NEW YORK (WFAN/AP) — The Minnesota Wild were a starless team in need of a big-time jolt to get the franchise back to the point of being worthy of playing in “the State of Hockey.”
The jolts don’t come any bigger than this.
The Wild landed not one but both of the NHL’s top prizes in free agency, signing forward Zach Parise and defenseman Ryan Suter on Wednesday. Each deal is for 13 years and $98 million, according to The Associated Press.
“WE GOT ‘EM!” the Wild announced on their Twitter account early Wednesday afternoon, sending shockwaves across the league.
Parise, the former Devils playmaker, and Suter, who paired with Shea Weber on the Nashville blue line, were regarded the cream of what was a thin free agent crop, and each had spent the past four days poring over numerous offers from several teams before making a decision.
While Minnesota celebrated, the Devils were left with a big hole to fill.
“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.”
Lamoriello said he met with Parise and his representatives in Toronto on Saturday, and made what he called a competitive offer.
“Yes, our offer was competitive. We did not, at any time, have a phone call that we needed to change it or that it had to go up. It was competitive,” he said. “There was never a talk about money after our initial meeting in Toronto, where we made our offer. The response was the money we offered would not be the issue.”
In later discussions with Parise, Lamoriello said, the player made clear he wanted an opportunity to play in his home state.
“Zach told me that if it wasn’t going home to Minnesota, it would be coming to New Jersey,” Lamoriello said. “I respect that.”
The Devils cupboard isn’t entirely bare as the team still features Ilya Kovalchuk, Patrik Elias and NHL rookie of the year finalist Adam Henrique. New Jersey also re-signed veteran goalie Martin Brodeur to a two-year contract earlier this week.
“I think at the end it came between New Jersey and Minnesota,” said Parise. “I have great friends in New Jersey. I’m a loyal person. I loved playing there. I told Lou, that, too. It came down to the idea of being able to come home to play and be around family.”
Parise was the best forward on the market. He scored 31 goals and 69 points last season in his first year as the Devils’ captain. He also chipped in with 15 points in helping the team’s surprise run to the Stanley Cup finals, which ended in a six-game series loss to Los Angeles.
Drafted 17th overall by New Jersey in 2003, the 27-year old has 194 goals and 216 assists in 503 career games. He scored 30-plus goals five times.
“At the end of the day I thought it would be great to play at home,” said Parise. “The conversation with Lou went very well. He was very supportive. We’ve been up front and honest with each other throughout this whole process. He said, ‘If that’s the decision you want, I’m happy for you and I wish you the best.’ He couldn’t have been nicer about it.”
Devils fans, did the Parise news ruin your Fourth? Be heard in the comments below…
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