Independence Day was all but independent for the former New Jersey Devils captain Zach Parise and Nashville Predators defenseman Ryan Suter. The two American born Free Agents had collaborated all season long about pairing up and heading to a team where they could win a Stanley Cup.
Amidst all the speculation of the duo heading to teams like Detroit or Pittsburgh, Parise and Suter signed matching 13-year, $98 million U.S deals with the Minnesota Wild. The Wild who finished 12 in the Western Conference last year saw their Las Vegas odds of winning the 2013 Stanley Cup go from 200-1 on July 3, to 22-1 on July 4.
“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.
From a hockey standpoint it is tough to figure out why a player of Parise’s caliber would pass up on the chance of playing on a line with Sidney Crosby or Pavel Datsyuk. However when you factor in that he is a Minneapolis, Minnesota native and his father J.P spent the better part of nine years in a North Stars jersey the signing starts to make more sense.
After having an injury plagued 2010-11 season where Parise only appeared in 13 games, he managed to stay on the ice for all 82 games and 24 playoff games in 2011-12. The former Devils winger scored 31 goals and added 38 assists in the regular season. He was a key component to the Devils Finals run with 15 points in the playoffs. Fantasy vets will remember his breakout 2008-2009 campaign with 45 goals and 94 points.
“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.”
Suter, who had played won World Junior Championship gold and Olympic Silver alongside Parise, also signed with Minnesota to be closer to his family. He grew up in Madison, Wisconsin which is only approximately 230 miles from Minneapolis. Suter who also attended the University of Wisconsin will be reunited with his former Wisconsin Badger teammate, 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.”
The Wild have struggled mightily to score goals in recent years should expect an increase in scoring by adding Parise to the likes of Mikko Koivu, Dany Heatley and Devin Setoguchi to name a few. Could these two singings turn the Wild into an overnight Cup Contender and more importantly for fantasy purposes, return Parise to the upper echelon of fantasy performers? Only time will tell.