Credit: Minnesota Wild
The Minnesota Wild stunned the National Hockey League on Wednesday by signing both Zach Parise and Ryan Suter to long-term contracts.
General Manager Chuck Fletcher's pursuit of the two top free agents had been well documented throughout the week -- and the State of Hockey prevailed. It was fitting the Wild signed arguably the top two American players on the Fourth of July.
Both were inked to 13-year, $98 million deals.
Parise, a Minneapolis native, has scored 194 goals and added 216 assists for 410 points in 502 games -- all with the New Jersey Devils, whom he led to the Stanley Cup Finals just one month ago. Parise starred at Shattuck-St. Mary's and the University of North Dakota.
"Every kid growing up in Minnesota would love to play with the Wild. That's the way it is," Parise said on a conference call.
He will wear No. 11, just like his father, J.P. Parise, who played for the Minnesota North Stars.
Suter, from Madison, Wisc., has amassed 38 goals and 200 assists in 542 games with the Nashville Predators. The defenseman and former University of Wisconsin star has the ability to shut down opposing forwards and move the puck up ice with ease. Suter will wear No. 20. His father, Bob Suter, played for the 1980 Miracle on Ice Olympic gold medal team. Former NHL star Gary Suter is Ryan's uncle.
In an open letter to the State of Hockey, team owner Craig Leipold acknowledged the fan base as a recruiting factor.
"Finally and most importantly, I felt like we had a 'secret weapon' working in our favor during these negotiations…the spirit and dedication of you fans of the State of Hockey. It’s no secret that both Zach and Ryan have strong ties to this area. 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 and so my final 'thank you' is reserved for you."