The Detroit Red Wings were considered favorites to land two of the NHL’s biggest free agents. However, not even the allure of Hockeytown could secure Zach Parise and Ryan Suter, who reportedly signed matching 13-year, $98 million deals with the Minnesota Wild.
Parise helped lead the New Jersey Devils to the Stanley Cup Finals and had said in the past that he’d love to play with Red Wings star Pavel Datsyuk. The 27-year-old would have been a valuable addition to an offense that desperately needs more grit — and Parise would have provided that. Although he’s not a bruiser, he’s a smart player who knows when and when not to mix it up with others.
Detroit will have to continue its search. But make no mistake, failing to land Parise is a huge blow to the Red Wings, who were intent on making aggressive moves in the offseason.
After Red Wings captain and seven-time Norris Trophy-winner Nicklas Lidstrom retired, the cries for another defenseman became louder and clearer. Granted, no one could replace Lidstrom, but Suter was viewed as the next best thing. The former first-rounder completed a respectable season with the Nashville Predators — who downed the Red Wings in the playoffs — and was the most-coveted blue-liner in the eyes of Detroit followers.
He was reportedly offered a 13-year, $90 million deal Tuesday. No dice. Suter, who is a close friend of Parise’s, wasn’t interested.
Does the failure of landing top free agents say something about the Red Wings? Sure it does. As a lifelong follower of the franchise, I’ve often viewed Hockeytown as the place to be. Stars have finished their careers in Detroit, finding great success before hanging up their skates for good. However, Suter and Parise aren’t at the end of their sure-to-be spectacular tenures in the NHL — they’re entering their prime — and maybe Detroit just isn’t the destination these days.
Detroit may be one of the NHL’s historically-great franchises, but it’s been clear over the past four years that it’s regressing, not progressing. To see Parise and Suter sign with Minnesota doesn’t shock me. But, like many of you, I was convinced that at least one would sign. The whole “it’s Detroit, why wouldn’t they?” thought came into play. But as I said, Detroit isn’t what some Red Wings followers think it is. It’s a team with first-round exits. Its fans rely on the past as reason to believe the team will be successful in the future.
Parise and Suter would have been great additions to Detroit. But there are more free agents floating about, looking for a team and city to call home.
Follow Adam Biggers on Twitter @AdamBiggers81. Follow Detroit Sports 360 @DETSports360.