All-Stars Zach Parise and Ryan Suter, former first-round draft picks and two of the National Hockey League’s most-coveted free agents, signed with the Minnesota Wild.
Parise, a 27-year-old left wing, and Suter, a 27-year-old defenseman, both received 13-year contracts, the Wild announced today on its website without providing financial details. The contracts are each worth $98 million, according to ESPN.
“This is a great day in the history of the Minnesota Wild,” general manager Chuck Fletcher said on the website. “We view this as a rare opportunity for us to transform our franchise by adding two marquee players, who are both in the prime of their careers, at the same time.”
Less than an hour after the signings were announced, the Wild website opened to a photo of the two players and a link to the team box office. The link was accompanied by an open letter to fans from team owner Craig Leipold.
“I know they both had numerous, attractive offers (some higher than ours),” Leipold said. “They’ve had first-hand experience with the extraordinary pride and unrelenting passion of our fans. Ultimately, I firmly believe that you fans were the deciding factor in their decision.”
The Wild, who entered the NHL as an expansion team in 2000, have not made the playoffs since 2008. In three postseason appearances, the team has advanced past the opening round only once, in 2003.
“This is a huge step forward in our quest to bring a Stanley Cup to the deserving fans of the State of Hockey,” Fletcher said.
Parise has 194 goals and 216 assists in seven seasons after being taken by the New Jersey Devils with the No. 17 selection in the NHL 2003 Draft. As team captain he led New Jersey to the 2012 Stanley Cup Final, where the Devils lost in six games to the Los Angeles Kings.
An All-Star in 2009, Parise has scored at least 30 goals in five seasons, including a career-high 45 in 2008-09. His father, J.P. Parise, played for the Minnesota North Stars for parts of nine seasons, and Zach went to high school in Faribault, 55 miles south of Minneapolis.
Suter spent his entire seven-year career with the Nashville Predators and last season set a career high with 46 points, tied for 10th-most among NHL defensemen. His 23 points on the power play and 26 minutes and 30 seconds of ice time per game were both third-best at his position.
Drafted seventh by the Predators in 2003, the 6-foot-1 Suter grew up in Madison, Wisconsin. He played in his first NHL All-Star Game.
Parise and Suter were teammates on the U.S. team that won a silver medal at the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver. In the gold medal game against Canada, Parise scored with 25 seconds remaining in the third period to force overtime. They were also teammates on the U.S. team that won the gold medal at the 2004 World Junior Championships.
-- Editor: Bob Bensch.