Zach Parise and Ryan Suter hit the jackpot today with identical 13-year contracts worth $98 million with the Minnesota Wild, who shifted from NHL afterthought to playoff contender with a few strokes of a pen. The Fourth of July was one to remember in Minneapolis.
The veteran winger and defenseman were the top two players on the open market, so nabbing both was an obvious coup for the Wild. The Devils and Predators aren't too thrilled about losing their superstars, and the Penguins (Parise) and Red Wings (Suter) aren't happy after getting snubbed. Hockey can be an unforgiving business.
Parise and Suter quietly joined forces last season and talked about playing together before everything came together today. They deserve credit for maximizing their places in the open market, and management deserves credit for making it happen. Just know that their contracts are basically fiction given the way they were structured.
Both are getting paid $35 million in the first three years of the deal and $80 million over the first eight. They will count only $7.5 million against the salary cap because they're set to make a grand total of $4 million over the final three years. Bet on both retiring before they play the final two seasons for $1 million each, which to them amounts to minimum wage.
The front-loaded contracts signed in recent years have become ridiculous. The problem needs to be addressed in negotiations for the new collective bargaining agreement.
They will join Brad Richards and Tyler Myers in a group of players who are set to be paid $12 million for the upcoming season. All four plus Ilya Kovalchuk and Vincent Lecavalier will make $10 million or more this season. Myers’ is scheduled to make $3 million in the final year of his deal, but each of the others has at least one season on their contracts that calls for a $1 million salary.
It's all within the rules, but the front-loaded deals circumvent the spirit of the current CBA and the salary-cap process. The CBA was written, in part, with the idea it would protect the owners from themselves. And yet they're the ones compromising the system.
Suggestion for the next CBA: Use actual salaries as the salary cap figures. If you're making $10 million next season, you should count $10 million against the cap rather than taking the total amount and dividing it by the numbers of years in the deal. It would make for a true cap.
Who wouldn't like a genuine, New Era cap?
--- Bucky Gleason
taggedNHL free agency