With Ryan Suter & Zach Parise, Are The Minnesota Wild Big Players Out West?

By Randy Holt

The Minnesota Wild shocked much of the hockey world last week when they landed both of the top free agents in this year’s class, signing both Zach Parise and Ryan Suter to 13-year contracts.

Disregarding the numbers, both are fantastic signings for the Wild. They already play in a great market and just needed to add some star power (Dany Heatley doesn’t really count). They got it with the hometown kid Parise and with Ryan Suter.

Now that the two are locked up in Minnesota until the same year Chernobyl can be repopulated, the questions begin. The biggest one is whether or not signing the two makes the Minnesota Wild contenders in the very competitive Western Conference.

The Wild got off to a hot start last season, even holding the no. 1 spot in the league for a bit. That fizzled out though (understatement), and a stagnant offense led the Wild to missing the playoffs once again. Heading into 2012-13, expectations will be higher for Minnesota, but how high should they be?

The Wild had an offense that ranked dead last in the National Hockey League last season. Much of that was health related. Devon Setoguchi missed 13 games. Mikko Koivu missed 27. Having those guys back and healthy will help, on top of the additions of Suter and Parise. Don’t forget about Minny’s signing of Mikael Granlund either. They won’t hang five or six goals on a nightly basis, but the offense will be much improved.

Already with a defense that was pretty solid, Suter (as well as Parise’s two-way game) will help there as well. The Wild ranked 13th in the league in goals allowed per game last season. And already with a solid goaltending duo of Niklas Backstrom and Josh Harding, each pretty strong between the pipes when they’re on, the Wild could have a top 10 defensive club next season.

Zach Parise and Ryan Suter make the Wild better. With those two, along with guys returning healthy and their other offseason signings, the Wild are a playoff team. Are they a Stanley Cup contender? Not yet. There still isn’t enough talent on this roster overall to carry them on a deep playoff run.

But after all of these years of futility since the Wild were born, fans of the Minnesota Wild can rest easy knowing that there is finally something to look forward to in the State of Hockey.

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