The Minnesota Wild would be wise to ensure they see significant turnover from their roster, come free agency next summer.
Whilst it’s very early in the year to start thinking about making such moves, you look at the list of unrestricted free agents that’ll be facing Minnesota Wild General Manager, Paul Fenton and have to say he’d be smart to see most depart.
The biggest challenge will be to ensure at least a degree of return on those players, given all but two of the Minnesota Wild’s unrestricted free agents are thirty or above.
Those two under thirty are Landon Ferraro, who has had minimal impact at an NHL level and Ryan Murphy, who still has a shot at making it stick on the Minnesota Wild roster, given his relative youth at twenty-five.
If the Minnesota Wild are in a position of challenging for the playoffs at the trade deadline, you’d probably want to see them keep the majority of the pending free agents as in-house rentals essentially.
If not, they need to be bringing back as many draft picks and prospects as they can wrangle.
Headlining the list is Eric Staal, who is appears will struggle this year to match his big numbers of the previous season. However, he’s the perfect trade chip to dangle, as we’ve seen playoff bubble teams seek to add center depth at a small cost. Exactly what he is.
Long-term he’s not someone you’d want to re-sign for more than a maximum of two years’ term and at a team-friendly price or not at all.
Eric Fehr and Matt Hendricks are the next two names on the list and are guys that I’d prefer to phase out in lieu of someone like Kyle Rau or Justin Kloos, both of whom deserve a shot with the Minnesota Wild, rather than the Iowa team.
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In their position, they provide ample backup and depth to the team, as well as being young enough to continue contributing for a few more years.
The challenge will be to ensure they remain on cost-effective deals.
The team doesn’t need to over-pay for good backup goaltending, as is the case elsewhere in the league.
Their presence, too, gives Kaapo Kahkonen good role models as well as allowing him to develop, as opposed to being thrust straight into the spotlight.
Nate Prosser and Matt Bartkowski round out the list and both are players that you can likely claim a fifth or sixth round pick for; the sorts of depth guys useful on a play-off run but easily replaceable internally.
Guys like the aforementioned Ryan Murphy come to mind as ready-made replacements for them.
Whilst it is early in the year, these are still things the management team need to be considering.
It’s always good to have a multiple plans; Plan A sees the team make the playoffs and lose some of these guys for nothing.
Plan B sees the Minnesota Wild miss out but re-stock the team massively in terms of prospects.
Given I can’t quite see a Stanley Cup with the current roster make-up; either option suits me. It’ll sure as heck make the team better than it already is.