For the past three days, the thought process regarding the Wild free agency chase of Zach Parise and Ryan Suter was that if Parise came, Suter would follow. It turns out Suter was the lynch pin in the whole process and that the two had talked during the past year about finding a spot to play together.
Now as most thermometers teter between double and triple digits, the State of Hockey celebrates the 4th of July and the return to relevance in the NHL.
Both players confirmed that the two had chatted about playing on the same team. As some look at the Miami Heat three summers ago and talk about superstars creating their own dream team. There will surely be those who feel the same way here. Most likely in Detroit and PIttsburgh who were rumored to be the front runners for the two players individually.
"Ryan and I had talked throughout the year. You always say to each other, 'Wouldn't it be great to have a chance to play with each other on the same team?'" Parise said in a conference call with the media.
Both Suter and Parise signed cap friendly contracts of 13 years $98 million. They will both each make $12 million the next two seasons, $11 million the year after that, $9 million for the next five years, then $8 million, $6 million, $2 million and $1 million. It includes $10 million in signing bonuses the first two years of their deals.
It is a huge investment for Leopold, to the tune of $196 million, but their contracts will allow the Wild free agent flexibility as the seasons move along.
In the case of both players the decision came down in large parts to family. Suter, is a Wisconsin native wife is from Bloomington. The 27 year old defenseman was drafted by Nashville in 2003 with the seventh overall selection.
Parise was the 17th pick in 2003 by New Jersey. The native Parise played at hockey hotbed Shattuck-St. Mary's who played his college hockey at North Dakota.
PIECES TO THE PUZZLE
While the signing of Suter and Parise are cornerstone for the franchise, they are additions to a team that already has Mikko Koivou, Danny Heatley and Devin Setoguchi who were picked up last off-season.
Suter is automatically the teams top defenseman who can log a ton of minutes on the blue line. He is a minute eater that can control the game from the back end. Search the history of Stanley Cup champions and they all had a D-man who was able to control things.
Parise gives the team some of what they needed. A goal scorer, Parise's best season came in 2008-2009 when he scored 45 goals and tallied 94 points. Last season, he helped the Devils advance to the Stanley Cup finals scoring eight goals and adding seven assists in the Cup chase. He gives the team depth and will allow the team to put players in the right places.
Do the Wild jump to the top of the line for the Stanley Cup next season? After the two signed, Vegas moved the odds of the Wild winning the Cup from 200:1 to 22:1. If the NHL has taught us one thing over the past it is that there are no favorites. We just watched the L.A Kings and Parise's Devils, an 8 and a 6 seed make it to the dance. The big piece is to make it to the playoffs, which has been a four year drought for this organization.