Ryan Suter brings the puck up ice for the Predators last season. (Tony Gutierrez / Associated…)
The Minnesota Wild's high point was reaching the Western Conference final in 2003 and after that … almost nothing.
Minnesota has not won a single playoff round since being swept by the Ducks in that 2003 series, and has missed making the playoffs the last four seasons.
So, what in the name of Sidney Crosby were the likes of forward Zach Parise and defenseman Ryan Suter thinking when they each signed a reported $13-year, $98-million contract Wednesday with the Wild?
Location, location, location.
Parise's father, J.P., played for the Minnesota North Stars and Zach lives in Minnesota in the off-season and has deep ties to the community. For Parise, it came down to two teams, the Wild and the Devils, as he has spent his entire NHL career in New Jersey.
"Every kid growing up in Minnesota would love to play with the Wild. That's the way it is," Parise said on a conference call.
His buddy and U.S. Olympic teammate Suter played at the University of Wisconsin and his wife is from Bloomington, Minn. The duo decided they wanted to play together on the same team, and that drove the process, which included serious bids from Pittsburgh, Detroit, Chicago and Philadelphia, among others. The Kings gave it a go with Parise but considered any hopes of winning the sweepstakes a longshot.
Suter, who had played all of his seven NHL seasons for Nashville, found it difficult to break the news to Predators executive David Poile, saying it was "toughest phone call" that he had to make.
The Wild's future looked bright even before the twin signings. Minnesota had the league's highest point total at Thanksgiving last season and the experts have consistently touted the potential of their draftees.
The dominoes are expected to fall in the league after the free-agent marquee names made the move to Minnesota. Taking center stage will be the continued efforts of the Blue Jackets to trade Rick Nash and the future of Bobby Ryan in Anaheim. The Kings already had moved on to Plan B, which involves Coyotes captain Shane Doan.
But Doan is waiting to see if there is some clarity in the Coyotes' long-running ownership saga. Plan C for the Kings isn't bad either. Make no changes and bring back the Stanley Cup championship team intact.