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Insider Only Sweepstakes Wrapup: How the failed pursuit of Ryan Suter and Zach Parise played out for the Penguins

It took Penguins GM Ray Shero officially four days to find out that Zach Parise and Ryan Suter weren’t coming to Pittsburgh, but in reality Shero seemed to know quickly that Suter wouldn’t be coming and on Tuesday night Shero seemed to get the sense that Parise also wouldn’t be coming to join Sidney Crosby for the next 10-12 years.
“Through their agents that represent them, they had a process in place ” Shero said of the long process. “It took four days to find out but we respect the process.” They’re both obviously very good players, ” he said.  “Zach is we all know, he’s a really good two-way player, he had our interest and we felt he’d be a really good fit short and long term. Same as Ryan Suter, a top pairing defenseman and these guys are hard to find.”
Contrary to media members out there believing the Penguins were the favorites, they never really were for Parise. I was told today that the Penguins felt very good about their chances to land Parise about four to five hours into day 1 of NHL Free Agency on July 1 but that was about it.
Pittsburgh believed they made a very effective sales pitch to Parise on Sunday and that there was genuine interest from him, but from Monday on, Parise’s reps at Newport Sports established minimal talks with the Penguins and pretty much had the Penguins in the dark from Tuesday morning until they finally informed the Penguins they were officially out of the mix Wednesday. The Penguins never got the opportunity to engage in serious negotiations with Parise or Suter, Shero indicated today.
“We never got close to anything like that in terms of any verbal agreement or any sort of negotiations ” Shero said regarding negotiations with both players. “We made offers to both players and maybe with possibility of trying to get both. Came pretty apparent that over course of few days with Ryan that he probably wasn’t coming this way and with Zach didn’t really know what was going on until last night.”
As for why it took four days for agent Neil Sheehy to officially tell the Penguins they weren’t under any consideration when it became clear as early as Monday morning that Suter had his sights set on Minnesota, Detroit or Nashville remains unclear, especially the fact that Sheehy informed other teams in the Eastern Conference that Suter had no interest in coming to the East. “I did reach out to Ryan Suter, ” Devils GM Lou Lamoriello said today via conference call. “He did not have any interest in coming to this conference.”
With these type of players, Shero felt even though it was becoming apparent that they likely weren’t coming here, there was no reason to move on before receiving official word from those camps.
“We didn’t miss out on anybody, ” Shero said when asked of waiting around for Suter and Parise. “There isn’t another Suter and Parise out there. We didn’t miss out on anybody. That’s what we were waiting on and others were in the same boat. We knew that guys were signing, but they aren’t at this level  that’s for sure, ” Shero said.
“What you needed in this situation is for one of these players to come back and say Pittsburgh’s the place I want to play, let’s try to work something out, ” Shero said. “Then you go and work on structure, signing bonus, whatever you need to work on to make a deal happen. Certainly we never got to that point.”
The sense with Parise is that right off bat playing in Pittsburgh really jumped out to him and he had strong interest but as the process drawn out, factors such as the Penguins being in the Eastern Conference and playing the New Jersey Devils six times a year came into play, among other factors, including the fact that Pittsburgh is also not his hometown. According to an individual directly involved in the negotiations, at the end of the day Pittsburgh ended up being a distant fourth, behind Minnesota, New Jersey and Chicago who started making a charge for Parise on Monday.
RANGERS A BIG WINNER WITH PARISE DEPARTING NEW JERSEY, NOT GOING TO PITTSBURGH
The Minnesota Wild were obviously huge winners today as the signing of Parise and Suter reshape their franchises but a big winner is a team that wasn’t even evolved in the chase; The New York Rangers
New York which led the Eastern Conference in points last season and reached the conference finals have big expectations now on their shoulders going into next season with those expectations being the next jump is the Stanley Cup, and Parise departing New Jersey was big for them but Parise also not joining Pittsburgh was big for New York.
The Penguins are a team that matched up well with the Rangers last season and New York’s achilles heel is their struggles to score and Pittsburgh adding Parise would have made it extremely difficult for the Rangers to match up with Pittsburgh offensively. While New York still needs to add a top flight scorer in a Rick Nash or Bobby Ryan, Pittsburgh losing Staal, Michalek, and Sullivan and New Jersey losing Parise makes them much weaker teams than they were at the end of the season. Without making an impact move yet, things have still played out well so far for the Rangers this season when it comes to their top counterparts taking steps back from a personnel view as not only has Pittsburgh and New Jersey been hit, but so have the Flyers who failed to get Ryan Suter and are expected to lose Matt Carle to Tampa Bay.
The main losers of the Zach Parise and Ryan Suter decisions to sign in Minnesota was the players two previous teams New Jersey, Nashville, and you can add the Detroit Red Wings to that group who counted on signing at least one of them and were close to signing Suter. This was Detroit’s planned big summer to make a splash. For the Predators, it’s a frustrating situation for them to lose a star player who has come up through their system and Suter not returning will likely lead to Shea Weber orchestrating his way out of Nashville. Weber a restricted free agent, is an UFA next season.
REACTIONS TO PARISE, SUTER SIGNINGS
Wild GM Chuck Fletcher: “This is a great day in the history of the Minnesota Wild,” general manager Chuck Fletcher said. “We are extremely excited to add the collective skill, experience and character of Zach Parise and Ryan Suter to an already promising roster. We view this as a rare opportunity for us to transform our franchise by adding two marquee players, who are both in the prime of their careers.”
Parise on picking Minnesota over New Jersey: “In the end, it came down between New Jersey and Minnesota. I have great friends in New Jersey. I’m a loyal person. I loved playing there. It came down to coming home and being around family.”
Parise on being combo-package with Ryan Suter: “We kept in touch throughout this whole thing and we decided that we thought for both of us that the best fit would be Minnesota,” Parise said in a conference call. “We’re excited that it worked out and we get a chance to play with each other.”I know how great Ryan is and to have an opportunity to play with a guy of that caliber is a great opportunity.”
Parise on joining hometown team: “My parents were so excited when they knew that I was considering coming back home. When I made the decision they were real excited as well. That played a big part. I grew up here, I love coming back here in the summers, and I thought, ‘We enjoy it here so much it would be great to be here year round.”
Devils GM Lou Lamoriello on Parise’s decision: “Zach told me this. If it wasn’t for going home to Minnesota, he’d be coming to New Jersey,” Lamoriello said on a conference call with reporters. “It was one of the toughest decisions he said he had to make. I respect that decision to make. We can’t get into minds of people. In my opinion, our organization did whatever it possibly could to retain him and it’s a decision he made.”
Predators GM David Poile on losing Ryan Suter: “It would be an understatement to say that the Nashville Predators are disappointed at this time,” Poile said. “Actually, not disappointed, but very surprised.”
IDENTICAL STRUCTURES OF PARISE, SUTER CONTRACTS
Ryan Suter and Zach Parise both signed 13 year – $98 million contracts and the contracts are also identical in the year to year structure:
2012-2013: $12 million ($10 million signing bonus, $2 million salary)
2013-2014: $12 million ($10 million signing bonus, $2 million salary)
2014-2015: $11 million
2015-2016: $9 million
2016-2017: $9 million
2017-2018: $9 million
2018-2019: $9 million
2019-2020: $9 million
2020-2021: 8 million
2021-2022: $6 million
2022-2023: $2 million
2023-2024: $1 million
2024-2025: $1 million

About The Author

William DePaoli

TIOPS Insider

William DePaoli is the President/Founder of Inside Pittsburgh Sports LLC and can be reached at wdepaoli@insidepittsburghsports.com

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