Zach Parise, Ryan Suter join Wild on 13-year deals

The Minnesota Wild have landed two of the most sought-after free agents on the market, signing forward Zach Parise and defenceman Ryan Suter to multiyear contracts on Wednesday.
Zach Parise, right, and Ryan Suter played for the 2010 U.S. Olympic squad in Vancouver. (File/Getty Images)

The Minnesota Wild made their pitch. Zach Parise and Ryan Suter made up their minds.

The Wild landed two of the most sought-after free agents on the market, signing forward Parise and defenceman Suter to multiyear contracts on Wednesday.

Terms for both players are reportedly identical 13-year, $98 million US deals.

"This is a great day in the history of the Minnesota Wild," Wild general manager Chuck Fletcher said in a release. "We are extremely excited to add the collective skill, experience and character of Zach Parise and Ryan Suter to an already promising roster.

"We view this as a rare opportunity for us to transform our franchise by adding two marquee players, who are both in the prime of their careers, at the same time."

The signings should help bolster a dismal Wild attack that ranked dead last in the NHL in total goals last season. Their 166 were 22 fewer than the 29th-ranked Los Angeles Kings. Minnesota missed out on the playoffs with a 12th-place finish in the Western Conference last year (14 points behind eighth-place L.A.).

Parise, a Minneapolis, Minn. native, is fresh off a one-year, $6 million pact with the New Jersey Devils. He notched 31 goals and 38 assists last year in 82 games after an injury-plagued 2010-11 campaign in which he was limited to just 13 contests.

The former Devils captain, who will turn 28 in less than a month, was instrumental in the team's run to the Stanley Cup final against the Kings this year, scoring eight goals and seven assists in 24 playoff games.

His father, J.P., spent parts of nine seasons with the Minnesota North Stars.

"My parents were so excited when they knew that I was considering coming back home," Parise said. "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."'

In his seven-year career — all with the Devils — Parise has 194 goals and 216 assists. His best season came in 2008-09 when he put up 45 goals and 49 assists, and he has scored at least 30 goals five times. The sniper was originally drafted 17th overall in 2003.

Devils general manager Lou Lamiorello expressed just how much Parise will be missed.

"There's no question we're disappointed," Devils general manager Lou Lamoriello said. "It's a very unfortunate thing when you have a player of his stature that comes right through the ranks and, at this given time a decision is made to go elsewhere. But right now there's nothing we can do about that and our plans are going forward."

He also said New Jersey was a contender to keep the forward in its fold, making what he referred to as a competitive offer, but in the end it wasn't quite enough.

"Zach told me that if it wasn't going home to Minnesota, it would be coming to New Jersey," Lamoriello said. "I respect that."

Suter and Parise have laced up their skates on the same squad before, leading the U.S. Olympic team to a silver medal at the 2010 Games in Vancouver where Suter served as alternate captain.

The All-Star defenceman's father, Bob, was a member of the 1980 U.S. Olympic team that defeated the heavily favoured Soviet squad and went on to win gold. His uncle Gary played 17 years in the NHL for the Calgary Flames, Chicago Blackhawks and San Jose Sharks.

The Madison, WI. native will also be reunited with former University of Wisconsin teammate and current Wild blue-liner Tom Gilbert.

"It came down to where I felt my family would like to live," Suter said. "My wife's from Bloomington, Minnesota. 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."

Nashville Predators GM David Poile also lamented the loss of one the team's former franchise cornerstones.

"It would be an understatement to say that the Nashville Predators are disappointed at this time," Poile said. "Actually, not disappointed, but very surprised."

Suter scored seven goals and 39 assists in 79 regular season games last year. The 27-year-old added one goal and three assists in the Predators' playoff run this past spring.

Originally drafted seventh overall in the first round of the 2003 NHL Entry Draft by the Predators, he had spent his entire seven-year career with the team and amassed 38 goals and 200 assists and was plus-43 over the span of 542 games.

Suter is coming off a four-year deal in which he earned an annual salary of $3.5 million.

The Detroit Red Wings, rumoured throughout the last week to be strong contenders for the services of Suter and Parise, were also unsuccessful in luring the tandem to Detroit.

"We feel good about our offer to Suter and Parise on July 1, and with our chance to adjust our offer to Suter on July 2," Red Wings general manager Ken Holland said by phone.

Earlier in the day, Minnesota added centre Jake Dowell for two years.

With files from The Canadian Press