Ryan Suter is now officially financially set for life. So are his future kids, and likely many generations of Suters to come.
On the 4th of July, the Minnesota Wild set off fireworks as they made the greatest American born defenseman in the NHL one of the highest paid players in the league. The former Badger agreed to terms with Minnesota on a 13 year contract worth $98 million dollars.
Suter said that Minnesota was a team that jumped out right from the beginning of the free agent process to him.
"When the season ends and you start thinking what’s next, big thing is my family, obviously. They (Minnesota) were an option right away."
Much of Suter's family legacy is based around hockey. His father Bob was a member of the 1980 United States hockey team that won a gold medal at the Lake Placid Olympics. His uncle Gary is a five-time NHL All-Star and like Bob, a United States Hockey Hall of Famer.
Suter is from Madison, and lives just outside the city in the off-season. In answering questions about deciding on Minnesota, Suter reiterated that this was a family decision.
"Eventually it just came down to where my family would like to live. My wife is from Bloomington, Minn. That had a lot to do with it."
Suter wasn't the only NHL superstar to agree to terms with Minnesota on Wednesday. New Jersey Devils forward Zach Parise also signed with the Wild, agreeing to an identical 13 year, $98 million dollar deal.
Suter said that both he and Parise had been in contact throughout the process.
"We were in contact, texting back and forth, asking about different places and different situations where we both could work," Suter said. "Probably last night and this morning it became realistic."
Parise told the media that this is something the two had talked about for quite a while.
"Ryan and I had talked throughout the year, at the time you always say to each other, ‘Wouldn’t it be great to have a chance play with each other on the same team?"
Suter and Parise played together at the 2010 Olympics in Vancouver where they were focal points of a United States squad that won a silver medal. Parise understands just how good Ryan Suter is.
"I know how great Ryan is. To have an opportunity to play with a guy of that caliber is a great opportunity."
Suter played just one season for the Badgers in 2003-2004 recording 19 points (3-16-19) in 39 games. The 6'1, 195 pound defenseman had planned to return for his sophomore year, but questions about entry level NHL salaries being cut significantly forced Suter to sign with Nashville early.
After a year in the AHL during the 2004 NHL lockout, Suter has since spent the past seven seasons in the NHL with Nashville. His time in the Predators family was one of the major reasons why it was so hard for him to make the decision to leave as a free agent. Suter said that telling Nashville he was leaving was the hardest thing he's ever had to do.
"I talked to (Nashville GM) David Poile this morning. Toughest phone call that I’ve ever had to make in my life. It was so hard to make that to David, David had done so much for me. They’re a first class operation in Nashville, and it starts with David Poile."
Suter will now anchor a blue-line in Minnesota that should feature some familiar faces for Badger fans. Former Wisconsin defenseman Tom Gilbert joined the Wild last season after coming over in a trade from Edmonton.
Additionally, Suter will join recently signed forward and one of his best friends Jake Dowell, as well as Dany Heatley who was traded to Minnesota last summer from the San Jose Sharks.
The additions of Parise and Suter likely won't make the Wild a Stanley Cup contender right out of the gates, but they are sure headed in the right direction. With the expected infusion of top prospects Jonas Brodin, Mikael Granlund, Jason Zucker, Matt Dumba and Charlie Coyle over the next couple of seasons, the Wild are unquestionably a team on the rise.
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