We may see some fireworks before the fourth of July in the Twin Cities!
As many Canadians start their Canada day celebrations, hockey fans celebrate the most anticipated day of the NHL off-season, day 1 of Free Agent Frenzy. In Minnesota, the excitement is palpable as the Minnesota Wild has just over 17 million in cap space. Granted that’s with notable forwards Joel Eriksson-Ek, Ryan Donato, and Kevin Fiala to sign as well as defenders Louis Belpedio and Carson Soucy they may choose to give contracts.
In total I would imagine 5 million or so of that 17 million will go to re-signings so the Wild have 12 million to play with, and here are all the rumors so far that have been circling around the team.
Mats Zuccarello and Ryan Hartman Signings all but Confirmed
Michael Russo has all but confirmed that the Minnesota Wild have come to terms with both Mats Zuccarello and Ryan Hartman:
Meaning 8 of 12 million of the potential free money is potentially spoken for.
Zuccarello will be 32 when training camp starts for the Wild, and while he is exiting his prime, he is
More from Gone Puck Wild
- Defenseman Matt Dumba signs one-year contract with Arizona
- Minnesota Wild reach agreement with Brandon Duhaime on one-year contract
- Minnesota Wild receive mixed grades for picks in NHL Entry Draft
- Minnesota Wild draft heavy on centers and home-state selections
- Minnesota Wild open regular season at home against Stanley Cup Finalist
showing no sign of slowing down. While he struggled during the regular season on a depleted New York Rangers squad, he thrived in big D. After recovering from an injury sustained in his second regular season game with Dallas, he was huge in the playoffs. Scoring 11 points in 13 games, whenever Dallas needed offense Zuccarello was there to jump-start the Stars, helping them reach the second round, losing eventually to champion St. Louis in the second round.
Hartman is a bit of a project player. Drafted in the first round, Hartman has never lived up to where he was drafted, and was subsequently traded from the Blackhawks (the team he was drafted to) to the Predators. In his one full season with the Predators Hartman scored 10 goals and ten assists for 20 points in 64 games before being traded to Philadelphia. In Philly he scored 6 points in 19 games and at the end of the season was once again traded to Dallas who chose not to qualify him, making him a UFA.
So can he play? Yes, but not in a top 6. Being a first round pick comes with the connotation that you are expected to produce at a top 6 level. With the past couple of seasons showing evidence of his skill level the expectation has to be that Hartman is a solid 30-35 point third line winger. If he is played in a proper role, Hartman can help a team succeed.
Well this is pure speculation on my part but the Zuccarello deal raises my eyebrow. Zuccarello shoots left along with every other forward not named Eric Fehr, J.T Brown, Pontus Aberg (unlikely to be re-signed), and Luke Kunin.
It’s very suspect and suggests to me that a current Wild forward could be moved for a right shot forward. For example Jason Zucker could be moved in a package for William Nylander. Alternatively the Wild could trade a winger for another position and sign a right shot. Such as swapping Greenway for a center and signing Wayne Simmonds.
At any rate there will be more moves from the Wild. I would imagine and hope for big waves. Considering the Wild have carved themselves a potential window to maximize talent on the roster, using ELC’s and cheap bridge deals in the top 6 (Donato, Fiala, Greenway) to give space to add expensive veterans.
If the space can be used properly I could see a quick turn around for the Wild and a return to the playoffs in 2020.