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Zach Parise and Ryan Suter Sign with Wild; Did Anyone See This Coming?

The much anticipated Free Agency period which began on July 1st turned into the waiting game fast. With the “big fish”  Zach Parise and Ryan Suter taking their time weighing their options on their respective futures. This left NHL GM’s and the social media world going “wild”.

With general managers, players and fans waiting for the decision I do not think anyone expected the Minnesota Wild to land both of these stars. The Wild inked both Parise and Suter to identical 13-year US$98-million contracts. That’s a combined US$196-million dollars for the two premier free agents.

Parise, who grew up and was born in Minneapolis, MN had his decision cut down to three teams. The Pittsburgh Penguins, Minnesota Wild and his former team, the New Jersey Devils who were knocked off in the Stanley Cup Finals by the Los Angeles Kings. On July 2nd Parise told the media he was heading home to Minnesota to go over his options with family. At that point many believed it was between the Penguins and Devils. On July 4th he announced the signing with the Wild and not long after Suter made the same announcement.

Suter, who is also American born and raised in Madison, Wisconsin was rumoured to be heading to The Motor City to fill the void of recently retired Legend, Nicklas Lidstrom, as well Suter garnered interest from Chicago Blackhawks, who also had interest in signing the hard-nosed defender. He also had ties to Minnesota with his wife being from Bloomington, Minnesota.

The decision for both to sign in Minnesota was shocking to most because many believed they wanted to sign with cup-contenders; and the Minnesota Wild did not fit that criteria at the time of their signings. The Wild have missed the play-offs since the 2008-09 season finishing 3rd and 4th in the division each of the years it has missed the playoffs.

The Wild who are at the lowest point in its 12-year history losing money each of the past two seasons can see this as a huge marketing boost. With 2000 first round, 3rd overall pick and former face of the franchise Marian Gaborik moved on to New York the Wild needed something to spark news and excitement around the team. And these signings do exactly that.

Since the signing Parise and Suter jerseys have been a hot demand, tickets sales are increasing again and the Wild and owner Craig Leipold could be in position to bring one of the NHL’s marquee events such as the Winter Classic New Year’s Day outdoor game to the Twin Cities.

With young prospects like Mikael GranlundCharlie CoyleJason Zucker and Brett Bulmer knocking on the door to make the squad and make an offensive impact, the team is looking brighter than ever. With a young and up and coming goaltender Matt Hackett being groomed in the American Hockey League for the future and prospect  blue liners like Mathew Dumba and  Jonas Brodin in the system the team is building with pieces that could eventually create a cup contending and winning culture.

With having Zach Parise and Ryan Suter locked up for the next 13 years and the young pieces in the system developing, the City of Minnesota has reason to be excited again for Minnesota Wild Hockey. And although it’s not cheap to keep these guys locked up, kudos to General Manager Craig Leopold for giving a small market team like the Wild something to build off of that can benefit the team now and in the future.

Written By: Cam Turnbull