Michael Russo has covered the National Hockey League since 1995. He has covered the Minnesota Wild for the Star Tribune since 2005, after 10 years of covering the Florida Panthers for the Sun-Sentinel. He uses “Russo’s Rants” to feed a wide-ranging hockey-centric discussion with readers, and can be heard weekly on KFAN (100.3 FM) radio and seen weekly on Fox Sports North.

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Stars aligning for Parise, Suter to choose the Wild?

Posted by: Michael Russo under Wild off-season news Updated: July 4, 2012 - 8:50 AM

Happy Fourth of July everybody.

Today could be the day that Zach Parise and Ryan Suter make their big decisions, and things are tracking in a positive way if you’re a Wild fan.

As you can read here, the Wild executed a bigtime power play yesterday in an attempt to land both the highly-coveted New Jersey Devils captain and Nashville Predators defenseman.

As I’ve written countless times and uttered on countless radio shows, if the Wild lands one, it should land the other. If the Wild misses on one, it will undoubtedly miss on the other.

Craig Leipold, Chuck Fletcher and Mike Yeo are doing everything to make sure the Wild doesn’t miss – beyond a pile of money, that is. The Wild talked to Parise a handful of times Sunday and Monday, and yesterday for the first time, the three flew to Madison to meet face-to-face with Suter and sell him on the potential of Parise and Suter coming to Minnesota and altering a franchise that is ready to have a bunch of top prospects burst onto the scene.

The last couple days I had started to hear rumblings that Parise and Suter were talking. I was reporting in today’s paper that the two were expected to speak again last night after the Wild’s meeting with Suter.

And then, in an interview on nextsportstar.com, my pal Josh Rimer talked to Parise and asked him the question we’ve all been wondering for awhile but never had confirmed: Are you and Suter talking?

“We’ve talked. Ryan and I are friends. We’ve definitely talked throughout this thing,” Parise told Rimer.
Rimer drew the comparison to a potential LeBron-DWade-Bosh scenario. Parise said he didn’t “like” folks drawing that comparison and that buddies of both Suter and Parise had been making similar jokes with texts that say, “come here.”

“Ryan’s a great player,” Parise told Rimer. “He’s a top defenseman in this league. Those type of players don’t come around often. They’re tough to find. I’d love to play on a team with a defenseman like Ryan Suter. Immediately you’ve got your top defenseman, immediately you’ve got a power-play guy, you’ve got shutdown guy. Again those guys are hard to find, so to get an opportunity to play with him would be great.”

Hearing this from Parise lends further credence to the likelihood that the delay in Parise making his decision has a little (or a lot) to do with Suter making up his mind.

That’s why Suter had to meet yesterday with Detroit and Minnesota.

As much as I’ve always felt that if the Wild landed Parise it would land Suter, I think the linchpin now is Suter. Suter needed to meet with the Wild and then make a decision if he’s coming here, going to Detroit or returning Nashville.

And then that could very well determine the future as to whether Parise comes here, goes back to New Jersey or picks another team.

Former agent and GM Brian Lawton tweeted last night, “Not sure yet on Parise but word is Ryan Suter will be playing for the MN Wild next season!”

As of this morning, this was not official. Nobody I’ve talked to this morning was aware if Suter had made a decision, although last night as of 11 p.m., I was getting positive vibes that the stars and planets were aligning for the Wild. That was a big reason for my optimism when Rimer interviewed me at 11:05.

We will see. I wouldn’t expect any definitive news early in the day. There’s a lot of moving parts on whatever decisions these two players make (phone calls need to be made to teams, contracts finalized, etc), but my sense is we could get word later today.

The Wild’s certainly putting out all the stops. On that plane trip with agent Neil Sheehy yesterday, the Wild agreed to terms with center Jake Dowell to a two-year deal (two-way in Year 1, one-way in Year 2).

Not only is Dowell buddies with Suter after playing together at Wisconsin, he’s also friends with Parise. The 27-year-olds played together in world-under-18’s (gold medal) and the world junior championships.

Now, does all this mean everything is a done deal for the Wild and they’ll soon have a new No. 11 (Parise) and No. 20 (Suter) in the fold?

No. But the stars seem to be aligning that the Wild’s got a better chance to get this done than a lot of us believed.

Anyways, stay tuned to here and Twitter at russostrib.

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