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A changing of the guard in the NHL? Add to ...

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)