| Mark Parrish will join his 2006 United States Olympic teammate Brian Rolston with the Wild in 2006-07. |
After the Minnesota Wild acquired Pavol Demitra during last week’s National Hockey League Entry Draft, the highlight-reel portion of the team’s front lines was solidified. On day one of the free agency period, the Wild now has the “greasy” goal scoring and the grittiness portion locked up as well.
For the first time in the club’s history, the Wild made two cannon ball splashes in the free agency pool on its first day, signing Bloomington-native and six-time 20-goal scorer, Mark Parrish, as well as minute-munching defenseman, Keith Carney.
Both signed multi-year contracts with the Wild on Saturday.
"We are excited to add both players to our organization," said Wild President and General Manager Doug Risebrough. "Keith is a proven veteran that adds leadership to our defense, and Mark is a dynamic goal scorer."
While the signing of Brian Rolston in the summer of 2004 is arguably the biggest free agent signing the club has made, the Parrish and Carney signings are significant in showing the Wild’s commitment to moving forward with the next phase of development: key acquisitions.
In Parrish, the Wild gets a proven power forward that makes his living within a 10-foot radius of the goal cage. The 5-foot-11, 200-pound right wing scored 29 goals last year in 76 games with the New York Islanders and the Los Angeles Kings. The 29-year-old was one goal shy of his personal best of 30, established in 2001-2002 with the Islanders. He also has one 26-goal season, and three 24-goal seasons under his belt.
The Wild’s newest hometown kid was downright giddy when he realized he’d by playing in St. Paul over the next five years. He remained cautious about the signing despite rumors swirling over the last week that he would be home to stay.
"You hear the fans and the press make it a big deal, but you never know how much the team really means when it’s just hearsay. I didn’t want to get too excited because I didn’t want to get let down. When it looked today like it was going to happen...I’ve been so excited I haven’t eaten anything," he laughed. "My insides are going crazy!"
With Parrish joining the likes of Demitra, Marian Gaborik, Brian Rolston and Pierre-Marc Bouchard, the team’s power play unit is looking extremely formidable considering the former Bloomington Jefferson and St. Cloud State standout bagged 16 power play markers last season.
He admitted the acquisition of Demitra was a huge incentive to join the new-look Wild.
"It had an enormous amount (of a role in his signing)," he said. "It’s not only having a chance to play with Pavol (while both played for the Kings last year) and seeing what he can do, but also just knowing that the team is willing to jump up and grab a player like that and make the team that much better. It really sends the message to players and teams around the League that you mean business and you want to win."
He added, "We’ll be looking awfully good come September. That first time I step on the ice will give me a straight uppercut to the jaw."
In Carney, the club now boasts much-needed size and veteran leadership on the blueline corps. The 36-year-old is a 14-year NHL veteran who boasts a career plus/minus rating of +134. The 6-foot-1, 216-
| Former Canuck Keith Carney brings 877 games of NHL experience as well as a 6-foot-1, 216-pound frame to the Wild blueline next year. |
pound blueliner has also put up 200 career points on 40 goals and 160 assists in 877 NHL games.
With all due respect to Darby Hendrickson, Parrish becomes the most prominent NHL player out of Minnesota to don the Wild sweater. He won back-to-back state hockey championships with Jefferson in 1993 and 1994 before spending two seasons with St. Cloud State. He also represented the United States at the 2004 World Cup of Hockey, the 2001 and 2005 World Hockey Championships and the 1996 and 1997 World Junior Hockey Championships.
The Wild will be Carney’s sixth NHL team. The Providence, RI-native made his debut in 1991-92. He appeared in 61 games with the Anaheim Ducks last season before being sent to Vancouver at the trade deadline. He finished the year with two goals and 18 points.
Carney’s tenacity, which he displayed in back-to-back games against the Wild at the end of March. He brings the physical play that the Wild sorely missed following the departure of Willie Mitchell at the trade deadline.
The arrival of Carney gives the Wild six locks for the defensive position assuming Brent Burns is once again on the blueline as he was at the conclusion of last season. Nick Schultz, Martin Skoula, Kurtis Foster and Petteri Nummelin also figure to be clearing the net in front of goaltender Manny Fernandez.
Former Wild defenseman Andrei Zyuzin signed with the Calgary Flames on Sunday, while Filip Kuba and Daniel Tjarnqvist are unrestricted free agents. Restricted free agent Alex Henry was not qualified prior to the free agency period, although the Wild would be free to sign him if the club chose to. According to reports, the Wild is also close to signing Philadelphia Flyers defenseman, Kim Johnsson.