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Eric Staal recruited to Wild by Zach Parise

Free agent's decision to sign three-year contract with Minnesota helped by pitch from left wing

NHL.com @NHL

Four summers ago, Eric Staal tried to convince Zach Parise to become his teammate. This summer, Parise convinced Staal to become his.

Staal signed a three-year contract with the Minnesota Wild as a free agent on July 1, helped to the decision by a pitch from Parise.

"It was kind of an honest conversation," Staal told the Wild website on Wednesday. "... He thought [there was] an opportunity there for me to play center and to play with some good players, he being one of them.

"We feel like our games could match up. I felt like that four years ago when he joined the Wild here when I was [with the Carolina Hurricanes]. I tried to get a hold of him to see if he wanted to come down and play there. He obviously signed here, and it was kind of shoe on the other foot for him reaching out to me, which was nice for me as a player. And I still feel the same; I still feel like our games, if we do end up playing together, we can match up well."

Video: Eric Staal on conversation with Parise - 7/6/16

Staal, 31, went looking for a new opportunity after a disappointing season with the Carolina Hurricanes and New York Rangers. He had 39 points in 83 games, his fewest since his rookie season in Carolina (2003-04).

"It's an opportunity for me hopefully to hit the refresh button, and just go out there and enjoy playing the game," he said. "… For me, the first time going through the free agent process, it was more or less about looking for the opportunity to play an important role on a good team. Minnesota is a good team, and I felt like there were some spots I could fit to help make a difference."

Staal said it helps that the Wild hired Bruce Boudreau as their coach this offseason.

"Bruce is new here as well," Staal said. "So that was another positive for me coming here, is that it's new for everybody, all the players, and all the guys here. So it's a new coach and it's about grabbing [an] opportunity and taking advantage. Wherever he puts me in the lineup I'm going to try and do the best I can to help the team win games."

Staal was selected by the Hurricanes with the No. 2 pick in the 2003 NHL Draft and played every game of his NHL career with Carolina before being traded to New York on Feb. 29.

Video: Eric Staal meets the Minnesota media

"It was time," Staal said. "It was one of those times where the opportunity to possibly change at the [NHL Trade Deadline] was something that I needed to do personally, and it didn't work out the way I envisioned it would when I did leave, for a lot of different reasons."

His $10.5 million contract has an average annual value of $3.5 million. Staal is likely to move back to center after playing left wing for New York, where he had six points in 20 regular-season games and none in five Stanley Cup Playoff games.

"A lot of things just went wrong," Boudreau said after Staal signed. "I don't think he liked playing left wing. I think he's the kind of the guy that wants the puck in the middle and wants to handle it and play with it. He wants to be the guy."

Staal had at least 70 points in seven of his first eight NHL seasons, including 100 in 2005-06, when Carolina won the Stanley Cup.

"Every day in this league you have to try to prove yourself," Staal told the Pioneer Press. "If you don't, you'll be interchanged pretty quickly. For me, yeah, it's definitely motivation to try to bring myself back up to the player I hope and know I can be. I'm looking forward to that opportunity and chance to be a difference-maker with this group."

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