Twelve years ago when the Minnesota Wild entered the league an expansion franchise, you never would have seen the organization sign players to contracts like the $98-million deals Zach Parise and Ryan Suter got on Wednesday.
In fact, the Wild's entire payroll was just under $12-million in their inaugural season – the lowest in the NHL and roughly $300,000 less than Parise and Suter will both receive in each of the first two years of their new deals.
With plenty of the off-season still to play out, the Wild are now the second highest spending team in the NHL, joining the Boston Bruins, Calgary Flames, Vancouver Canucks and San Jose Sharks in a top five that looks very different than the one on top prior to the 2004-05 lockout.
Now it's the former spending powers in the Detroit Red Wings, New York Rangers and Toronto Maple Leafs that have a bit of catching up to do, as they all sit at least $10-million behind Minnesota after GM Chuck Fletcher's big spending spree.
So while the Wild's payroll has increased 2.5 times since the 2003-04 season, those three big spenders have seen theirs drop from an average of $72-million to $55-million this summer (a 24-per-cent drop) in large part due to the salary cap.
Here's a closer look at how the spending has changed for six key teams over the past decade.
Team spending (in millions of U.S. dollars)
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