Parise, Suter keep suitors in suspense

  • Article by: MICHAEL RUSSO , Star Tribune
  • Updated: July 2, 2012 - 11:22 PM

The two prized free agents are making sure they consider all factors before inking what surely will be long-term contracts.

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Minnesota native Zach Parise said Monday he needed more time before deciding on a team.

Photo: Julio Cortez, AP

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Zach Parise is coming home to Minnesota on Tuesday ... but that doesn't necessarily mean it's to sign with the Wild.

After a second consecutive day of being inundated with contract offers and information, the Minneapolis-born Parise walked out of his agent's Toronto offices late Monday afternoon without having made the biggest decision of his career.

The Wild is still very much on Parise's short list along with a handful of other teams, sources say. But Parise wanted to go back to his hotel, decompress and discuss everything with his fiancée, Alisha, on Monday night before returning home to Minnesota on Tuesday.

Parise said he is close to a decision and his agent says that could even come before he leaves Toronto on Tuesday.

"All I can say is that we made a lot of progress and we are closer today than yesterday," Parise wrote in a text message to the Star Tribune.

Similarly, Nashville Predators defenseman Ryan Suter, whom the Wild is also pursuing, did not make a decision Monday.

In fact, Suter has yet to talk to any teams personally. All information is being gathered by his agent, Neil Sheehy, and relayed back to Suter at his farm outside Middleton, Wisconsin.

"There is no timetable for his contract signing at this time," Sheehy said. "Ryan is considering his opportunities and is taking the necessary time to give each proper consideration."

The non-decisions by Parise and Suter, two of the highest-sought free agents in NHL history, held the league in a standstill Monday. Not only were reporters and fans waiting, but other than a trade between Dallas and Buffalo, the only free agents of substance to switch addresses was Detroit's Jiri Hudler signing with Calgary and Calgary's Olli Jokinen signing with Winnipeg.

Once Parise and Suter make their decisions, suddenly Plan B's such as free agents Alex Semin and Matt Carle and potential trade baits Rick Nash and Bobby Ryan become some teams' Plan A's.

It appears as if Parise is choosing between Minnesota, Pittsburgh, Chicago, Philadelphia, Detroit and even returning to New Jersey.

Parise spent much of Monday talking to each team again, then "analyzing and overanalyzing" each situation with his representatives.

He talked to the Wild early in the afternoon, then the team spent the rest of the day anxiously waiting. Wild General Manager Chuck Fletcher declined to comment.

Parise called the decision "stressful" as he tries to decide where he's going to spend the majority of the rest of his career.

Some teams, including the Wild, are believed to be offering Parise, 26, contracts of 10 years or more approaching or exceeding $100 million. Suter, 27, is also being offered deals more than 10 years.

Both players could receive frontloaded contracts with lockout protection, meaning they could get $12 million signing bonuses that would be payable even if the season doesn't start on time (the collective bargaining agreement expires Sept. 15) and could make up to $26 million each in the first calendar year of the deal.

"We're trying to make the most informed decision we can," Parise told reporters in Toronto. "That's why we're looking at everything at every angle. It's such a long-term, important decision that you have to make sure you look at everything."

Asked if Suter might talk to teams Tuesday, Sheehy said, "If he wants to. It's a new day. Right now he's comfortable with me doing the talking."

There is a chance Suter would choose his team after Parise's decision. The Wild hopes to land both, which would be a franchise-changing event.

Parise ranks fourth in Devils history with 194 goals and ninth with 410 points. In Predators history, Suter ranks fourth with 542 games and eighth with 238 points.

It's been a suspenseful few days for Wild fans, but PariseWatch and SuterWatch, as it's been dubbed, could be coming to a climax soon.

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