ST. PAUL -- Ryan Suter’s phone rang on July 13. Though he saw it was Minnesota Wild general manager Bill Guerin on the other end, Suter had no idea what to expect.
As everyone knows by now, Guerin was calling to inform the veteran defenseman that the Wild were buying out the remaining four years of his high-priced contract. They also were buying out veteran forward Zach Parise’s identical contract. Which meant both players were set to become free agents for the first time since famously signing 13-year, $98 million contracts with the Wild on July 4, 2012.
“I hadn’t talked to anybody, so I had no idea what was going on,” Suter said Thursday. “I got a call at 10 o’clock, and he told me the news. I was in shock. I didn’t know what to say. You’re feeling pretty low at that point.”
Frankly, the always-reliable, 36-year-old was blindsided by the news.
While the writing might have been on the wall for Parise after things got messy for him toward the end of last season, Suter felt like he played pretty well. He was ready to return to the Wild next season and slide in alongside captain Jared Spurgeon on the top defensive pairing.
“I know I have a lot more to give,” said Suter, who had immediate interest from teams across the league. “As it got further along, I started thinking about how this was a great opportunity for me. I got to go pick a team that has a chance to win a Stanley Cup.”
That’s why Suter decided to sign with the Dallas Stars. He inked a 4-year, $14.6 million on Wednesday because he feels like they provide him with the best chance to win. Sixteen years into his NHL career, he still hasn’t won a Stanley Cup.
“That was a big thing,” he said. “When I was 27 years old, I was young and thought I was going to get so many chances to win. All that different stuff. I went to Minnesota thinking, ‘OK, let’s go here. We can build a team that can compete to win.’ That didn’t happen.
“There was so much pressure on this decision for me personally because I wanted to make sure I picked the right situation to give me the best chance of winning the Stanley Cup,” Suter added. “I’ve been very fortunate with the contracts I’ve signed and the different places I’ve been and the different experiences I’ve had. To win a Stanley Cup would mean the world to me. That’s what I’m going to Dallas to do.”
As for his time with the Wild, even though things didn’t work out in the end, Suter has no regrets. He and his wife Becky had three of their four children in Minnesota and made many good friendships along the way.
“It was everything that we wanted, and that’s why we signed there,” Suter said. “It was a great time. Everything happens for a reason, though, and we’re really excited about this opportunity.”
After signing a couple of defensemen Wednesday, the Wild filled out the rest of their blue line on Thursday, picking up Jon Merrill with a 1-year, $850,000 contract. He plays on the ride side, which fills a hole for the Wild heading into next season.