The Minnesota Wild has hit the jackpot by adding Zach Parise and Ryan Suter to a team that has talent but has missed the playoffs the last few years. But with these two additions, it puts the Wild in a position that it has never experienced before.
Let me bring you back all the way to the summer of 2003 when another Minnesota sports team (Timberwolves) acquired two big players. The Timberwolves acquired both Sam Cassell and Latrell Sprewell in a trade that sent away Joe Smith and Terrell Brandon. Acquiring Cassell and Sprewell, pairing them with superstar Kevin Garnett, immediately elevated the Timberwolves from perennial playoff team to “the team to beat” in the NBA. I would like to note that the Wolves were and Wild is in different positions. The Wolves had a superstar and were consistently one of the best teams in the Western Conference. The Wild has missed the playoffs the last few years and haven’t really been relevant.
Even though Cassell and Sprewell were nearing the end of their careers, they still gave Minnesota fans plenty of hope. The Wolves went on to win 58 games during the 2003-2004 season and despite their franchise-long playoff struggles, they blew-out the Denver Nuggets in five games, then took on a Sacramento Kings team that was at the end of their Western Conference run. Thanks to a monster series from Garnett, the Wolves survived the Kings in seven games. They met the Los Angeles Lakers in the Western Conference Finals, a team that had eliminated them the previous year. Thanks to a hip injury to Cassell, the Wolves weren’t able to keep pace with the Lakers and lost in six games.
That was the last time the Wolves were relevant.
But with the Parise-Suter signings, the Wild’s outlook is completely different. Parise is in the prime of his career and at only 27 years old, he can still get better. He gives the Wild an immediate offensive threat and brings leadership and experience to a young-er team. Suter is also 27 years old and considered one of the best defensemen in hockey. With these signings, the Wild has surpassed the “relevant” stage that some teams are elevated to when they sign a good or great player, and jumped into Stanley Cup contention.
Lastly, the 4th of July in the summer of 2012 will go down as the best summer ever for the Wild franchise and organization. It can’t get better than this, can it? Parise will join Dany Heatley, Mikko Kiovu and Kyle Brodziak on the offensive side of the puck while Suter joins Jared Spurgeon, Marco Scandella and Clayton Stoner to form a solid defensive front.
In case you didn’t know, the Wild has Parise and Suter locked-up for 13 years and $98 million apiece.
Hopefully I get a real job before their contracts are up.