DETROIT - Call it a Wild day for Minnesota, a team that landed not one but both of the NHL's top players available in free agency: Forward Zach Parise and defenseman Ryan Suter.
"WE GOT `EM!" the Wild announced on their Twitter account early Wednesday afternoon. Both players were regarded the cream of what was a thin free agent crop, and each had spent the past four days poring over numerous offers from several teams before making a decision.
Parise leaves the New Jersey Devils, while Suter leaves the Nashville Predators in joining forces to take their talents far from South Beach, but instead to the Land of 1,000 Lakes.
Each player agreed to a 13-year contract, the team said Wednesday. Terms of the deals were not immediately announced, but each contact was expected to be in the $100 million range.
Parise was the best forward on the market. He scored 31 goals and 69 points last season in his first year as the Devils' captain. He also chipped in with 15 points in helping the team's surprise run to the Stanley Cup finals, which ended in a six-game series loss to Los Angeles.
Drafted 17th overall by New Jersey in 2003, the 27-year-old is from Minnesota and has 194 goals and 216 assists in 503 career games. He scored 30-plus goals five times.
Suter, also 27, was the top defenseman available this summer. He spent all seven of his season in the NHL with the Predators after being selected with the seventh pick in the 2005 draft. The All-Star defenseman had career highs in points last year, with 7 goals and 39 assists.
Parise tried to explain why he needed more than a few days to announce his intentions, saying he was evaluating each team and city that was trying to sign him.
Second-tier free agents such as defenseman Matt Carle and forward Alexander Semin seemed to be waiting for Suter and Praise to reach agreements so that they could offer their talents to teams that didn't get a top target.
The Detroit Red Wings were among the teams to take a run at both players, and were most interested in Suter as a player who could fill in after captain Nicklas Lidstrom retired.
"We feel good about our offer to Suter and Parise on July 1, and with our chance to adjust our offer to Suter on July 2," Red Wings general manager Ken Holland said by phone.
Holland said team owner Mike Ilitch and coach Mike Babcock joined him in making a presentation to Suter. He said they didn't have an opportunity to make a similar presentation to Parise.
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