It was a big day in free agency for the Minnesota Wild, as they picked up the two biggest free agents on the market in forward Zach Parise and defenseman Ryan Suter.
Parise’s departure from New Jersey comes following a season in which the Devils made it to the Stanley Cup Final, losing in six games to the Los Angeles Kings. He spent seven seasons with the team.
Meanwhile, Suter parts ways with the Nashville Predators after their 4-1 series loss to the Phoenix Coyotes in the Western Conference Semifinals. Just like Parise, Suter spent seven seasons with his former team.
The decision was a joint operation between Parise, who was born in Minnesota, and Suter, who both wanted to go to Minnesota for family reasons.
“We kept in touch throughout this whole thing and we decided that we thought for both of us that the best fit would be Minnesota,” Parise said in a conference call with ESPN. “We’re excited that it worked out and we get a chance to play with each other.”
“My parents were so excited when they knew that I was considering coming back home. When I made the decision they were real excited as well. That played a big part. I grew up here, I love coming back here in the summers, and I thought, ‘We enjoy it here so much it would be great to be here year round.’”
Suter is actually from Wisconsin, however, he decided that Minnesota would be the best fit for his family.
“It came down to where I felt my family would like to live,” Suter told ESPN. “My wife’s from Bloomington, Minn. That had a lot to do with it. … Minnesota has a lot of good young players that I think will help make this team successful.”
The 27-year-old Parise was the captain of the Devils last season, scoring 31 goals and putting up 69 points. He also provided 15 points during the Devils’ playoff run, establishing himself as the best forward on the market.
Suter, also 27, was the best available free agent at his position as well. The All-Star defenseman scored seven goals and had 39 assists last season on his way to a new career high in points.
While this move is a huge boost to the Wild’s roster, it leaves Nashville and New Jersey in need of replacements. Both teams supposedly made competitive offers to keep their respective players, but to no avail.
The Devils are especially hurting, because only a season after making it to the Stanley Cup Final, they find themselves without a captain and without their best offensive player, which could really impact their playoff chances. The Devils have never been consistently among the league leaders in scoring, so they’ll have to rely on their GM, Lou Lamoriello, to make a move that can help them regain some of their lost offensive talent.
Parise figures to add some much-needed offense to a Minnesota team that finished last in scoring during the 2011-2012 season, barely scoring two goals a game. While it’s still uncertain if the Wild will be able to make the playoffs next season, there’s no doubt that these signings bring them much closer to contention.