It took until noon on July 4th, but Zach Parise and Ryan Suter both signed with the Minnesota Wild for 13 years and a cool $98M ($7.5M per year). They both also scored heavily front loaded contracts that pays most of the money up front, contracts that in all likelihood will be illegal in the next Collective Bargaining Agreement coming in two months time (hopefully). These contracts are similar to the Brad Richards contract, but with higher cap hits and longer term. This is more money than most fans would want to see their favourite team pay for either player, arguably a crazy move the could cripple this franchise for years to come (in tandem with 6 more years of Mikko Koivu at $6.7M per, and 2 more years of Heatley at $7.5M) not knowing what the next CBA will look like.
There have been some people comparing these signings to LeBron James and Chris Bosh "taking their talents to South Beach", except that there are two key differences: 1) Zach Parise is no LeBron James, 2) Miami was not far removed from a championship and already had one of the league's best players (Mikko Koivu is no Dwayne Wade). The Minnesota Wild have sucked for most of the last decade (minus a few scattered hot streaks), and is an otherwise low budget team suddenly desperate to make a splash to pacify the fans loyally selling out the building each night to watch an inferior product. In terms of comparing this to "the decision" we are talking about much lesser players going to a much lesser franchise. If their destination were about winning, these guys would be Pittsburgh Penguins, Detroit Red Wings, or Philadelphia Flyers today, but no, it is clearly about the money (guaranteed neither the Wings, Flyers, or Pens had offers that high).
It is unclear which of the Wild young defensemen will play with Suter. The choices are Tom Gilbert, Jared Spurgeon, Clayton Stoner, Marco Scandella, Nate Prosser; far from an impressive list, certainly a far cry from what he played with in Nashville. They only have 2 D (including Suter) who have played more than 130 games in the NHL, youthful inexperience to put it mildly. I'm not sure how a team with this blueline is anywhere near a contender. They have too many forwards, not enough experience on D, and are jammed right up against the artificially high summer salary cap (which is likely going down soon).
Those teams that stayed in the bidding to the bitter end, missed out on a number of potential players who made up their minds prior to July 4th. Boy, that PA Parenteau contract looks awfully small right about now. Alex Semin was smart to wait.