Top two taking their time

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Zach Parise and Ryan Suter, the two most-coveted NHL free agents in the class of 2012, will end up signing contracts running anywhere from 10 to 13 years.

Who'd have guessed that it would take both nearly that long to decide where to play?

Parise appears to be the one the Penguins have the best chance of landing, and one of his agents said Tuesday evening that he "probably" will make up his mind by today.

Previously, though, there had been indications that Parise would decide whether to return to New Jersey or join another team Sunday. Then Monday. Then Tuesday.

Such precedents suggest there's no guarantee it will happen today.

Parise flew from Toronto to his native Minnesota Tuesday and made it clear to the Minneapolis Star-Tribune when he arrived that he did not want to rush to judgment on something that figures to be a life-shaping issue.

"There's a lot of things to factor into it, and I think that's why we're taking our time with the decision," he said. "It's not something we can just make at 1 o'clock on July 1.

"It takes time to make sure you consider everything and you're doing the right thing."

Parise planned to discuss his options with his fiancee, Alisha, and family members Tuesday.

"It's a decision my fiancée and I will make together, and that plays a lot into it," he said. "We just want to go somewhere that we know we're going to be happy."

In addition to the Penguins, Minnesota, Philadelphia, Chicago and the Devils are in contention for his services.

Suter, meanwhile, met with contingents from the Detroit Red Wings and Wild at his farm in Madison, Wis., Tuesday.

The Penguins did not send a group to speak with him, and there's no indication they will, but their plans are uncertain because general manager Ray Shero did not speak with reporters.

The Detroit Free Press reported that the Red Wings, who also have been vying for Parise, have offered Suter a 13-year package worth $90 million, up $10 million from their initial proposal.

Detroit, looking to replace Nicklas Lidstrom as the cornerstone of its defense, has ample salary-cap space with which to work and has long been viewed as one of the favorites to land Suter, although the Suter camp never has identified a front-runner.

The Flyers, Wild and Nashville are among the Penguins' competitors for Suter, who they envision working with Kris Letang on the No. 1 defense pairing.

Although Parise and Suter both will be choosing between offers that could set up their families financially for generations to come, Parise stressed that dollars aren't the only factor that will influence his decision.

"There's so much more than the money," he told the Star-Tribune. "That plays a very small factor in it. My agents did a great job. You take the time to consider everything.

"You consider where you want to be for the next however long and however many years of your life. It's a harder decision than I thought it was going to be."


Dave Molinari: or Twitter @MolinariPG.


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