The Minnesota Wild are saying goodbye to two of the most prominent players in franchise history.
Zach Parise and Ryan Suter will be bought out by the Minnesota Wild, ending a nine-year run for both players since signing as can’t-miss free agents in the summer of 2012.
Both players have had a significant impact on the organization since arriving but haven’t achieved substantial success in the playoffs. These two buyouts mark the end of an era for the Wild, nine years after both players teamed up to go to the state of hockey.
Parise was born in Minneapolis, MN, back in 1984. The son of former North Stars captain J.P. Parise, Zach was drafted in the first round, 17th overall by the New Jersey Devils in 2003. He arrived in the NHL right after the lockout and registered 31 points in 2005-06. His career year came just a few seasons later during the 2008-09 campaign, where he scored 45 goals and had 94 points in 82 games.
He was a leader on the ice, known for being the type of player you want to go into battle with every night. After signing a one-year contract with the Devils in 2011, he was named their captain for the 2011-12 season. That year, New Jersey made it to the Stanley Cup Final, only to lose to the Los Angeles Kings in six games.
That summer, Parise set off into the free-agent market, and rumour had it he was looking for a change of scenery. With a resume that included playing for Team USA at the 2010 Olympics, not to mention already accumulating over 400 points in the NHL, he was set to have loads of interest from around the league.
His hometown team, the Minnesota Wild, had the cap space to not only pursue him, but another top free agent on the market as well. So, not only did the Wild come to an agreement with Parise on a 13-year, $98 million contract, but they were able to bring in the top defenceman on the market as well.
With the exact same contract as Parise at 13 years, $98 million, Ryan Suter also agreed to sign with the Minnesota Wild on July 4, 2012.
Suter was also a first-round pick from the 2003 NHL Entry Draft, going seventh overall to the Nashville Predators. For years, he controlled the Predators blueline alongside Shea Weber. However, with Suter hitting free agency in the summer of 2012, it was time for him to be a No. 1 defenceman with another team.
Suter was also a member of the 2010 USA Olympic team with Parise. As free agents in 2012, the two spoke about joining forces by signing with the same team, and Minnesota welcomed both with open arms. The pair signed on the same day, with the exact same contract, and the Minnesota Wild became Parise and Suter’s team.
Now, the era is officially over.
The Past Nine Years
In nine seasons, Parise registered 199 goals and 201 assists for 400 points, with an additional 37 points in the playoffs. Although he was never the captain in Minnesota like his father once was, he did serve as an alternate during his time with the Wild.
For Suter, the term workhorse was often used during his time with the Wild. Suter rarely missed time due to injuries, and he often was leading the team in time on ice. Each season between 2012-13 and 2018-19, Suter averaged over 20 minutes of ice time per game.
Over his nine seasons with the Wild, he played in 656 games, registering 55 goals and 314 assists for 369 points, with another 18 points coming in the playoffs.
It’s not that these two aren’t NHL-level players anymore. This issue was that both Parise and Suter had $7,538,461 cap hits for another four years each. They weren’t nearly worth those contracts anymore, and their decline was going to continue getting worse.
The Wild Moving Forward
This move officially kickstarts a new era of Wild hockey, led by Jared Spurgeon, Kirill Kaprizov, Joel Eriksson Ek, and Kevin Fiala. Not so far behind them will be Calen Addison, Matthew Boldy, and Marco Rossi.
With Kaprizov and Fiala still needing new contracts, the buyouts help free up cap space this summer to help the Wild get them both locked up. However, it doesn’t eliminate the salary issue, as the Wild will really feel the cap penalties of these buyouts between the 2022-23 season and the 2024-25 season.
So, the Wild are essentially taking some major cap relief right now to help get their stars signed, and they have about two years until they will have to worry about dealing with over $14.5 million in dead cap space being charged against them for two seasons. The salary cap may rise by that time, but that’s still a lot of cap space going towards two players no longer in the organization.
One problem these buyouts do seem to solve immediately is with Matt Dumba and the expansion draft. They no longer have to worry about losing him for nothing, as the Wild can now protect Spurgeon, Brodin, and Dumba while still protecting seven forwards and a goalie.
Overall, this feels like more of a problem that the Wild wanted more time on, so they were able to push it down the road a bit. Now, Minnesota should have the cap space to sign Kaprizov and Fiala and possibly make some depth signings as well to round out their roster.
Zach Parise and Ryan Suter joined the Wild on the same day, and now they leave the Wild on the same day, just not the way they had hoped to when they arrived in July of 2012.
Sports writer covering the Minnesota Wild. Graduated with a degree in sport media, also working with the Oshawa Generals of the OHL.