On Monday former Minnesota Wild general manager Chuck Fletcher was officially named the new general manager of the Philadelphia Flyers. While the organization is excited to have his fresh outsiders perspective to help get them to the next level, some criticisms of his previous job have come to light.
Narrator: They have not.
When the pair signed back in 2012, the NHL’s salary cap was $70.2 million for that lockout-shortened season of 2012-13. So when you account both their AAVs of $7.53M, both players combined to take up 21.4 percent of the Wild’s cap space.
But as time has gone on the salary cap has gone up, which has made their impact on the Wild’s cap less significant. And with the rising cap, we have seen player salaries rise to where Parise and Suter are now just the 29th and 30th highest AAVs in the NHL this season, while the cap currently sits at $79.5 million.
More to the point, the production from Parise and Suter during that time has been among the best in the league.
First look at Suter, who has performed like one of the true number one defensemen in the league since his arrival in Minnesota.
That chart does not factor in minutes, which Suter no doubt leads, considering he has lead TOI per game just about every season since signing with the Wild. He has also remained healthy up until March of last season – when he suffered a broken ankle — but has missed next to no time besides that injury.
While you may have some criticisms of his offense — power play comes to mind — Suter has been a rock for the Wild defensively, and you can’t make an argument against that.
Then you have Parise, who has been injured over the past few seasons with the Wild but has continued to produce when healthy in the lineup.
As you can see, he has been scoring goals on a per game basis with some of the best in hockey since his arrival in Minnesota. And while injuries the past few seasons have slowed him down, he has been very healthy and very good this season as his production mirrors that of 10 seasons ago with New Jersey.
A healthy Parise has been a very vital piece for the Minnesota Wild in seven seasons.
Let’s also not forget that the arrival of Parise and Suter have put Minnesota in the playoffs for six straight seasons, a streak that is second best in the National Hockey League behind Pittsburgh’s 12 seasons. Before their arrival, the Wild had made the postseason just three times in 11 seasons.
Their arrival has put Minnesota in a competitive position to make the playoffs year after year and have a crack at that illustrious Stanley Cup run. You can’t understate the fact that their arrival has raised the bar for expectations of the on-ice product.
Then what, or who, is the problem if not Parise and Suter?
How about the fact Chuck Fletcher handed out second-round draft picks. The Wild have had just one second-round draft selection from 2014 on, and that player – Jordan Greenway – is currently on the Wild roster.
Or how about the fact Minnesota has passed on higher upside players in the draft (*cough* Brock Boeser) with their first round selections since the Matt Dumba pick in favor of safer selections of players who might just project to be career third/fourth liners.
Minnesota has not drafted and developed a goal scorer since Marian Gaborik, and drafting the safer player over a player with a high risk/high reward type profile was a huge criticism during the Fletcher-Era Wild.
Or let us not forget that Fletcher loved to hand out long-term contracts to fourth line players. Torrey Mitchell, Darroll Powe, Matt Cooke and most recently Marcus Foligno. Maybe don’t inject deals over two years to fringe players at best. When they struggle, you are stuck with them, and they take up valuable cap space.
Fletcher had many faults in his time with the Wild, but the signings of Parise and Suter were not one of them. It has been the subsequent moves that doomed him and the Wild. Focus on those moves, not the guys that were paid big bucks to produce and actually are.
Take your false narrative about the Parise and Suter and kindly fire it into the sun.
Or just save it for five years down the road when they still have three years left on their contracts.