have been stockpiled in the system since Fletcher took over the job.  By keeping players like Mikael Granlund, Charlie Coyle, Zack Phillips, etc, the team depth is now stronger than it has ever been.  These players will be allowed to develop properly, and not be forced to jump right into the NHL level and produce for a team desperately in need of offense.  While much of the praise goes to the GM, as much, if not more, goes to team owner Craig Leipold.  Leipold has said all along that he would do everything it took to try and get both Parise and Suter into the mix.  Leipold, a Wisconsin native, was able to to pitch both the money and the thrill of building a winner in Minnesota to the players.  The fact that both Parise and Suter had been talking to each other during the process might have actually helped the Wild out.  It was figured that if Minnesota got one of the players, the other would likely follow.  If neither chose Minnesota, then the Wild would have probably been shut out in this free agent period.  In the end, the Wild got their men, and the entire State of Hockey has been in a state of bliss all day today.

 

Besides finally bringing star power and scoring to the Xcel Energy Center, the signings also give the possibility of a Winter Classic in the Twin Cities soon.  The biggest shun against Minnesota in the WC selection process was the lack of stars and players that would be recognizable on a national stage.  Signing both Parise and Suter, to go along with Mikko Koivu and Dany Heatley, give the team a number of big name players who are known in every market.  The signings almost guarantee that a Winter Classic will be coming soon, but the question is where?  Does the team take the opportunity to host the event as soon as possible?  That would mean that the game would likely be played at either TCF Stadium on the University of Minnesota campus, or at Target Field.  Or will the team wait a few years, and try and play the game at the newly built Vikings Stadium?  If the Vikings decide to put a retractable roof on the stadium, I don’t see how the Wild wouldn’t push for playing there.

 

While there are still big questions regarding the NHL this summer (Hello, CBA negotiations and potential lockout!), Minnesota Wild fans don’t really care what happens.  After years of being overlooked, the Wild have made big moves to become a big time player for the Stanley Cup.  After the struggles of the team over the past few years, the signings of Zach Parise and Ryan Suter give Minnesota Wild fans another reason to celebrate today.  While the prettiest fireworks will be tonight, the biggest fireworks were this morning, thanks to the Minnesota Wild.

 

 

bryan vickroy the sports bank

Bryan Vickroy has an addiction to hockey, and is willing to partake in all its forms.  He is skating extra shifts for The Sports Bank, covering the Minnesota Wild, the NHL, and NCAA hockey all year long.  Look for new articles throughout the week.  He can be followed on Twitter at @bryanvickroy.  If you’d prefer to speak in more than 140 characters at a time to him, he can be reached at bryan.vickroy@gmail.com.

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