Minnesota Wild with Some Early July 4th Fireworks; Land Parise & Suter

Zach Parise and Ryan Suter: first teammates in the Olympics, now locked up for the next 13 years in Minnesota.

The waiting is finally over: the Minnesota Wild have signed both of the NHL’s highly coveted free agents, Zach Parise and Ryan Suter, to mega-deals worth $98 million over 13 years. While I would argue against Suter being worth as much as Parise, I suppose it is a rather symbolic gesture that the two American players who probably took so long to sign so they knew for sure that is where the other one was going to go, would receive identical deals. This is a great day for the Minnesota Wild, which has an excellent fan base and atmosphere for hockey. This is a team that has never really succeeded, despite continuing support. They got off to a strong start last season and eventually faded away and out of playoff contention due to poor coaching. Thanks to these signings, though, they are going to be major factors in the Western Conference for many years to come. Throw Dany Heatley, Mikko Koivu, Niklas Backstrom, and to a lesser extent, Devin Setoguchi into the mix, and you have one of the strongest teams in the west.

Almost as important as the signings themselves are the effects that the deals will now have on other general managers who have waited for the proverbial shoe to drop in order to make signings or trades. One would suspect that Alex Semin will sign at some point today, because even with all the negative baggage he brings (part in parcel to analysts ripping him to shreds in recent days on television and Twitter; I guess that’s the fashionable thing to do now), he is still a guaranteed 20+ goal scorer without even trying, and if he were to buy int to a system that has solid leadership and a good core already, he could easily revert back to that 30-40 goal star forward we saw just a couple of seasons ago. My guess is that he signs with the Detroit Red Wings, or my original pick, the Columbus Blue Jackets once Rick Nash gets dealt, which I predict will happen within the next few hours. In NHL free agency, when it rains, it pours.

We also have to ask, what does this mean for the New Jersey Devils and Nashville Predators? For starters, if the Predators cannot lockup restricted free agent Shea Weber, who in my mind, deserves more money than Suter, than they might as well relocate the franchise somewhere else. These two defensemen were literally the heart and soul of the team, and with them gone, there would be no reason for people to bother showing up—as good as he is, Pekke Rinne does not sell tickets. For the New Jersey Devils, financial situation aside, the sky is not falling, as I still expect them to contend for the playoffs if Kovalchuk does not miss a significant amount of time due to injury. They may see a further drop in attendance, but all was not lost in the marketing department with the re-signing of Martin Brodeur. More to come later…

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