The wait is finally over, and Minnesota Wild fans have something extra to celebrate this 4th of July, as their club has signed forward Zach Parise and defenseman Ryan Suter. Arguably the two biggest free agents in the league this summer, Wild brass showed the pair how much they would like to have the superstars in the State of Hockey next season by opening up their wallets. Both 27 year olds signed 13 year deals worth $98 million each.
Parise, a Minneapolis native and Shattuck-St. Mary’s alum, returns to his homeland after spending all seven seasons of his NHL career with the New Jersey Devils. The former All Star captained his team to the Stanley Cup Finals this year with a 69 point (31, 38) regular season, before losing in Game 6 to the Los Angeles Kings.
Son of former Minnesota North Star J.P. Parise, Zach has amassed 410 points (194, 216) in 502 games in his career. Parise’s consistency could become vital to the team’s future success, as he has put up over 30 goals and 30 assists in every season since his rookie year (with the exception of the 2010-2011 season, in which he only played 13 games). This is great news for fans, who are coming off of a season in which star forward Dany Heatley disappointingly posted a career low 53 points (24, 29). Parise set a career high in all three categories during the 2008-2009 season, posting 94 points on 45 goals and 49 assists.
Parise cites the ability to play in front of his family as a big reason he chose to sign with Minnesota.
This will also be the first time that Ryan Suter will change teams. Prior to Wednesday, the 2012 All Star had spent all seven seasons of his career with the Nashville Predators. The Madison, Wisconsin native is a very well-rounded defenseman, but is especially noted for his playmaking abilities. While Suter obviously isn’t going to score 20 goals for you, he has tallied at least 33 assists in each of the last four seasons, with a career high of 39 last year. Amazingly, 23 of his 46 points in the 2011-2012 season were recorded on the power play, meaning he could also provide help to a unit that struggled at times last year. Ryan is currently sitting on 238 points (38, 200) over 542 career games.
Both Parise and Suter are used to carrying a large workload as well. With the exception of the 2010-2011 season, Parise has skated in no less than 81 regular season games during his career. On the other hand, Suter has played in at least 76 games in five of his seven seasons, including a 79 game regular season campaign last year. However, Ryan also averaged 26:30 of ice time in those games, helping his team to a #4 Western Conference seed in the playoffs. These numbers are encouraging to Minnesota, as it saw its team go long periods of time without injured players such as Mikko Koivu, Devin Setoguchi, Pierre-Marc Bouchard, and recently departed Guillaume Latendresse last season.
Get excited, Wild fans. Your team is on its way to becoming a very serious threat in the National Hockey League.
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