On July 4th, 2012, the Minnesota Wild landed both of the top free agents on the market in New Jersey’s Zach Parise and Nashville’s Ryan Suter. After signing identical thirteen-year, 98 million dollar contract, nine years later, they will be leaving the organization together via buyouts as announced by Wild General Manager, Bill Guerin earlier today.
The savings for the Wild in the short-term are tremendous, as it gives them just above $10 million extra dollars for the 2021-22 season, as Calder Trophy winner Kirill Kaprizov, as well as talented winger Kevin Fiala need new deals. In looking at the cap savings across the buyout period, the Wild did not have the opportunity to earn the $10 million in extra space in any season besides 2021-22, making the buyout a bit more rational, as that benefit couldn’t have occurred had they waited another year to make this decision. Each buyout is structured exactly the same way, as both Suter and Parise’s cap hits next season (2021-22) are $2.371 million, $6.371 million in 2022-23, $7.371 million in 2023-24 and 2024-25, and 833k from the 2025-26 season until the conclusion of the 2028-29 season. When doubled, the amount of dead money on the books for the Minnesota Wild is $4.742 million in 2021-22 (saving $10.332 million), $12.742 million in 2022-23 (saving $1.166 million), $14.742 million in 2023-24 and 2024-25 (saving 332k in each season), and a penalty cost of $1.666 million against the cap until the end of the 2028-29 season.
Zach Parise is one of the better, most consistent players according to AB in the history of our work, as his career AB score of 5.56 across the fourteen year period is outstanding. Parise had the 7th highest AB score of any Wild player this season at +5.02, despite him scoring seven goals and eleven assists for eighteen points in forty-five games. Parise’s average ice time of 13:57 this season was his lowest average TOI since his rookie season in 2005-06, when it was 13:08. It was also a four minute decrease from his 2019-20 number of 17:12, as a full season under Dean Evason may have been a significant factor. Even in his lesser role, Parise appeared to be doing a great job by our standards, and we believe he still has a lot to offer a team in the NHL. At last year’s NHL trade deadline, there were rumors that the New York Islanders had interest in acquiring him, and a deal fell through at the last minute. We expect the Islanders to be the front-runners to sign Parise following this buyout on July 28th, and we think they’ll be adding another solid veteran presence to their locker room, continuing on Lamoriello’s trend of adding ex-New Jersey Devils. Ryan Suter had his best individual AB season with a full year of Dean Evason’s coaching since the 2016-17 season, where he registered a +15.42 score. His +3.44 score this season was the 3rd highest of any Wild defenseman, behind only Carson Soucy’s +6.96 and Ian Cole’s +4.48. Like Parise, Suter’s career AB score is a positive number at +1.06 over the same fourteen year span. Although, unlike Parise, Suter still played significant minutes with an average TOI at 22:11 per game. However, this was Suter’s lowest average TOI since his 2007-08 season with the Nashville Predators where he averaged 20:35 a game. Suter had more points than Parise this season, as he scored three goals and registered sixteen assists for nineteen points in a full fifty-six games for the Wild. At a lesser cap number, these are players competitive teams like the Minnesota Wild should try and hold on too, however, the immediate $10 million in savings could be the answer in signing the good young players this team has for the foreseeable future (or perhaps make a run at Jack Eichel with the extra money).
This also benefits the Wild in expansion purposes, as they’re no longer required to protect Parise and Suter’s NMC’s creating two protection slot openings. In our Seattle projection article, we originally had Suter waiving his, but Parise declining. However, in light of these buyouts, we now believe the Wild’s expansion draft protection list will look something like the one below.
Forward 1- Mats Zuccarello (NMC)
Forward 2- Joel Eriksson Ek
Forward 3- Kevin Fiala
Forward 4- Ryan Hartman
Forward 5- Nico Sturm
Forward 6- Marcus Foligno
Forward 7- Jordan Greenway
Defenseman 1- Matt Dumba
Defenseman 2- Jonas Brodin
Defenseman 3- Jared Spurgeon
Goaltender 1- Cam Talbot
Notable UFAs- Marcus Johansson, Nick Bonino, Ian Cole
Notable Exempt– Kirill Kaprizov, Marco Rossi, Matthew Boldy, Calen Addison
Notable Exposed– Carson Soucy, Nick Bjugstad, Viktor Rask, Kaapo Kahkonen
Our projected pick for the Wild despite these moves today remains the same, as we think they will likely lose Carson Soucy to Seattle unless they opt to trade him first. The expansion list above meets all required exposure criteria for the Wild, as Bjugstad and Rask satisfy the two forwards, Soucy the defenseman, and Kahkonen the goaltender. Minnesota having to say goodbye to two of the franchise’s most important players over the last nine seasons is certainly something to be disappointed in, but the immediate savings as well as expansion flexibility made it worth Bill Guerin’s time in the end. We are very excited to see what other important decisions are coming for the Wild, as well as the other 29 teams participating in the expansion draft in the coming weeks, as we will be here to cover it. Much more to come.