By Patrick Knight
Email – firstname.lastname@example.org I Twitter - @patknightk102
Today was a historic day for the Minnesota Wild. The Wild were able to pull off a free agent coup when they signed Zach Parise and Ryan Suter to matching 13-year deals worth $98 million dollars each. Parise, who grew up here in the Twin Cities, and Suter, whose wife is from Bloomington, became the two best free agents in any professional sport to choose to play in the Twin Cities for the rest of their careers. What does this mean for the Wild’s roster going forward?
First, it makes the Wild’s roster a much deeper group of players. If you need an example of how a few players can make a team better and set up their lines, just look at what the Los Angeles Kings did over the past 12 months. The additions the Kings made helped put the right players on their roster in situations where they can ideally succeed. Adding Parise and Suter will do just that here in Minnesota.
Take a look at the Wild’s current roster to see the plethora of talent already here with the likes of: Koivu, Heatley, Setoguchi, Bouchard, Cullen, Gilbert, Scandella and Spurgeon. However, one can argue that due to a litany of different factors, many players were being used on lines and situations that didn’t best suit them. Now, everyone gets a chance to help the team win by being in spots that can help best utilize their skills.
For example, take a look at a player like Kyle Brodziak. When things were going well for both the Wild and for Brodziak personally last season, he was more successful playing on the third line because his game is best suited for that line. I am not saying that Brodziak can’t play on a team’s top two lines but his game seems best suited anchoring the third line. He is now able to play there behind Koivu, Granlund or even Cullen centering the top two lines. There were times last year when Cal Clutterbuck was playing on the top two lines. Again, he can play there but his game is suited more for success playing on a team’s third line.
With the addition of Suter, the defensive group has now settled into a rotation that will put them in places and situations to best succeed. Players like Scandella and Spurgeon will be bumped down from being the top pair to being the second pairing over the boards. Also, Jonas Brodin, Justin Falk, Clayton Stoner and Nate Prosser will have to show up to camp ready to go and fight for one or two remaining spots that will be available.
I can’t stress enough how important internal competition among players is on successful teams. The fact that there are no more “free” roster spots will make the Wild’s on-ice product much more competitive and therefore, more successful. Every aspect of this team’s roster has improved – offensively, defensively, power play and penalty killing. Are they absolutely going to win the Stanley Cup this year? No, I am not saying that. However, what we learned this year is all you have to do is get in the playoffs and anything is possible – look at what the Kings did this year. Again, the reason Los Angeles went on their run was due to the addition of a few great players that solidified their entire team’s roster.