Six years ago, the Wild officially signed winger Zach Parise and defenseman Ryan Suter – the top-two headliners in NHL free agency in 2012 – to 13-year, $98 million contracts.
My story Sunday looked at the impact the two have had on the franchise so far, on and off the ice, while also forecasting what the team’s future could look like as the two near the end of their contracts. Read it here.
After the Wild wrapped the 2011-12 season out of the playoffs for a fourth straight time, team brass huddled up and decided it would pursue one of the two.
Whether that would be Parise or Suter was up in the air, but the Wild budgeted for the addition.
The idea of targeting both didn’t dawn on the Wild until just a few days before free agency opened July 1, but team personnel wasn’t the first to anticipate the two playing together; Parise and Suter, who previously suited up alongside each other for Team USA in international competition, had discussed it in the past.
It wasn’t until the end of July 1, though, that the two really focused on the potential.
A Bloomington native, Parise was intrigued by the possibility of returning home to play. Joining a team that could consistently contend was also a priority. Suter also had ties to the area; his wife Becky is from Minnesota, and the Midwest lifestyle appealed to him after growing up in Wisconsin.
What helped the Wild’s case, too, was the fact it was able to accommodate both contracts.
At the time of negotiations, there was no stipulation in the collective bargaining agreement that limited the length of contracts. But after the league rejected a whopping 17-year, $102 million deal between Ilya Kovalchuk and the Devils in 2010, the NHL and NHL Players Association agreed that the cap hit for any contract longer than five years would be recalculated once a player turned 41 during that deal.
That influenced Suter and Parise, essentially capping them at a 13-year commitment since they’d each be 40 years old in the final season of those contracts.
“There’s a lot of variables that can happen in 13 years,” Wild owner Craig Leipold said. “But that was the risk we were willing to take in order to get those two players.”
Contracts like the ones Parise and Suter signed don’t exist anymore; the CBA that went into effect just months after the two joined the Wild capped commitments (at seven and eight years) for the first time, nixing the ability of teams to lower cap hits by extending an agreement into double digits – potentially to the point that it exceeded a player’s projected career length in the NHL’s mind.
“We also felt that a provision implementing term limits on contracts was a reasonable and responsible ‘allocation tool’ within the overall Cap system,” NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly wrote in an email, “which hopefully would operate to better ensure that the overall pool of dollars available for Player compensation in any given year was being distributed in a fair and equitable way."