Parise, Suter choose Wild over Flyers; Carle signs with Lightning

Posted: July 05, 2012

The Flyers made huge offers, but in the end, those offers fell on deaf ears.

Left winger Zach Parise and defenseman Ryan Suter, the prizes in this year's NHL free-agent pool, signed Wednesday with the Minnesota Wild, a team that hasn't made the playoffs in the last four seasons.

Parise, a Minnesota native, and Suter each received 13-year deals for $98 million. That's an annual cap hit of $7.54 million each, which is the seventh highest in the NHL.

The Flyers are believed to have offered each player a 12-year contract in the $100 million neighborhood.

"We're disappointed, but at the same time we're happy with the players on our roster," said Peter Luukko, president of the Flyers' parent company, Comcast-Spectacor. "We're happy with our combination of young players and veterans - and if the young players are going to get better, they need playing time."

Parise, 27, who helped lead New Jersey to the Stanley Cup Finals this season, said "the idea of coming home and being around family had a big impact on me."

He added that if he hadn't chosen Minnesota, he would have remained in New Jersey.

Suter, 27, an all-star with the Predators last season, said notifying Nashville general manager David Poile was the "toughest phone call I've ever had to make."

The Flyers were not one of his three finalists, said Suter, who lives in Wisconsin. His wife is from Bloomington, Minn.

At 11 a.m. Wednesday, the Flyers had not heard from the Suter or Parise camps. That seemed like a negative sign.

On Twitter, some Flyers fans remained upbeat, saying it would be fitting for the duo to make the announcement that they were coming to America's birthplace - Philadelphia - on the Fourth of July.

Ah, dream on.

Suter and Parise are close friends from their days with the U.S. hockey program. They conferred with each other during the free-agency process, fueling speculation that they would be a package deal.

The speculation turned into reality.

They will try to help the Wild win their first playoff series since 2003.

Later in the day, a source said the Flyers would sign 6-foot-1, 200-pound defenseman Bruno Gervais, an unrestricted free agent who had six goals in 50 games with Tampa Bay last season.

Gervais, 27, a Quebec native whom Flyers forward Max Talbot calls his best friend, was going to sign either late Wednesday or on Thursday, the source said.

A former New York Islander who has spent seven seasons in the NHL, Gervais is a righthanded shooter who averaged 14 minutes, 16 seconds per game last season for the Lightning.

The Flyers still had been in contact with the agent for defenseman Matt Carle, but the free agent signed with Tampa Bay on Wednesday night. He got a six-year deal with an annual cap hit of $5.5 million, a figure the Flyers did not want to match. Tampa Bay had traded Carle to the Flyers in 2008.

Free-agent winger Shane Doan interests the Flyers, but he is expected to stay in Phoenix if the franchise doesn't move. He said he will decide whether to test the market on July 9. By that time, it should be known whether the Coyotes are remaining in Phoenix.

The Flyers, who have gotten smaller with the departures of Jaromir Jagr (free agency) and James van Riemsdyk (traded), have been in trade talks for Anaheim's Bobby Ryan ($5.1 million cap hit for the next three years) and Columbus' Rick Nash ($7.8 million cap hit for the next six years). One of those high-scoring forwards would give them some much-needed size on the wings.

But the Flyers are reluctant to part with up-and-coming center Sean Couturier, and that might be a deal-breaker.


Contact Sam Carchidi at scarchidi@phillynews.com, or @BroadStBull on Twitter.

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