July 4th, 2012 is one of the most important days in Minnesota Wild History with two Franchise Altering Acquisitions: Signing of Ryan Suter and Zach Parise.
It was the 2011-2012 season, the Wild had just missed the playoffs for the fourth consecutive season. There was a lack of high-end elite talent on the team, which was so clearly evident. Other than the likes of Mikko Koivu, Dany Heatley, and Kyle Brodziak, the three leading scorers for the Wild, there was little to no depth.
The franchise was in a state of uncertainty. Not a single player on the Wild had hit 25 goals or 55 points, there was a much-needed change. The Wild were frankly desperate for anything to revamp the fanbase, team, and the State of Hockey. Minnesota had not had a high-end elite player since Marián Gáborík.
Ryan Suter and Zach Parise were that change.
They created a new kind of excitement. A fresh start and a chance to grow the team to being a perennial playoff team that would hopefully develop the promising roster into a contender.
Zach Parise, a Minnesota native, returned to the State of Hockey after spending seven seasons with the New Jersey Devils, which saw him develop into one of the league’s most explosive and gritty wingers in the NHL and put him atop of the list among the best free agents available in the summer of 2012. Parise amassed 194 goals, 216 assists for a total of 410 points in New Jersey while also having a prominent role in helping the New Jersey Devils make it to the Stanley Cup Finals in 2011-2012.
Minnesota hockey ran in the family as his father J.P. Parise played for the Minnesota North Stars, and just like J.P., Zach is a talented hockey player.
Ryan Suter, a Wisconsin native, decided to play a lot closer to home. Ryan Suter’s wife was born in Minnesota, which could have played an immense impact on his decision to join Zach Parise and ultimately agree to be a member of the Minnesota Wild. Suter, who was a first-pairing defenseman on the backend for Nashville, just came off a career year which helped place himself atop of the list for available free agents. Suter, accumulated 38 goals, 200 assists for 238 points in seven seasons for Nashville. Suter, a stay at home defenseman, was and still is known for logging north of 25 minutes per night, and his stay at home defensive style and ability to thread passes/shots for well-crafted deflections on the powerplay, a perfect compliment for Zach Parise’s forte.
Bleacher Report had Zach Parise as the #1 LW UFA and Ryan Suter as the #1 D UFA for the 2012 Free Agency Period. There was no doubt that Parise and Suter were atop the Free Agency Class, hence the variety of offers from several NHL teams.
There is no doubt why Parise and Suter were both prized possessions in the summer of 2012, their resumes speak for themselves. Their experience, leadership, and character were among the reasons why the Wild pursued Parise and Suter so heavily. They both were elite-caliber players looking for a lucrative contract, and inevitably shared the face of the franchise.
July 4th, 2012 was the day the franchise-altering signing was made to secure the two biggest free agents in their respective positions. The Minnesota Wild signed Zach Parise and Ryan Suter both to identical 13-year, 98 million contracts. At the time, Minnesota General Manager Chuck Fletcher, explained it well, “This is a great day in the history of the Minnesota Wild”.