Bill Guerin announced on Tuesday that the Minnesota Wild would be buying out the final four seasons of forward Zach Parise and defender Ryan Suter. The two players signed tandem 13-year, $98 million contracts on July 4, 2012, which had a $7.54 million cap hit (AAV).
“We want to thank Zach and Ryan for the nine years that they’ve given the Minnesota Wild,” the GM said according to NHL.com. “They’ve given everything they’ve had on the ice and off the ice. And they’ve had an incredible impact on this organization and in the Twin Cities. A very difficult decision that over lots of time and lots of meetings, lots of things went into this decision. But it’s a big decision that I feel we needed to make in order to keep moving forward.”
The buyouts will make both players unrestricted free agents on July 28. While Parise’s next move seems obvious, Suter’s next destination is less clear.
“I think a lot of people would be surprised if Suter ended up in Canada,” Elliotte Friedman said on his 31 Thoughts Podcast. “He’s an American guy. He’s a Team USA guy. He’s always played in the states, I could always be surprised.
“I think Vegas, a lot of people think Colorado, I’ve had a few people think Washington, that those would be the kind of places that he could potentially end up. I had one guy who said, ‘Don’t forget he played for Barry Trotz.’ Is there any chance both of these guys — because everybody thinks Parise is going to the Islanders — is there any chance both of these guys end up on the Islanders? The people I know who know Suter say they’d be very surprised if he ended up in Canada [to reunite with Montreal’s Shea Weber].”
If the Capitals were to go after the left-handed shooting Suter, who Friedman described as “still a really good D”, he would likely play a similar third-pairing role as Zdeno Chara did last season. The Capitals have three left-shooting D returning for next season including Dmitry Orlov, Brenden Dillon, and Michal Kempny. Martin Fehervary is also expected to graduate to the NHL next season. Chara is currently pondering retirement.
Like Chara, Suter at age 36 has a lot of miles on his tires. For almost a decade he averaged over 25 minutes per game.
Just three active players have played more minutes than he (Chara, Thornton, and Marleau). Now Suter is nearing the end of his career, but there’s some debate about how viable he remains. The Wild controlled 48.5 percent of shot attempts during Suter’s shifts this season and 53.4 percent of the expected goals. But those kinds of numbers — and their volume/quality split — aren’t uncommon with the Wild.
Suter’s proximity to Jared Spurgeon is significant. They played 728 minutes together in the shortened season, making them one of the most consistent pairs in the whole league. But a with-or-without-you analysis suggests that Spurgeon was the one driving the pair. Spurgeon performed about the same apart from Suter, but the game pace exploded a lot (especially for Minnesota) in the couple of hours Suter played apart without Spurgeon, suggesting chaos in the neutral zone.
Those are our annotations on top of a chart from Micah Blake McCurdy, who draws a similar conclusion based on which side of ice opponents get more shots from.
I’m a fair bit less bullish on Ryan Suter than most, it looks like – I think he’s been carried by Spurgeon defensively a fair bit in recent years. The divide in the impact along the split line defensively is also interesting (Suter plays LHD). pic.twitter.com/KCjw96yKhx
— Micah Blake McCurdy (@IneffectiveMath) July 13, 2021
Minnesota’s been a subtly strong team for years now, but it seems like Suter is no longer part of that strength. For a team like Washington, who already has trouble defending against the rush and neutral-zone play in general, Suter would be a poor match — even if the dollars made sense.
Speaking of: after buying out Suter and Parise, the Wild will save over $10 million in 2021-22, but pay a $1.7 million penalty from 2025 through 2029.
How much cap space does the #MNWild collectively save from these buyouts?
— CapFriendly (@CapFriendly) July 13, 2021
There were other benefits too, according to Friedman.
The other thing people have to realize is if either one of these two guys retired early, the cap recapture penalties on the Wild were going to be massive. So this is about who has control? And now Minnesota, knowing that there could have been potentially cap issues or recapture issues with them – are saying ‘we’re taking control of this situation and if there’s going to be damage it’s going to be at our hand and our control as opposed to anyone else’s.’ So they’ve bought out those two players. They don’t have to go on waivers. They both had no-move clauses. They’ll both be unrestricted free agents right now.
I think Seattle looked at Minnesota and said, ‘ok, it’s gonna be Dumba or Sturm or it’s going to be a goalie.’ And now it’s not going to be Dumb. It’s not going to be Sturm. It’s now likely Seattle’s pick from Minnesota will be either [Cam] Talbot or [Kaapo] Kahkonen – either one that’s not protected. This is Bill Guerin, who has big brass ones, taking control of the decision making of his organization.
It’s also going to change the fabric of the team. Parise and Suter were big voices in that room. Parise, as his role decreased, I think his voice kind of decreased to his frustration but Suter still had a very very big voice in that room. And now that’s going to change. It’s going to be interesting to see how the personality of that team changes now. They went from Koivu having a big voice, to Suter, Parise, and Koivu having a big voice. It didn’t always mix very well. There was a little bit of alpha male of who has control of this in here. Now we’ll see where it goes. Is it Dumba? Is it somebody else? So not only does it change their roster, it also changes the mix of their personality. This is going to have a big effect on the overall group.
Headline photo: Cara Bahniuk/RMNB
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