The Minnesota Wild bought out the final four years on the contracts of forward Zach Parise and defenseman Ryan Suter on Tuesday. Parise and Suter, both 36, were set to enter the tenth year of their massive identical 13-year, $98-million deals signed with Minnesota back in 2012.
So with both veterans now technically free agents, it’s a matter of when (not if) in terms of when teams are going to start calling. One team that could be an intriguing landing spot for both veterans? The Islanders, of course.
With that said, let’s look at both players and how they could *potentially* fit into the Isles’ lineup.
Parise is a name Isles fans should be very familiar with. Near the end of the 2020 trade deadline, word surfaced that Parise would be coming to Long Island in what seemed like a blockbuster trade. It was rumored to be Parise and former Wild captain Mikko Koivu were to be acquired in exchange for Andrew Ladd, Kieffer Bellows and the Isles’ first-round pick in 2020. But with Koivu refusing to waive his no-trade clause, the deal eventually fell through (which isn’t necessarily a bad thing considering that first rounder in 2020 was the main chip in the Isles’ trade to Ottawa for Jean-Gabriel Pageau).
Many Isles fans were against the move for a few different reasons. Some didn’t want to give up Bellows, and others didn’t want the team to lose their first round pick — both of which are very understandable. They scoffed when realizing Parise’s services came with a 7.5M cap hit, basically swapping one bad contract just to rid themselves of another in Ladd.
Well, the veteran forward doesn’t have that massive cap hit attached to him anymore… which should be a green flag for a lot of clubs.
WHAT. A. GOAL.
Zach Parise ties it up for the @mnwild in Game 7.
— The Athletic (@TheAthletic) May 29, 2021
Parise signing with the Isles also looks pretty obvious from a few different angles. Starting out, he’s already got ties with the Isles considering his father, J.P., played four seasons with the Isles from 1974-75 up to 1978-79. J.P. scored the game-winning goal in the 1975 playoffs to give the franchise its first ever postseason series win. Parise is also linked with current Isles g.m Lou Lamoriello. Lamoriello drafted Parise 17th overall back in the 2003 Entry Draft when he ran the Devils and was watched him grow into both a star and future captain.
Connections aside, I can understand why some Isles fans might still be against this move. Parise is 36 (set to be 37 on July 28) and has a lot of mileage on him. Adding a player like that to a roster — one already recognized as one of the oldest in the league — might not look the greatest on paper. However, when you look at the veteran leadership and playoff experience he brings to the table, it’s a bit more enticing to see what happens. He might not be the elite offensive talent he was, but Parise can still chip in a decent amount of offense for an Isles team that needs scoring, more than guys like Leo Komarov, Michael Dal Colle or Travis Zajac anyway.
So two questions remain now: 1) Where would Parise fit into the lineup, and 2) What kind of a deal would he be offered?
If the Isles bring in Parise, it’ll likely be to play in the bottom-six. He would fit best on the third line alongside J.G. Pageau. Given his age, a deal with Parise should be short-term, either one or two years. Salary is where things begin to get iffy. depending on certain signing bonuses or other incentives. The ideal price budget would range from league minimum 750,000 to $1.5M max.
There really hasn’t been anything official linking Suter to the Islanders, but you never know what Lamoriello has up his sleeve.
This is more speculative than anything else…but the last time they were both free agents, Parise and Suter signed with the same club. Who’s to say history doesn’t repeat itself this time around (with much shorter and cheaper contracts)?
When you look at the way Suter plays, it would be difficult to picture him struggling under Barry Trotz (who coached Suter for years with the Nashville Predators). He’s physical, blocks shots and is just a solid all-around player. Suter’s also the type of veteran player that Trotz has an eye for.
— Spoked Z (@SpokedZ) March 24, 2021
There are a lot more question marks surrounding a potential Suter signing than Parise. The biggest being where would he fit in the lineup.
As of now — and assuming Nick Leddy is an Islander going into next season — it’s likely that Suter would hypothetically play on the third pair with Noah Dobson. The picture does become a bit more skewed though with Andy Greene looking to come back, and even some of the club’s defensive prospects (Samuel Bolduc, Robin Salo) possibly making the jump to the varsity next season.
If Leddy is gone, however, that entire mentality changes. Dobson would likely take on his top-four minutes, leaving a slot open on the bottom pairing.
Bringing in a guy like Parise on the right contract would be a solid move. He would be a great fit in the bottom-six, and his veteran leadership and presence would go a long way with younger guys like Mathew Barzal and Anthony Beauvillier. Same thing goes with Suter, although there’s a bit tighter of a squeeze bringing on another defenseman.
Follow Carter on Twitter at @cbentivenga14