The Minnesota Wild are headed into their first offseason since making the Stanley Cup Playoffs for the first time in five years with one of the most expensive contract charts in the league. That said, there is the touchy business of choosing to sign or release free agents.
If you’ve been reading Gone Puck Wild the past few weeks, you likely read our series covering Minnesota’s UFAs. Now it’s time to take a look at the RFAs. This year, forwards Cody Almond, Joel Broda, Cal Clutterbuck, Justin Fontaine, Mikko Lehtonen, David McIntyre, Carson McMillan and Jarod Palmer, defensemen Tyler Cuma, Steven Kampfer, Bjorn Krupp, Kyle Medvec, Marco Scandella and Jared Spurgeon and goaltender Dennis Endras are all RFAs.
Minnesota’s only RFA goalie is German keeper Dennis Endras. Signed as an undrafted free agent by the Wild, Endras has never been a serious contender for the Minnesota net…until now. If Niklas Backstrom goes unsigned by Minnesota, Endras could be an inexpensive option to consider. Not an overly large netminder, his 6′ 176-pound frame hasn’t seemed to hamper is style of play.
According to Elite Prospects:
A quick goalie. A smallish keeper with an unusual style. Has great reflexes and covers angles well. Mentally strong, stays calm under pressure. Very skilled one on one, which makes him excellent in shootouts.
Then how do you explain this?
Oh, that’s right–it’s Mikael Granlund. Nevermind.
Endras’ coming out party was likely the 2009-10 Men’s World Hockey Championships, where he was named All-Star, Best Goals Against Average, Best Goaltender, Best Save Percentage and Tournament MVP. He is also coming off a season with Adler Mannheim that saw him post a 2.34 goals against average and .926 save percentage in 41 games, good enough to be named the DEL’s Goalie of the Year.
Prediction: I have to think he’s given a serious look should Minnesota fail to come to terms with Niklas Backstrom. The only question is whether or not he wants to play for the Wild. Endras did play six games with Houston in 2011-12, notching a 3-2-1 record with a 2.46 goals against average and .913 save percentage. Unfortunately, with a healthy Josh Harding and the emergence of Matt Hackett in Minnesota and Darcy Kuemper in Houston, he was soon loaned to the SM-Liiga’s HIFK. He may feel burned, so signing him could be an issue. However, if it can be done, Minnesota should seriously consider it.
That wraps up this series on the Minnesota Wild’s Restricted Free Agents.