When Bovada posted odds to win the 2013 Stanley Cup after the Los Angeles Kings finished off the New Jersey Devils in last month’s Finals, the Minnesota Wild were tied as the longest-shots for the Cup next year at 75/1. That’s about to change in a big way.
The Wild have landed the two most sought-after free agents on this year’s market: former Nashville defenseman Ryan Suter and former Devils winger Zach Parise will head to Minnesota in a package deal.
Parise and Suter are friends and former teammates on the 2010 U.S. Olympic team, and they had often discussed trying to play together in the NHL. Parise got a 13-year deal worth $98 million, while Suter’s 13-year deal is expected to be about the same number. That locks them up through the 2024-25 season and each would carry a salary cap hit of $7.538 million per campaign.
Suter, truly a rare franchise defenseman, scored a career-high 46 points last season and averaged 26 minutes, 30 seconds a game – third-highest in the NHL and a minute higher than any one of his previous seasons. Parise, who was born in Minneapolis, ranks fourth in Devils history with 194 goals, ninth with 410 points, tied for fifth with 51 power-play goals, fourth with 37 winning goals and fifth with 1,699 shots. He had 31 goals and 38 assists last season for the Eastern Conference champs.
The Wild needed all the help they could get after finishing 12th in the Western Conference — despite a strong start – with 81 points. Minnesota ranked last in the NHL in goals per game at 2.0 and 27th in power-play percentage at 15.1. Dany Heatley was the Wild’s leading scorer with 53 points.
It remains to be seen if these two huge deals will hamper the Wild going forward under the NHL’s new collective bargaining agreement. In fact, it remains to be seen if the 2012-13 NHL season will even begin on time with the owners and players far apart on a new deal. But this was a no-brainer deal for a team in a hockey-mad part of the country.