Looking ahead to whenever free agency may be, is there anyone the Wild could acquire that would be worth it?
Free agency is a time widely known for giving out lucrative contracts with extensive-term and security in the form of a No Move Clause (NMC). Most of the time, it appears free agency is a gamble. For example, in no way is Mats Zuccarello a bad player, but I can guarantee it is a move that has caused regret within the Wild organization. Former Minnesota Wild GM Paul Fenton signed Mats Zuccarello, who was almost 32 years old at the time, during free agency. Not only did he give Zuccarello a lucrative contract but he gave Zuccarello term and a NMC. The NMC will almost certainly backfire and could cause the Wild to lose a young player in the upcoming Seattle Expansion Draft in the summer of 2021.
Is there anyone worth going after in this years’ free agency period?
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I think there are a couple of players that could potentially be solid acquisitions. For this article, I am going to assume the Wild trade Dumba or Brodin in the offseason for a first-line center the Wild desperately need. So, I am not going to include players like Mikael Granlund because he will most likely be looking for a contract that wouldn’t be the price of a second-line center or third-line center.
I think there are three potential candidates the Wild should at least consider. Now assuming we acquire a first-line center, these would be depth centers or potentially a second-line center. Now it is important to note that this could depend on whether Bill Guerin deems Alex Galchenyuk is worth a contract extension where he would be played at the center and not wing.
Vladislav Namestnikov (C)
Current Team: Colorado Avalanche
Current Contract: 3.25 Million AAV
Offensive Production 2019-2020: 17 Goals – 14 Assists – 31 Points (65 GP)
Although Namestnikov’s underlying numbers weren’t great by any means this season, I think he has the potential to be a great second or third-line center. He did have 22 goals and 48 points back in 2017-2018. He followed that up with 11 goals and 31 points in 2018-2019 which saw his ice time decrease almost 2 minutes.
Current Team: Dallas Stars
Current Contract: 2.3 Million AAV
Offensive Production 2019-2020: 6 Goals – 15 Assists – 21 Points (62 GP)
Janmark has had two consecutive seasons that saw his goals and point totals diminish. His underlying numbers aren’t great but Dallas doesn’t appear to be a good fit for Janmark. I think this is a player that needs to seek a change of scenery. Janmark had a career year points-wise back in 2017-2018 with 19 goals and 34 points. I think he is another player that could be a very good depth signing that has the potential to see his production rise to what he was once producing a couple of seasons ago.
Current Team: Florida Panthers
Current Contract: 2.75 Million AAV
Offensive Production: 12 Goals – 12 Assists – 24 Points (48 GP)
As much as it would be fun to see Haula return after Vegas selected him from the Wild in the Vegas Expansion Draft, his injury history, age, and not being a true center as he plays center and wing are all likely reasons why this doesn’t occur. His underlying numbers and production that saw him score 29 goals in Vegas put him into the mix.
Now there are a lot of factors that will contribute to why or why not the Wild need to explore free agency for a center. Do the Wild in fact trade Dumba and Brodin for a number one center? Is Alex Galchenyuk worthy of getting an extension and having a second line role? Is Joel Eriksson Ek good enough to be an impactful second-line center within the next couple of years? Is Nico Sturm NHL ready? How long until Alexander Khovanov and/or Adam Beckman is NHL ready?
If the Wild feels the need to explore the center position in free agency, these are my three acquisitions.
All stats are from NHL.com