Thursday, July 4, 2013

Parise and Suter Watch: One Year Later

It seems like just yesterday. The media watch on coveted free agents Zach Parise and Ryan Suter was now in its fourth day. The date was July 4th, 2012, so one assumed that there would be no significant news on this day, right? Wrong.

Just shortly past eleven, news broke. Zach Parise was signing with his hometown team.
Then before you could collect yourself from the news, lightning struck twice. Ryan Suter joined Parise in Minnesota.

There had never been a moment like that in the history of Minnesota sports. There probably won't be again. It was the single greatest moment in the brief history of the Minnesota Wild.

The Wild had gone four seasons without an appearance in the postseason. They had built up the best pool of prospects in the NHL, after Chuck Fletcher inherited the worst pool of prospects four years earlier. Now all they needed was to land some big time free agents to make the team relevant again.

Now here we are, a year later. The Wild are coming off a lockout shortened season, in which the just barely made the playoffs. Parise was an anchor on the top line and lead the team in goals with 18. Suter lead the NHL in TOI (27:16) and finished second among NHL defenseman in assists (28), while finishing second in the Norris Trophy voting. Suter was also named to the NHL's first All Star team yesterday as well (surprised Ovechkin wasn't voted in as a defenseman too).

The pair lead the team to the playoffs in their first season. They also helped the young kids (Granlund, Coyle, Zucker, Brodin) come along and make significant impacts during the kids' first season in the NHL.

Who knows what happen to the Wild had they not signed Zach Parise and Ryan Suter on this day last year. Its probably fair to assume they dont even make the playoffs for the fifth consecutive season. But luckily for us, we never have to think about that problem.

So now as we move forward, what are the realistic expectations for the Wild in year two of the Parise and Suter era? Division Champions? An appearance in the second round of the playoffs? Conference Final trip?

We can answer that question in the coming weeks. For now, lets just reflect on what a great year it has been.

Here are the old posts in the Parise and Suter Watch series.

Follow Giles on Twitter @gilesferrell

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