NHL free agency: Wild land Parise, Suter

Reports from credible sources say both top free agents Zach Parise, a former North Dakota standout, and the top available forward, will be joined by the top available defenseman, former Badgers standout Ryan Suter of Nashville in St. Paul.

If so, this is a HUGE day for the Minnesota Wild franchise. You may want to buy your season tickets now, because they will sell quickly once this is confirmed. FYI, The Wild will need that ticket revenue to pay those two.

ESPN reported both deals are for 13 years and $98 million, which locks them up through the 2024-25 season and would carry a salary cap hit of $7.538 million per campaign.

Here is an updated version of the story from nhl.com. Here is some excellent detail from the Wild beat writer, who also suggests how both their significant others played a big role in coming to the Twin Cities.

Tuesday reading: Cecere, NHL free agency, Guentzel, Bjugstad, AFA

Future Tiger Garrett Cecere (2013 commit) is getting some attention from NHL scouts.

Seven former Tigers remain NHL/AHL free agents  (as of 10 a.m. MT) after Joey Crabb (Capitals), Curtis McElhinney (Columbus) and Toby Petersen (Dallas) signed on Sunday and Monday.

Jack Hillen joined Crabb on the Caps on Tuesday morning.

Here are some details about Crabb’s deal and the $200,000 pay raise from the Anchorage Daily News.

They are (name, 2011-12 team):

Richard Bachman (Dallas): Kris Fredheim (Wild); Trevor Frischmon, pictured, (Islanders); Richard Petiot (Tampa Bay); Brett Sterling (Blues), Colin Stuart (Buffalo), and Mike Testwuide (Flyers).

Colorado Springs’ Ben Holmstrom (Flyers) is also available.

Jake Guentzel, younger brother of former Tiger Gabe, is considering Colorado College. Nice kid. I met him during his visit while he was watching a practice last November. He is forgoing his senior year of high school to go to the USHL which means he could develop more quickly.

Former Badger Justin Schultz hates how Lebronesque his decision became.

Minnesota’s Nick Bjugstad will decide after the Panthers’ development camp if he will return to the Gophers.

UMass fans lick their wounds after being turned down by the Quinnipiac coach.

From  the academy …

The Air Force hockey team is proud to announce the five members of the Class of 2016, as announced Monday by head coach Frank Serratore. The class of 2016 includes two forwards and three defensemen.

26, Ben Carey, F, 5-11, 160, Centennial, CO / Wenatchee Wild (NAHL)

Played two years of junior hockey for the Wenatchee Wild of the NAHL … Led the Wild in scoring in 2011-12 with 57  points (27-30-57) in 60 games … led the team with 14 ppg and was second with a +16 … tied for 11th in the league in goals and 16th in points … third in the league in power-play goals … scored six points (2-4-6) in eight playoff games … in 2010-11, was fifth on the Wild with 43 points (19-24-43) in 57 games … fourth on the team in goals and fifth in points in 2010-11.

44, Max Edson, F, 5-8, 170, Hermosa Beach, CA / Waterloo Blackhawks (USHL)

Played two years of junior hockey for the Waterloo Blackhawks of the USHL … Played 33 games in 2011-12 at forward and scored 15 points (6-9-15) … In 2010-11, played 54 games at forward and scored 19 points (10-9-19).

8, Max Hartner, D, 6-0, 195, Greenwood Village, CO / Green Bay Gamblers (USHL)

Played three years of junior hockey for the Green Bay Gamblers of the USHL … Played in 38 games in 2011-12 on defense and scored 10 points (1-9-10) … Played in 44 games on defense in 2010-11 and had 12 points (6-6-12) in 44 games … team captain in 2011-12 and 2010-11 … helped lead the Gamblers to the USHL regular-season and playoff championships twice … In 2009-10, scored three points (1-2-3) in 24 games.

10, Jesse Ramsey, D, 5-11, 175, Rogers, MN / Kenai River Brown Bears (NAHL)

Played three years of junior hockey with the Kenai River Brown Bears of the NAHL .. the top scoring defenseman, and third overall on the team,  with 38 points (11-27-38) in 60 games in 2011-12  … ranked fifth in the league in points by a defenseman … 11 goals tied as the second most in the league by any blueliner … played 57 games at forward for the Brown Bears in 2010-11 and had 21 points (5-16-21) … began his junior career in 2009-10 with the Wenatchee Wild of the NAHL and played 16 games, scoring four points (3-1-4) … played the final 38 games of the 2009-10 season with the Brown Bears at forward and scored 19 points (3-16-19) in 38 games.

77, Trevor Waldoch, D, 6-2, 175, Forest Lake, MN / Austin Bruins (NAHL)

Played two years of junior hockey for the Austin Bruins of the NAHL … Played in 60 games on defense in 2011-12 and scored 27 points (9-18-27) in 60 to rank third on team among defenseman … Played 48 games in 2010-11 on defense and scored 25 points (5-20-25) in 48 games.

Wednesday reading: Weekly honors, UNO rink, J. Schwartz, WCHA women, AFA honor

Predators goalie Pekka Rinne (35) and defenseman Jack Hillen stop a Kings shot during the first period Monday. / Sanford Myers / The Tennessean

Two Gophers were honored by the WCHA this week.

UNO coach Dean Blais is trying to jump start the school’s effort to get its own 8,000-seat arena on campus. No doubt, such a move would be huge for the program, especially from a financial viewpoint (concessions, parking revenue, etc.).

Here’s a look at Wisconsin’s road playoff possibilities.

CC assistant Eric Rud was checking out the NAHL’s top prospects recently.

From stltoday.com: Blues GM Doug Armstrong believes Colorado College forward Jaden Schwartz is close to NHL-ready, and why not? He was captain of Team Canada at the World Junior Championships. He has scored 12 goals and added 24 assists in 26 college games this season.

Colorado College has won just one of its last six games. At 16-14-2 overall and 13-12-1 in the Western Collegiate Hockey Association, Schwartz’s team is on the outside of the NCAA’s 16-team national tourney bracket looking in.

Perhaps Colorado College can win the WCHA tourney and the automatic berth that goes with it. Or perhaps Jaden will have to decide whether to turn pro earlier than he expected.

Schwartz is a skilled player, but his character is what sets him apart. He appears to be a natural leader. “When you play, you want to make the players around you better,” he told the Colorado Springs Gazette earlier this season. “Whether teams are on you more or not, that’s something you’ve got to battle through. Every player has been through that at different levels.”

Pine Creek graduate Emily West’s play will be critical for the Minnesota women in the WCHA Frozen Faceoff (league semifinals and championship) this weekend in Duluth.

This sick little boy has been inspired by the Brown Bears and they have been motivated by him.

From AFA sports information:

Air Force sophomore Jason Torf was named the Atlantic Hockey Association Goalie of the Month for February as he helped lead Air Force to a 5-2-1 record and the AHA regular-season championship.

Torf, from Hermosa Beach, Calif., posted a 1.11 goals-against average and a .956 saves percentage in the month. He recorded four shutouts in eight starts as he blanked RIT (3-0 on Feb. 3), Niagara (2-0 on Feb. 10), Mercyhurst (8-0 on Feb. 17) and Robert Morris (3-0 on Feb. 25). Three of his four shutouts came against teams ranked in the top four in the league. Torf led AFA to the league title by stopping all 25 shots he faced in the final regular-season game at Robert Morris, Feb. 25. The night before, he made a season high 35 saves against the Colonials.

After missing almost three months and 14 games with a groin injury, Torf has come back to be among the national leaders in every goaltending category. In all games, he ranks third in the nation in goals-against average (1.65), seventh in shutouts (4) and eighth in saves percentage (.931)

The Atlantic Hockey monthly honor was his first of the season and second of his career. Air Force, 17-9-7 overall and 15-6-6 in the league, earned a bye in the first round of the playoffs. The Falcons will host an AHA quarterfinal series, March 9-11, at the Cadet Ice Arena.

In the pros: Packers fan Hillen settling into role in Nashville

After former Tiger Jack Hillen was a healthy scratch Tuesday at Colorado, I’m happy see there’s this NHL.com article about his unsung contributions to Nashville.

Updated Tuesday reading: Radio show, Hobey balloting, pros

Former Tiger Jack Hillen is expected to play tonight at Colorado. Take advantage of this chance to see him live.

The monthly Scott Owens radio show is tonight from 6:30 to 7:30 p.m. Tuesday at McCabe’s Tavern, downtown Colorado Springs. CC captain Nick Dineen and new NCHC commissioner Jim Scherr will be the guests.

Here’s the Gazette’s weekend wrap-up.

Fan balloting for the Hobey Baker Award is underway. Get to it people.

Former Tigers Richard Bachman won the ECHL alumnus award for December.  Joey Crabb garnered some measured praise from this fan blogger.

In the pros: Connelly, Hillen, Prosser

Nashville Predators' Jack Hillen, right, takes a shot against St. Louis Blues goalie Jaroslav Halak, of the Czech Republic, as the Blues' Jason Arnott (44) defends during the first period of an NHL hockey game Friday, Dec. 30, 2011, in St. Louis. - Sarah Conard /AP Photo

Former Tiger Brian Connelly recorded an assist in a loss for the AHL Rockford IceHogs (Blackhawks affiliate) and a goal in another setback.

He is only one point (28, 24 assists) behind Mark Barberio of Norfolk (29 points, 26 assists) for the league lead among defensemen.

Nate Prosser was in the middle of things for the Wild during a snippy 4-3 win over Edmonton.