Ryan Suter's decision is in. This year's top free-agent defenseman has decided to sign a 13-year deal with the Minnesota Wild, according to the Star Tribune's Michael Russo. Just a couple days ago this would have been considered a highly unlikely conclusion to "Suter Watch," but a lot has changed in the last 24 hours, and now the Detroit Red Wings need to look elsewhere to bolster their defense.
With Suter picking the Wild, it's likely that the top free-agent forward, Zach Parise, will do the same. On Tuesday night, Parise admitted that he was talking with Suter about free agency, and speculation suggests that the two players have eyes on becoming teammates. Now that Suter has chosen to play in Minnesota, it would be an upset if Parise doesn't follow suit.
For the Red Wings, this decision is going to sting for a while. Red Wings fans have had eyes on Suter for the better part of the last year, and the need for Detroit to sign him only increased this offseason with Nicklas Lidstrom retiring and Brad Stuart departing for San Jose. The Red Wings certainly gave it their best effort by offering Suter a deal worth a reported $90 million over 13 years, but it wasn't enough to convince him to wear the winged wheel.
What's next for the Red Wings? According to Helene St. James, they will turn their attention to Matt Carle and Carlo Colaiacovo in an attempt to improve their defense. They will also likely explore trades, as there is nobody on the open market that even comes close to the talent of Suter. Detroit may need to get creative in order to make their defense better given the current state of the free agent market.
UPDATE: Parise has in fact agreed to a deal with the Wild.