July 14 — Wild Tuesday & Injured Ironmen

WE CAN’T WAIT FOR: NHL Expansion Draft: July 21 — NHL Entry Draft: July 23 & 24 — NHL Free Agency: July 28

Days until start of 2021-22 NHL Season: 90 days

Monday’s Moon Shot

KEITH TO VICTORY?: Oilers GM Ken Holland made the first deal of what could be a busy pre-expansion-draft trade market, agreeing to trade defenseman Caleb Jones and a 2022 conditional third-round pick for defenseman Duncan Keith and forward Tim Söderlund.

THAT’S EXCITING: The NHL announced Monday that it plans to return to a full 82-game schedule — with fully vaccinated players exempt from the league’s pandemic restrictions — all while returning to its previous divisional alignment (sans the Coyotes, who will join the Central due to the Kraken).

Tuesday’s Toe Drags

MUCH RESPEKKT: Predators goalie Pekka Rinne announced his retirement yesterday, ending his career after 13 seasons in the Music City. Rinne is the team’s all-time leader in games (683), starts (667), wins (369), shutouts (60), goals-against average (2.43), and saves (17,627!!). Cheers to a great career, Pekka!

WILD STRATEGY: Minnesota GM Bill Guerin announced the team would buy out the remainder of both Zach Parise and Ryan Suter’s contracts, shocking the hockey world considering how heavily courted they once were. The 36-year-olds will officially become free agents on July 28, while the Wild will be on the hook for dead money against the cap through the 2028-29 season.

KNEEDS TIME TO HEAL: Lightning forward Victor Hedman will undergo knee surgery to repair a torn meniscus, which typically takes 3-4 weeks to recover from. In true hockey player fashion, he’s been playing with the injury since March 30. Here’s to a speedy recovery!

VERY DUCHARME-ING: Montreal has officially removed the “interim” moniker from Dominique Ducharme’s title, as he agreed to a three-year deal to become the team’s 31st head coach. Certainly no surprise, considering the Canadiens’ stellar playoff run. Congrats, coach!

QUENNEVILLE SUPPORTS REVIEW: Current Panthers coach Joel Quenneville has offered his support and assistance in the Chicago Blackhawks’ independent review of sexual assault allegations that have recently become public. The alleged assaults occurred in 2010, while Quenneville was Chicago’s head coach, though he has stated he “first learned of these allegations through the media earlier this summer.”

Trivia Tuesday

Do you know the World Hockey Association (WHA)?

  1. During the WHA’s first season there were 12 teams divided into two groups. Which one of these teams was included in the 12?
    • Dallas Tornados
    • Houston Aeros
    • Columbus Cougars
    • Boston Trailblazers
  2. The first WHA All-Star Game was held in which city?
    • Toronto
    • Minneapolis
    • Chicago
    • Quebec City
  3. How many current NHL franchises can be traced back to a WHA teams?
    • 5
    • 4
    • 3
    • 2

Answers can be found at the bottom of the email.

A Wild Ride for Suter and Parise

The fates of Zach Parise and Ryan Suter have been intertwined ever since signing matching 13-year, $98 million contracts with the Minnesota Wild back in the summer of 2012, so it’s somewhat fitting that their Minneapolis exits will also come alongside one another thanks to twin buyouts.

As the Wild get set to embark upon a new future — built around Kirill Kaprizov and the newly re-signed Joel Eriksson Ek — GM Bill Guerin determined that it was time to move on from the American-born veterans, clearing $10.33 million of cap space in the process.

There may be a temptation to chalk the buyouts of Parise and Suter up to the end of failed free-agent deals, but it isn’t that simple. Obviously, it wasn’t the hoped-for outcome from either the team or the players, but the nine years that the Wild got out of the two 36-year-olds weren’t for nothing. Minnesota native Parise scored 199 goals and 201 assists for an even 400 points with the Wild, including a 33-goal campaign, while Suter served as a workhorse defenseman — averaging more than 27 minutes of ice time per game with the club.

Ryan Suter, Minnesota Wild (Jess Starr/The Hockey Writers)

The Parise-Suter era elevated the team to a near-decade of sustained success. Minnesota missed the postseason four straight seasons prior to the pair’s arrival, but then made the playoffs in eight of nine seasons afterward — including a bubble appearance in 2019-20.

Yes, the 13 years they each got was an eye-popping term that has since been outlawed. And yes, both men may well be in decline, as evidenced by Parise being a healthy scratch multiple times this season. Let’s not forget, however, that Minnesota has never been much of a free agent hot spot — so the summer of 2012 represented a bold statement by the franchise for which an overpayment was simply the cost of doing business.

Wild fans can certainly not be blamed for being anxious to turn the page, getting out from some burdensome contracts, and basking in the glow of some Kaprizov excitement. But let’s provide some credit where it’s due, and recognize a pretty impressive tenure by two respected NHL vets.

Stanley Cup Final Injury Report

The Stanley Cup Final is an exciting and interesting time. As fans, we know players are banged up and playing through pain. But that does not stop us from screaming at our screens and questioning why some players are not at the top of their game in a series. It is not until the Stanley Cup is raised that the media and fans are made aware of the injuries that have plagued the players — as both teams fighting for the Cup this year were banged up for much of the postseason. 

Montreal Canadiens

Tampa Bay Lighting

Trivia Answer

  1. Huston Aeros
  2. Quebec City
  3. 4 Teams

Click here for more WHA trivia!