Nine years after Zach Parise and Ryan Suter signed twin contracts together worth nearly $200 million with the Minnesota Wild, they are being bought out together in a stunning turn of events early in the NHL offseason.

General Manager Bill Guerin made the announcement Tuesday that the team is buying out the final four years of each player’s contract, which were originally structured to last 13 years. It is a sudden end for a tenure that began with such promise when the two American stars signed identical $98 million contracts on July 4, 2012.

Perhaps it was only fitting they were a package deal on the way out like they were on the way in. Parise and Suter will enter free agency at the same time July 28.

“It seemed like the right thing to do,” Guerin told reporters. “I felt this was the cleanest way. This way gives them more of an opportunity to go out and do what they can do.”

Parise and Suter were signed through 2025 at matching salary cap hits of $7.538 million each year. The buyouts save over $10 million next season but extend dead money on the cap through 2029. They will combine to cost the Wild almost $15 million against the salary cap in 2023-24 and 2024-25 for Parise and Suter not to play for them.

“Those years will be tough, but we’re going to have to do a very good job of drafting players and a very good job of developing players and injecting some younger, cheaper players into our lineup,” said Guerin, who took over in 2019 when longtime GM Chuck Fletcher was fired. “This is a great opportunity for some of those guys.”

Owner Craig Leipold, who spearheaded the master plan to add two upper Midwest products in the same free agent year in 2012, called Parise and Suter, “tremendous ambassadors for our team” who helped win a lot of games.

Minnesota made the playoffs eight times in nine seasons since signing Parise and Suter but never got past the second round. That includes a first-round exit this season.

That defeat, plus the Seattle expansion draft next week and emergence of younger players paved the way for the buyouts. Minnesota can now protect defenseman Matt Dumba and one other player from the Kraken instead of trading them.

“There wasn’t one big reason,” Guerin said. “It was pretty much everything together as a whole: a tough decision to make but one that I feel that we need to make.”

Suter and Parise are each 36. Parise turns 37 in late July. They will likely attract interest around the league in free agency, though for much shorter terms than last time.

“I know they both have game left, and they’re going to help another team,” Guerin said.

The speculation has already begun about Parise being a perfect fit for the New York Islanders with GM Lou Lamoriello, who drafted him with New Jersey. And Boston would easily be able to slide Suter into Torey Krug’s old spot on the left side of the blue line.

No team would need to commit 13 years, either. The collective bargaining agreement reached months after Suter and Parise signed in Minnesota limited contract lengths to seven years for free agents and eight for players re-upping with their current team.

Suter in his prime with Nashville and Minnesota averaged more than more than half a point a game as one of hockey’s best offensive defensemen. His production dipped to 19 points during the just completed 56-game season, though he still skated more than 22 minutes a night.

Parise, who was coming off a 69-point season in 2011-12 when he captained New Jersey to the Stanley Cup final, was a healthy scratch at times this past season when he put up 18 points in 45 games. He played in four games during Minnesota’s seven-game loss to Vegas.

CANADIENS: Dominique Ducharme has been hired as coach after leading the club on a playoff run all the way to the Stanley Cup final.

The Canadiens announced Ducharme has agreed to a three-year contract extension through the 2023-24 season.

The 48-year-old was promoted to the role of interim head coach on Feb. 24 after the struggling Canadiens fired former coach Claude Julien.

While the Habs were the lowest-ranked team to qualify for the playoffs, they got on a roll in the postseason.

Montreal came from 3-1 down to beat the favored Toronto Maple Leafs in the first round, then swept Winnipeg in the North Division final.

They then knocked off the Vegas Golden Knights in six games in the semifinal before losing in five to defending champion Tampa Bay in the Cup final.

Ducharme joined the Canadiens’ coaching staff on April 27, 2018. The Quebec native spent 10 seasons coaching in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League.

LIGHTNING: Tampa Bay General Manager Julien BriseBois confirmed that star forward Nikita Kucherov played in the Stanley Cup final with a non-displaced rib fracture.

Kucherov was hurt on a cross-check during Game 6 of the conference final against the New York Islanders.

“He played with a flak jacket from that point on, and also had a nerve block injection the day before every game,” BriseBois said. “It makes his performance during these playoffs both before the injury and post broken rib all the more impressive.”

After missing all of the regular season following right hip surgery, Kucherov led the NHL in playoff points with 32 points (eight goals, 24 assists).

PREDATORS: Goaltender Pekka Rinne, the 2018 Vezina Trophy winner, is retiring after 15 seasons.

“For more than 15 years, I’ve been on an incredible, life-changing journey with the Nashville Predators that has taken me to more places than I could have ever imagined and given me more than I could ever hope to give back,” Rinne, 38, said in a statement. “This decision wasn’t easy, but I know this is the right one at the right time.

He made his last start on May 10 in Nashville’s regular-season finale, a 5-0 win over Carolina in which he tied Tom Barrasso for No. 19 in NHL history with his 369th victory. That also was his 60th career shutout, third among active goalies behind Marc-Andre Fleury (66) and Henrik Lundqvist (65).

His career goals-against average of 2.43 is tied for fourth-best among goalies with at least 350 wins in NHL history behind only Dominik Hasek, Martin Brodeur and Jacques Plante. He also is one of 12 goalies in NHL history with at least 350 wins and 60 shutouts.

A four-time Vezina finalist and twice runner-up, Rinne went 369-213-75 in his career after being the No. 258th pick overall in the eighth round of the 2004 NHL entry draft. The native of Kempele, Finland, also has the most games played, victories and shutouts by a Finnish goalie in NHL history.

SHARKS: The San Jose Sharks signed goaltender Josef Korenar to a one-year contract.

The 23-year-old Korenar played in 10 games for the Sharks last season, coming in as a reserve on April 10 for his NHL debut against the Kings.

San Jose struggled to get consistent goalie play, finishing in the bottom three in save percentage for a third straight season. Martin Jones had a save percentage of .896 as he has been unable to get back to the level of play he reached during his first three seasons in San Jose. He was pulled early eight times in 34 starts.


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