The Minnesota Wild have recently been undergoing somewhat of a makeover, in terms of shipping out the remnants of Chuck Fletcher’s team and rebuilding in the vision of Paul Fenton.
It all begs the question as to who you think that Paul Fenton is building the team around. Obviously, there’s the burdensome contracts of Zach Parise and Ryan Suter that mean both are core pieces whether the he likes it or not.
It’s not necessarily a bad thing either; both Parise and Suter have shown this season that they can certainly still keep up in the NHL. Maybe not in terms of foot speed specifically, but in reading the play, they’re both still there.
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It’s the next few years of those contracts where they’ll likely become bigger and bigger liabilities, but we shall see – Jaromir Jagr and Zdeno Chara have both been able to perform at the NHL level that their age would suggest impossible.
Beyond the obvious contractual inclusions, you’d have to think that a new core group would contain Mikael Granlund and Jason Zucker as primary components, given their ability to match the speed of most teams. The NHL is a fast man’s game these days, after all.
Matt Dumba, when he eventually returns from injury, would be the other in the same sort of age bracket that you’d be marking as pretty much the only guy you’d consider rejecting trade proposals for.
Looking to the youth emerging in the line-up, the only one that impresses me enough to be deemed part of a core group of players is Luke Kunin. His performances this year have cemented his spot with the big club and realistically should cement his place as an asset not to be traded.
A guy like Joel Eriksson Ek, who once was seen as a player of great promise, still has failed to convince me and I’d say is expendable. Jordan Greenway is a bit of an enigma too; on his day, there’s no chance you’d consider dealing him but his first campaign in the league has been blighted by his rather hit and miss form.
I’d love to add him to this core group, along with new recruit Ryan Donato but for now, he’s fulfilling a role somewhat on the periphery of being considered irreplaceable, or at least very hard to replace.
Perhaps the scariest part in looking at the team is Devan Dubnyk‘s form and the notion that maybe he has passed his peak. Maybe we’ve seen his absolute best already; all Stanley Cup contending teams build a core around strong goaltending and that could be the missing piece at least until Kaapo Kahkonen is ready.
All in all, the future doesn’t exactly look that bright – the recent trades have seen two former core components traded for two players that haven’t yet convinced that they’re anything more than bit-part players.
Obviously, time will tell (Donato hasn’t even pulled on the jersey yet), but it’s certainly been a changing of the guard type year.