Blockbuster: Minnesota wins Zach Parise and Ryan Suter sweepstakes — for $196 million

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The Minnesota Wild have officially won free agency.

That’s the big news on this July 4 holiday as the Wild announced they’ve landed both of this year’s prize UFAs — former Nashville Predators defenseman Ryan Suter and former New Jersey Devils captain Zach Parise.

The deals cost Minnesota a fortune. ESPN’s Pierre LeBrun reports the pair got matching 13-year, $98 million contracts, meaning both will have an average annual cap hit of $7.54 million.

And yes, the Wild just dropped $196 million dollars.

This will go down as one of, if not the, biggest days in franchise history. The Wild instantly become a Western Conference contender and may have shifted the landscape in terms of free agent philosophy — in a market where heavy hitters like Chicago, Detroit and Pittsburgh were all angling for Suter and Parise’s services, a team that’s missed the playoffs four straight years (and never been considered a big spender) reeled in the two biggest fish.

Notes

— Turns out Lou Nanne was right all along.

According to Josh Cooper of The Tennessean, Nashville’s offer to retain Suter was 13 years, $90 million.

TSN’s Darren Dreger says Wild players are “ecstatic” about the signings. Dany Heatley has reportedly been in contact with both Parise and Suter. “Both asked: can we win,” Dreger tweeted.  “Answer: yes.”

— Based on annual cap hit, Parise and Suter are now the NHL’s seventh and eighth highest-paid players. Only Alex Ovechkin, Evgeni Malkin, Sidney Crosby, Eric Staal, Rich Nash and Vincent Lecavalier average more per year.

— Next season, the Wild will have $35.2 million (roughly half of the $70.2 salary cap) committed to five players — Parise, Suter, Heatley, Mikko Koivu and Niklas Backstrom.