Zach Parise is going home.
Parise, the pre-eminent free agent on the market, signed what is believed to be a 13-year contract with the Minnesota Wild on Wednesday. He will join Ryan Suter, who also signed a 13-year deal with the Wild.
Financial terms for both deals were not readily available although ESPN’s Pierre LeBrun, citing a source, reported the Parise and Suter will each earn $98 million over the course of the deals.
“This is a great day in the history of the Minnesota Wild,” Wild general manager Chuck Fletcher said in a conference call that both Parise and Suter participated in. The Wild’s two newest stars will be formally introduced to the Minnesota media Monday in a press conference at Xcel Energy Center.
“We’re excited to add [Parise’s and Suter’s] skill, experience and character to our roster,” Fletcher said. “[This is] great for our franchise.” He added that “both played wanted to come back to Minnesota and play for the Wild.”
Parise, who will turn 28 later this month, had spent his entire seven-year career with the Devils. He recorded 194 goals and 410 points in 502 regular season games with the Devils. His best statistical season was 2008-09 when he set career highs in goals (45), assists (49) and points (94). Last year, he captained the Devils the Stanley Cup final.
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Parise, a native of Minneapolis, said that his decision came down to living and playing at home. Devils general manager Lou Lamoriello noted that New Jersey’s offer “was competitive” to the one Parise signed with the Wild.
“I told Lou I love playing in New Jersey,” Parise said. “It was very hard to leave. He was very supportive. He couldn’t be nicer about it.
“[It] came down to New Jersey and Minnesota,” Parise said. “Opportunity to play at home. [My] parents [are] very excited. [It’s] great to be here year round.”
Devils goalkeeper Martin Brodeur had sounded positive about the chances of Parise re-signing with the team earlier this week after he signed on for two more seasons.
“Zach is a priority [for] the Devils,” Brodeur said in a conference call announcing his re-signing. “He is a franchise player. [He] worked very hard; played very well for us. [I] want him to come back.
“I talked to him a lot [Sunday]; talked to him a lot this morning and will talk to him later,” Brodeur said. “The decision is so hard. [It] is a tough decision for him.”
Like Parise, Suter spent the entirety of his career with one team, the Nashville Predators. In seven seasons with Nashville, Suter compiled 38 goals and 238 points in 542 games and was plus-43.
Suter, a native of Madison, Wisc., said he called Predators general manager David Poile and defensive partner Shea Weber to break the news of his decision. He termed the call to Poile, “[the] toughest phone call I ever had to make.” Poile told reporters in Nashville that he was “disappointed and a little surprised.”
The acquisitions of Parise and Suter, along with the signings of Torrey Mitchell, Zenon Konopka and Jake Dowell, appear to strengthen a Wild team that finished 12th in the Western Conference last season and have not qualified for the playoffs since 2007-08.
But the Wild have an intriguing core, including Dany Heatley, Mikko Koivu, Devin Setoguchi and goaltender Niklas Backstrom, along with a highly regarded prospect pool, highlighted by Charlie Coyle.
While Parise wouldn’t predict a playoff berth for the Wild next year, Suter said that “Minnesota has a lot of good, young players” and that the two newest members of the organization “have a lot of pressure on ourselves.”
The Devils will host the Wild on Nov. 11 in the only 2012-13 regular season meeting between the two teams. The Wild will play in Nashville on Dec. 1 and March 9.
Other than acknowledging the Devils were in the mix, Parise did not disclose the franchises that had made offers to him. Suter noted that he met with Detroit Red Wings on Tuesday and “they were there to the end.” He also said Nashville fell out of the running “probably [Wednesday] morning.”
Follow NHL beat writer Denis Gorman on Twitter @DenisGorman.