Wednesday, 4 July 2012

Wild Nights Are Calling

I have the distinct advantage of living where I do where I can get broadcasts from Minnesota-based TV stations. In saying this, it was a pretty big day for Minnesota sports reporters thanks to the announcements to day that both Zach Parise and Ryan Suter would be suiting up for the Minnesota Wild next season and the following twelve seasons after that. The night broadcast of the Minnesota news showed these uniforms to the left, so I guess we know that Suter will don his familiar #20, but Parise is going with #11 after having worn #9 during his time with the Devils. And so it begins: the Minnesota Wild are the hottest ticket in Minneapolis/St. Paul once again.

I'm not convinced that the Wild will be the best team in the Northwest Division this year, but the addition of these two players will make a difference when compared to the other four teams. Personally, I still see Vancouver finishing on top of the division after losing no significant players, adding Jason Garrison, and having the option to trade Roberto Luongo for a package of picks and players. But the Wild may have taken steps to ensure that they will not only grab a playoff spot, but possibly win their division if Vancouver falters.

Parise will most likely see time alongside Mikko Koivu, and the two players should immediately help one another out. I believe that Parise will fit in well in Minnesota because he was forced to play a team system in New Jersey where personal stats are trumped by team success, and that fits the mold of the Wild very nicely. Parise is also very responsible in his own end, and his work ethic is exemplary as shown by his captaincy in New Jersey. In short, the Wild are getting an accomplished scorer who will help his teammates in both zones, and he will provide veteran leadership in the locker room.

Suter, on the other hand, will anchor the Wild blueline. Suter will log a ton of minutes over the next thirteen seasons with the Wild, and he will be expected to provide offence while being the guy heads coach Mike Yeo leans on as a stopper. Suter can certainly handle the responsibility as he and Shea Weber played almost every second shift for Barry Trotz in Nashville, and he'll certainly be asked to play a lot in Minnesota. Suter brings a wealth of experience as "the guy" on defence, and the Wild's defensive corps can certainly use that help in being better next season.

The money that these two men are being paid - 13 years for $98 million each - is a ridiculous amount. I won't lie when I say that the money had to have influenced their decision a lot. But it seems that Parise and Suter were collaborating on where to go from the very start, and the money that Minnesota threw at them combined with the location sold the two players on the Wild.

"We kept in touch throughout this whole thing and we decided that we thought for both of us that the best fit would be Minnesota," Parise said in a conference call. "We're excited that it worked out and we get a chance to play with each other."

So while the Wild and their fans celebrate, New Jersey and Nashville look to fill massive holes left by two stars who left. It won't be easy to replace Parise's scoring and leadership in New Jersey, and finding another defenceman who can log Suter's minutes while providing solid play at both ends will be a tall task for Nashville. The good news is that there are still players available to make both teams better.

As for the Wild, they get instantly better, and there could be many wild nights in the next thirteen years for the Wild.

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

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