The Minnesota Wild will begin their 19th season of existence when the puck drops for the 2019-20 season on Oct. 3. For the State of Hockey franchise, one can think of their existence in two separate eras. The pre-Zach Parise and Ryan Suter era, and the Parise/Suter era.
When the season kicks off on that October evening, it will mark the eighth season of the Parise/Suter era. The most successful time period in the Wild’s short history started on July 4, 2012. That day is already historical for many reasons, but for the State of Hockey, it will always be the day that saw the Wild sign two of the top free agents that offseason and brought excitement to a franchise that hadn’t made the playoffs the previous four seasons and just twice in the previous six seasons.
Parise, a Minneapolis native, was the top wing on the market. While Suter, a Madison, Wisconsin native was the top defenseman on the market. Since that signing, the Wild have made the playoffs six out of the seven seasons. That’s the good news, the bad news is they’ve only made it out of the first round twice and have never reached the Conference Final.
2012-13: First Season in Minnesota
In the shortened lockout season, the Wild finished 26-19 and lost to the Chicago Blackhawks, the eventual Stanley Cup Champions, 4-1 in the first round.
In his first season playing for his home state, Parise led the Wild with 38 points. His 18 goals put him in a tie for 18th in the league. In the series against the Blackhawks, Parise scored one goal.
That season Suter finished led the Wild with 28 assists and finished third on the team with 32 points. In an 82 game season, Suter would have been on pace for 54 points, which would have been a career-high for him.
2013-14: Advancing to Conference Semifinals
This season is best known for the 4-3 opening-round win against the Colorado Avalanche. It was a series that had four overtimes and five out of the seven games were decided by one goal.
Parise had himself a series, recording a point in six of the seven games. He finished the series with seven assists and three goals. His best game came in a pivotal Game 6, with the Wild trailing in the series 3-2. He finished game six with two goals and a pair of assists that helped the Wild force a game seven, a game they won in overtime 5-4.
In the next round, the Wild lost to the Blackhawks 4-2. In that series, Parise finished with three assists and one goal.
For the regular season, Parise finished second on the team in goals (29) and points (60). He even missed 15 regular-season games due to injuries. Suter enjoyed a typical Suter season, finishing with 43 points, with 35 assists and eight goals. In the postseason run, he finished with six assists and one goal.
2014-15: Parise’s Best Season with Wild
The 2014-15 season once again saw the Wild have their season ended at the hands of the Blackhawks. The Wild fell to the rivals from Chicago 4-0 in the second round.
The 2014-15 campaign is the best season Parise’s had as a member of the Wild. He led the team in points (62) and goals (33). He also finished the season with 29 assists. His goal totals put him tied for 10th in the league.
During the Wild’s 4-2 opening-round series win against the St. Louis Blues, Parise recorded three goals and four assists. In the series loss against the Blackhawks, he finished with two assists and one goal.
Suter continued to be a model of consistency during his third year as a member of the Wild. He tied for the team lead in assists, with 36.
2015-16: Mike Yeo Hired as Head Coach
The 2015-16 season marked the first time in the Parise/Suter era that Minnesota’s season didn’t end at the hand of the Blackhawks. This season also saw a changing of the guard behind the bench, with head coach Mike Yeo being replaced by John Torchetti in the middle of the season. It was also a season that ended in disappointment, with Parise being sidelined in the playoffs with a herniated disk. Without Parise, the Wild’s all-time playoff scoring leader, they fell to the Dallas Stars in six games.
Parise finished the season with a team-leading 25 goals. He finished second on the team in points with 53. Suter continued as normal, finishing with a team-leading 43 assists. He finished the season with 51 points.
2016-17: Boudreau at the Helm
The first season under the new coach, Bruce Boudreau, turned out to be the best regular season in franchise history. The Wild finished 49-25-8 with 106 points. Unfortunately, that regular-season success didn’t translate to the postseason, with the Wild falling to the Blues in five games in the opening round.
Parise, coming back from his injury, played in just 69 regular-season games. He finished with 19 goals and 23 assists. In the playoffs, he scored two goals and recorded one assist. Suter’s production dropped, as he finished with just 40 points. He scored nine goals and recorded 31 assists.
2017-18: Suter’s Injury Costs Him Playoffs
The Wild lost Parise right before the playoffs in the 2015-16 season. In the 2017-2018 season, the Wild lost Suter right before the postseason. With Suter out of the lineup, the Wild fell to the Winnipeg Jets, 4-1 in the opening round.
Before his injury, Suter was enjoying his best season as a member of the Wild. He posted a career-high in assists (45) and finished with 51 points.
In the postseason, Parise was a man on fire. He scored a goal in the first three games of the series, before suffering a sternum injury that forced him to miss the remainder of the series.
Parise missed most of the season due to a back injury but finished with 15 goals and 24 points. Of his 15 goals, 12 of them came in the final 18 games of the regular season.
2018-19: The Wild Sell-Off
For the first time in the Parise/Suter era, the Wild failed to reach the postseason. It was the first year under a new general manager, Paul Fenton. Fenton opted to trade core pieces, Charlie Coyle, Mikael Granlund and Nino Niederreiter in moves that brought back Ryan Donato, Kevin Fiala and Victor Rask.
Despite missing the playoffs, Parise had one of his finest seasons as a member of the Wild. He led the team in goals (28) and points (61).
Suter finished the season with 40 assists and 47 points, even though he got off to a slow start after coming off the ankle injury he suffered at the end of the 2017-2018 season.
The first three seasons with Parise and Suter were likely everything the Wild brass and fans were hoping for when they signed the duo on that hot July 4th day. It led to six straight postseason appearances and two series wins. If it weren’t for the pesky Blackhawks, a team that went on to win the Stanly Cup two out of the six years, who knows how far the Wild could have gone.
The 2018-19 season was the most disappointing for the Wild, missing the playoffs altogether. Parise will be 35 years old when the season starts in October. Suter will be the same age in January. If the Wild are going to finish this era out strong, they’ll need the younger players to take a step. Otherwise, the Wild could be in store for another long season.