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The Minnesota Wild were a starless team in need of a big-time jolt to get the franchise back to the point of being worthy of playing in "the State of Hockey."
The jolts don't come any bigger than this.
The Wild landed not one but both of the NHL's top prizes in free agency, signing forward Zach Parise and defenseman Ryan Suter on Wednesday. Each deal is for 13 years and $98 million, according to three people familiar with the contracts who spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because the team did not release details.
"WE GOT "EM!" the Wild announced on their Twitter account early Wednesday afternoon, sending shockwaves across the league and through a devoted fan base that was starting to show signs of apathy after missing the playoffs for a fourth straight season.
Parise, the former New Jersey Devils playmaker, and Suter, who paired with Shea Weber on the Nashville blue line, were regarded the cream of what was a thin free agent crop, and each had spent the past four days poring over numerous offers from several teams before making a decision.
"This is a great day in the history of the Minnesota Wild," GM Chuck Fletcher said in a conference call.
Maybe THE greatest. The Wild have had a relatively non-descript existence aside from one stirring run to the Western Conference finals in their second season.
Parise was the best forward on the market. He scored 31 goals and 69 points last season in his first year as the Devils' captain. He also chipped in with 15 points in helping the team's surprise run to the Stanley Cup finals, which ended in a six-game series loss to Los Angeles.
Suter, also 27, was the top defenseman available this summer. He spent all seven of his seasons in the NHL with the Predators after being selected with the seventh pick in the 2005 draft. The All-Star defenseman had career highs in points last year, with 7 goals and 39 assists.
- Associated Press