The Wild has landed its blue-chip defenseman and is working toward landing the big fish, blue-chip forward as well. After an impressive maneuver Tuesday to get itself in front of free-agent Ryan Suter, the Wild has agreed to terms on a 13-year contract with defenseman Ryan Suter, sources say. But the Wild's not done in its attempt to shake a hockey-mad market into a frenzy. According to sources, the Wild was working on agreeing to terms with Minneapolis-born Zach Parise on a 13-year deal. If successful, and it appears as if it will be, Parise and Suter are forming a star-studded tandem that can come to Minnesota and perhaps help alter the fortunes of a franchise that has missed the playoffs four consecutive seasons.
And it looks like Minnesota indeed pulled off that package deal:
Zach Parise has agreed to terms with the Minnesota Wild— Pierre LeBrun (@Real_ESPNLeBrun) July 4, 2012
Yes, this sucks, there's no question about it. Losing Suter while getting nothing in return represents a gamble lost by David Poile and the Nashville Predators front office. As I wrote months ago, Suter was obviously bent on testing the market ever since he entered the final year of his contract, and as time ticked away, the Predators' leverage dwindled away to nothing.
For excerpts from David Poile's conference call with the media this afternoon, check out my Twitter feed.
This isn't a mortal blow to the franchise, however. We've seen tough times in the past (I'm talking about REALLY tough times), and the organization rallied to maintain their competitive position in the Western Conference. Thanks to the relatively narrow band between the salary cap and floor (the range goes from $70.2M to $56.2M, a far cry from the $20-80M range we saw prior to the lockout) the Predators will certainly bring in a name player or two over the coming weeks & months.
So it's time to start looking ahead... who can/should the Preds pursue either in free agency or the trade market to position the team for success going forward? Do they go after an all-around defenseman (Matt Carle?), or focus instead on talent up front (Bobby Ryan)?
And congratulations to Minnesota, which just signed the best field goal kicker in the NHL:
Just poking some fun there... seriously, all the best to Ryan Suter going forward. He's earned his way into this position of being able to make the right choice for himself and his family, and I, for one, don't blame him one bit.