Welcome back to the third iteration of who the Minnesota Wild should sign this offseason! I’ll be diving into the three players who broke into the top ten the Wild should target over the summer. If you have missed any part or need a reminder on the process/who have already been listed, check out the intro, part one, and/or part two.
Before I begin detailing who the Minnesota Wild should pursue in the coming weeks, there is some news to cover on trades and extensions in the NHL.
First, the New York Islanders resigned Brock Nelson to a 6-year/$36,000,000 contract with a $2,000,000 signing bonus and Jordan Eberle to a 5-year/$27,500,000 contract. The belief is that the Islanders now look to resign captain Anders Lee, but there is some dispute about contract length. Lee’s camp is wanting somewhere along the 7-year mark, whereas Team President Lou Lamoriello would be more comfortable with 4. This has been a point of contention since contract conversations started at the beginning of the season, which could open up the road for the Edina, Minnesota native to return to the State of Hockey. Initially, the belief was that the Islanders would be willing to depart with either Nelson or Eberle to retain Lee, but Lamoriello has managed to sign team friendly contracts and could retain all 3. Lamoriello still has to address Robin Lehner. If they believe Thomas Greiss can take over the role and let Lehner walk to save money, they could still potentially come to terms, but I believe the Isles will let Lee walk as they have been trying to rework the contract since the beginning of the season.
Second, the Wild acquired Fedor Gordeev from the Toronto Maple Leafs for a 7th round draft pick in 2020. Drafted in the 5th round two years ago, Toronto Maple Leafs never signed him to his Entry Level Contract, and with their cap situation currently, elected to avoid any extra burden by allowing the Wild to take Fedor off their hands. Ryan Boonstra scouts Fedor Gordeev here. I believe this move points to the departures of either one of or both of Brad Hunt and Anthony Bitetto. The Wild are fairly deep at the defensive position, with the likes of Louie Belpedio, Carson Soucy, and Nick Seeler all vying for that 6th defensive spot and could put Fedor in the AHL or a different minor league affiliate to develop his skills. But this is the real reason why I mention the trade:
Third, the Philadelphia Flyers traded a 5th round pick in the upcoming draft to Winnipeg for pending free agent Kevin Hayes and promptly signed him to a 7-year/$50,000,000 contract. Now that Brock Nelson is locked in for the Islanders and Kevin Hayes is a Broad Street Bully, the only high-caliber centers available are Joe Pavelski and Matt Duchene.
Jacob Trouba was traded to the Rangers for Neal Pionk and the 1st round pick the Jets gave the Rangers for Kevin Hayes. How easy is the Rangers first round by the way? Just take whoever New Jersey doesn’t between Jack Hughes and Kaapo Kakko. Rangers have made some impressive moves recently to accelerate their rebuild process, and frankly, I could see them making the postseason. The Winnipeg Jets have been moving in the wrong direction. In a world that the Toronto Maple Leafs don’t exist (which is hard to imagine, but bear with me), the Winnipeg Jets would be the talk of the league, in terms of “Cap-Hell”. They have to address Brandon Tanev, Patrick Laine, Kyle Connor, newly acquired Neal Pionk, Tyler Myers, Ben Chiarot, Joe Morrow, and Nathan Beaulieu just to start. Laine will eat a lot of Winnipeg’s available cap space, despite a lackluster year. It’s unlikely that they’ll retain Myers or Tanev and GM Kevin Cheveldayoff is probably looking to change things after a disappointing year, one year removed from a Western Conference Final run.
Erik Karlsson got huge money, 8-years/$92,000,000. Might affect the asking price for an extension to Jared Spurgeon as they are both extremely proficient skating defenseman. He is one of the priorities for GM Paul Fenton this season.
Mitch Marner is still wanting $11 Million per year. He’s an elite player and is definitely worth a lot of money. I’m unsure if the Leafs can meet that ask, but a team that could meet that number would also have to forfeit their first round picks for the next four years. I love watching Marner and Matthews on the same team and the bromance that has been born in Toronto, but if a team does extend an offer sheet to Mitch Marner, Kyle Dubas should seriously consider letting him walk and allow another team to stock the cupboard with inexpensive youth for the Leafs to plug in with Matthews and Tavares. Also, Leafs. Trade Kadri. Yeah, he’s pretty good. He also has removed himself from the entire playoff series’ in back to back years in the second game. It’s not a stretch to say he cost his team each series. Every team needs a player that has some nasty, but the Leafs have been burned by Kadri’s actions one too many times. I absolutely believe that if Kadri doesn’t commit that hit and get suspended, the Leafs make the Stanley Cup Final. They received another incredibly tough draw for a first-round matchup (which is why the playoff format needs to be changed to something more akin to what the NBA does, Bruins and Leafs should not have to play each other in the first round as the 2nd and 5th best team in the Conference), and the Leafs clearly need to bolster defense. If they allow Marner to walk and/or move Kadri, they create space for an immediate replacement and have the draft picks to have a long term replacement.
Patrick Marleau, a conditional 1st round pick in 2020, and a 7th round 2020 pick were shipped out to Carolina for a 2020 6th round pick. It is expected that the Hurricanes will buy out his contract.
Finally, P.K. Subban was traded to New Jersey for Steve Santini (who?), Jeremy Davies (WHO?), 2019 2nd round pick, and a 2020 2nd round pick. This was a great move for both teams. New Jersey had about $35 Million available before the move and now are sitting at $26M to spend the rest of the summer. Adding Subban, Jack Hughes, and not giving up Miles Wood and Kyle Palmieri in the Subban trade is huge. They can add additional pieces that convince Taylor Hall to stay and can become a force of nature in the East.
Enough news updates on what’s happening around the league. Let’s dive into some free agent analysis.