Welcome to the first mailbag of the 2021 season, featuring your questions on the Minnesota Wild early into the season!
We asked for your questions, and wow did you all deliver.
First of all, thanks for all your questions, Tom! You are the first person to be inducted into the Gone Puck Wild Mailbag Hall of Fame, congratulations!
Minnesota Wild GM Bill Guerin knew what he was doing when he signed Jonas Brodin to the seven-year, $42 million contract extension. The Wild could have received some serious assets if they traded Brodin and would also have more money to spend in other areas such as extensions for Fiala and Kaprizov. I highlighted it in a piece regarding Brodin and Spurgeon, but Brodin is way too valuable to move. The Wild made the right decision in extending Brodin long-term, he is one of the best defensive defensemen in the NHL and provides immense value.
The other thing to think about is the future. We don’t know what to expect from Suter in the next couple of years. His defense has already begun to decline and there’s no guarantee he can compete at this level for the rest of his contract. While the Brodin extension and now the Foligno extension makes it a little tricky for the upcoming contract extensions for Fiala and Kaprizov, it was necessary.
I believe in the case of Brodin, his value outweighs the cons.
The Wild have handed out a lot of bad contracts and Zuccarello’s is not at the very top of the list in my opinion. Hear me out, the length and the dollar amount are too much, but Zuccarello is still a low-end top-six forward right now.
I don’t think Zuccarello’s is at the top of the worst contracts handed out by the organization for this reason. However, it was a bad move by Fenton to acquire Zuccarello via free-agency because of the no-move-clause given out and the fact that the Wild have youngsters that need ice time.
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In my opinion, the reason why Zuccarello’s contract gets so much criticism is because of the state of the Wild right now and not the contract itself. Most Wild fans don’t want to see Zuccarello in the top-six because of all the young players like Fiala, Kaprizov, Eriksson Ek, and Greenway.
I think it comes down to the fact that the Wild really didn’t need Zuccarello with all of our young players. If it wasn’t for the Zuccarello signing, the Wild would still have Ryan Donato in the lineup too.
So, in a sense, the contract itself isn’t the worst given out by the organization, but the timing and lack of need for Zuccarello make it such an unnecessary move.
I think it is clear from last night that Evason will play the youngsters a ton. Kaprizov led all Wild forwards in ice time last night with Fiala very close behind.
Prior to the season, I would have said that Bjugstad centers the first-line for awhile. Now just two games in, it looks like Dean Evason is going to roll the hot hand at the time, like putting Victor Rask on the first line to start game two.
This depends on how you think of it. This season is a transition year for the Wild which means the worst-case scenario for the Wild is that they miss the playoffs and get a good draft pick. However, I really don’t think that happens. It is concerning that the Wild still don’t have a true number one center. Hopefully, they use some assets and acquire one via trade because the free-agent market for centers next offseason doesn’t look good unless you’re offer sheeting Elias Pettersson
I will be writing an article on Dubois soon! I do think the Wild should try and acquire Dubois, at the right price though. He’s a first-line center and the Wild happen to need one. The question is whether Dubois would want to come and what the price would be to get him. If I am the Minnesota Wild, I am not giving up the assets to obtain Dubois if he doesn’t want to sign long-term, especially since he just signed a two-year bridge deal too.
All of the analytics models (Evolving-Hockey, Hockey-Viz, Dom L of the Athletic, etc.) have the Wild making the playoffs, so I would say yes. The Wild got better this offseason and that’s not even taking into account Kaprizov, so I would be very shocked if the Wild didn’t make it. The Wild got lucky by being placed in the West too, one of the weaker divisions. Granted it was that, or the Central, which also isn’t terribly strong at first glance.