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archerystud

Wild Offseason

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archerystud

Time to get it started...

I'd like to see the Wild get a little bigger in the off-season. For instance I like both Spurgeon and Brodin but I'd like to see one of them moved to make the overall blue line a little bigger.

-------------Forwards

Returning - Parise, Koivu, Pominville, Cooke, Coyle, Granlund, Haula, Veilleux, Brodziak(??)

Other -

Niederreiter (RFA) - NUMBER ONE PRIORITY RESIGN, was a beast down the stretch and found nitch as a true power forward.

Zucker (RFA) - Seems to be the odd man out here but probably part of a trade.

Fontaine (RFA) - Resign him if the price is right.

Moulson (UFA) - Started good and disappeared, I didn't see enough for the price he will demand

McCormick (UFA) - I'm up in the air here. Like his size and could be a 4th line wing/penalty killer but may have cheaper options coming back.

Brodziak - Buyout candidate. Might still be on team due to lack of centers.

Brassart, Bussieres, I know a couple guys signed tryout contracts but I don't know anything about them.

-------------- Defensemen

Returning - Suter, Scandella, Spurgeon, Brodin, Folin, Dumba

Spurgeon - He's small but I'd keep him. Would like to see him paired with a bigger dman. Tradable asset.

Brodin - I'd trade him to get bigger. VERY tradable asset.

Folin - Will be on the first or second line D pair next year!!!

Stoner (UFA) - Resign him if the price is decent. Was great in the playoffs.

Ballard - Buyout candidate. I'll admit he was decent in limited playoff action.

Prosser (UFA) - I haven't been impressed.

Blum (RFA) - I'm up in the air on him.

Minors guys.....

Cuma (RFA) - Shows flashes, injury risk

Dumba - Probably in the bigs next year, tradable

Olofsson - Probably a year in Iowa.

-------------- Goalies

Harding - If he can go I'd like him back but I could also see him retiring because of the MS. He was practicing April 2 and still wasn't on the bench over Curry in mid-May which concerns me. Because of this I'm thinking he will retire in the off season but that's just my gut.

Backstrom - Probably the #2. Doubt he's tradable with his salary. Can't buyout because of injury.

Bryz (UFA) - Serviceable but I'd like to see them sign someone else. I thought he was lucky down the stretch in the regular season and shaky against the Ave's. Did play better against the Blackhawks IMO but looked behind himself far too much. The other players would never admit it but I don't think the team had the confidence in him to steal a game.

Kuemper (RFA) - Probably resigns based on the above. Showed flashes and I'm not willing to give up on him yet.

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Priorities -

1. Have to figure out the goal tending situation, plain and simple.

2. Vanek, I'm less convinced he comes here because of #1 above and the Wild need to consider the future bunch of contract this year and next year that come into play.

3. I wouldn't be surprised if the Wild do some type of "bigger" trade. Maybe it's a package deal like Koivu/Brodin for something else which would free up money for Vanek. I'm not as down on Koivu as some people but I agree he should make about 1.5M less for as often as he scores.

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CaptainMusky

Guys I would like see traded or not back...koivu, prosser, backstrom, heatley.

Another thing is the coaching situation. I want Yeo back. I feel he did a great job down the stretch.

I need to ponder the vanek thing a little more.

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archerystud

I would be HIGHLY surprised if Yeo isn't back.

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CaptainMusky

Me too!

I have watched a few of the Montreal games and I havent been too impressed with Vanek's play. Speculation is that he is injured, but who isnt at this point of the season.

He still finds a way to score and made some great passes to set up plays that didnt result in goals as well.

I had high hopes for Moulson, but I just didnt see much out of him.

I would like to see Zucker moved somehow. I think he has a little value.

Was it just me or did Koivu look slow last night?

I think this team needs to focus on getting younger and moving Koivu would be a good move. I know what he has meant to this team for so long, but his days have passed him by.

Excited to see what Folin can do. Prosser should be gone. Scandella is solid back there. Add some beef to Brodin (who I think had a great game last night, best of the playoffs IMO). He needs to be stronger on the puck.

We need Coyle, Nino to be back. Those guys were huge for us this year and I think they arent even close to their potential yet.

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archerystud

CM,

Agree with everything.

I thought Brodin had his best game as well. However, I think he's highly tradable and the Wild is deep in D-men. I think they can use him to package something up and improve at goalie or forward.

Biggest issue was in goal. Varlamov/Crawford stole some games but the Wild won as a team. I wouldn't overspend for big name goalie but a more solid option needs to be found (whether through trade, free-agent or the minors).

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CaptainMusky

Agreed and the Wild are in a tough spot because both Harding and Backstrom have 1 way contracts and you would expect Kuemper would also get one so that would be 3 goalies with one-way contracts. Not desirable.

I hate to see it happen because I really like the guy, but I kind of hope that Harding retires. Then the Wild can sign Kuemper, trade Backstrom is anyone would take him and seek out a more veteran goalie. I wouldnt be completely opposed to bringing back Bryz, BUT Kuemper worries me a bit with his injury issues too. Its the biggest question mark on the team right now.

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BartmanMN

Haula's performance pretty much made Zucker trade bait in my opinion. Option towards another goalie.

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CaptainMusky

My only concern with Zucker trade bait right now is I believe he is injured. Not sure what options we may have there and I am sure it will pull down his stock a bit.

Either way, the cupboard is certainly not bare with this team. They need to keep the key components and add a few others. They have so many pieces in place right now that its really exciting to see what the potential may be next year.

That is the year I have been looking forward to, but this playoff push was certainly fun!

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RK

Going to be a very, very interesting offseason for this club.

Starting from the goal out:

Good Lord what do you do if you're Chuck Fletcher here?

Backstrom has two years left on his deal, and has a partial no trade/no move clause. He could come back healthy and play great, but his recent injury history makes that questionable. Harding has a year left, and when he can play he's capable of being one of the best in the league. Easy to forget now how stellar he was in the first half. But he's missed significant time with his MS... Kuemper is the future, is a RFA coming off his entry level deal, and played well enough to earn a one-way deal...but you can't have three goalies on one-way contracts either. Buying out Backstrom using the compliance (no cap hit) buyout isn't an option - he signed after the lockout. If you bought him out anyhow, he'd count $1.2M+ against the cap through the 2018 season, which is a big hit.

All in all, Fletcher's going to earn his money figuring that one out, and it's vital to do so. Getting the goalie carousel spinning below 5,000 RPM has to be a top priority this offseason.

On the blueline...a lot to like here.

Suter... Be interesting to see how hurt he really was in the Chicago series, because he was clearly playing with one arm more or less.

Brodin - No way on God's Green Earth they even think about trading him, nor should they. He had a minor sophomore slump, and a lot of young defensemen go through ups and downs, but he's 20 years old and playing first pair minutes. Very very few d-men around the league can do that at his age. He's barely even begun to see his full potential. Players like him don't come along very often. He'll be the core of that blue line for a long, long time.

Spurgeon and Scandella were both very good. I thought there were some nights where Scandella was the best d-man for the Wild against Chicago. I think they'll both be around for a while. Spurgeon really is a wonder. Undersized but sure doesn't play like it. Just so smart positionally and can skate out of trouble so well...plus he has some offensive upside, which is something the Wild still lack on the back end.

Stoner is an interesting one. Loved him in the playoffs - he's the one big body back there, and he isn't flashy, but he is effective. I thought he got better as the season went on and had a very good postseason. Hope they bring him back.

Prosser is a tough one. Liked him at times but he is what he is - a 7th d-man. Hopefully he can catch on with another organization because I doubt he's back, especially with Folin and Dumba waiting to move up.

Same with Ballard - good veteran, but man did the injury bug gnaw on him this year.

I know all the talk about free agency has been around Vanek, but I really wonder if the Wild wouldn't be better off getting another good D-man, like a Niskanen from Dallas, who is a UFA this year.

Right now our top 6 forwards are a mix of veterans in their prime (Koivu, Parise, Pomminville) and young guys (Granlund, Coyle, Nino), and we have some more youth waiting in the wings in the minors. They have to play somewhere, and they can't all be in the 3rd and 4th lines. Do we really want to add another expensive, long term contract to a forward in his 30s like a Vanek, when we have several young guys who are going to be coming off their entry level deals and due for a raise in the next couple years? I dunno...

Up front, Heately is obviously a goner. Unless he was really really playing hurt in the playoffs, I can't see a lot of interest in bringing Moulson back. I could see Brodziak being trade bait, especially with Haula showing he can play 3rd line center, kill penalties, be good defensively - all the stuff Brodziak does - but with way more upside, and he can move up to the top 6 if he has to, which is a stretch with Brodziak. I think they try to keep McCormick - he was solid on the 4th line, good on the PK, and he can play either wing or center, which is an asset when you're moving guys in and out of the 4th line as callups from Des Moines.

Koivu was pretty obviously still slowed down from his ankle injury. He just had no burst around the corner at all. I think Pomminville was playing hurt too. The rest of the forwards...what a development year for guys like Granlund, Nino and Coyle. Just the tip of the iceberg with those guys...

And the coaches? Good Lord they better extend Yeo... Easy to forget that at mid-season or so the Wild were 11th in the West. They came back and made the playoffs despite missing Parise and Koivu for long stretches, and even more amazing, despite dressing 7 different goalies and playing 5 of them. He got players buying in and believing in the system and the process, and a lot of young players made huge strides under him. He developed too - I think him coaching in this year's playoffs was night and day over last year. More than deserving of an extension, IMHO.

Going to be an interesting offseason for sure. Lots to feel good about but some very large question marks too. Be curious to see where Fletcher goes with it all.

Go Ducks...(or Kings. Whoever. Just someone beat the Hawks please?)

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RK

I didn't even mention Zucker. I still don't see the fascination some Wild fans have with him. Yeah he's fast, but he's got a LOT of developing to do on the other side of the puck. In a system like the Wild plays forwards have a lot of defensive responsibility, and he has yet to show he can handle it IMHO. And even on offense, he really seems to have tunnel vision, which is a killer in the NHL. He's not a 3rd/4th line type player, and in our top 6 now, who does he replace? Unless they really need a left W on the second line, he could be trade bait at the draft...

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Guest

IMO Koivu and his "too-high" salary need to go any way possible to free up some $ to sign a goalie. Harding is a tough one, maybe they could offer him a retirement package (if that is OK by the NHLPA) and give him a staff position, if not they may need to look at buying out Backstrom contract. Goalie is the number 1 need IMO, followed by someone who can PUT THE PUCK IN THE NET!

I also would not mind a coaching change just to see if a new strategy with this talented group might put them over the top...if Yeo stays I'll be OK with it though. So happy Heatley played his last game in a Wild jersey.

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PierBridge

Good stuff guys I like some of the creativty that Arch and Musky are proposing...but... I'd say RK has it nailed and that will be the basic approach of the Wild.

Ill add our Power Play has to improve and is the main reason we didnt advance.

Im not big on waisting the money on Vanek but it sure would help the PP if they go that route.

Im still peed off...

eek

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CaptainMusky

BB I dont necessarily disagree with your take on a coaching change, but who is out there that would be any good? I certainly dont want that goonball from Vancouver.

I think the team certainly came a long way throughout this season and Yeo has grown tremendously through this playoffs.

I assimilate him with our young guns that exploded this post season. I think next year will be a very exciting one for sure, but there is some work to do. Some of it will not be very fun or likely very popular.

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Guest

BB I dont necessarily disagree with your take on a coaching change, but who is out there that would be any good? I certainly dont want that goonball from Vancouver.

I think the team certainly came a long way throughout this season and Yeo has grown tremendously through this playoffs.

I assimilate him with our young guns that exploded this post season. I think next year will be a very exciting one for sure, but there is some work to do. Some of it will not be very fun or likely very popular.

I don't think that goofball will coach again in the NHL, my first choice recently got hired, that being Laviolette....other possibilities are Ron Wilson, John Stevens, Adam Oates, maybe even Kevin Dineen. I just think it is apparent we could have made a stronger run with the talent we have and maybe a change in "game strategy" might have allowed us to go further, but no doubt goaltending is everything in our current system and we fell a little short there.

A Vanek signing would give us the Scorer we need and would make any coaches job easier along with the group we have.

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LundProAngler

Hey RK, you could be the coach!

Like your comments on all the players!

Your comments are always spot on. True Wild Fan!

I really agree with your last statement, someone has got to beat the Hawks smile

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Bear55

Sign Vanek! - We've had scoring issues all year. Him with improvement from the kids might be enough to push the team up the scoring chart in a significant way.

Sign a D? - Pass, we have an underrated D group and play solid team D. Not to mention a lot of solid D prospects coming up.

Goalie - I don't have a clue. We seem to both have too many and a major shortage of goalies going into next season.

Yoe - Yep he's fine, just needs help on the power play.

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solbes

Certainly improvements to the forwards and blue line can be made, but they have to address the goalie situation. This team would have advanced to the conference finals with a top 5 type goalie IMO (and maybe beyond). Without one, I think it will always be a dump shoot to win 3 consecutive series to get to the big dance. Even if they improve the forwards and blue line.

Harding if he was healthy showed he had the potential to be that guy. Now that seems unlikely and there are hard choices ahead. Backstroms contract really mucks things up and I'd be fine moving on without him (though impossible to do). Keumper is young and inconsistent, easily injured, and I kinda doubt he will be that guy.

How it's dealt with I have no idea. Trade for a hot prospect with a little experience and get out your crystal ball.

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archerystud

I think everyone agrees the goalie situation is the biggest problem. It's a long shot but if Harding/Backs return to old form it's a non-issue. Tough to be sure. Thanks for clarifying on the buyout, I know just enough of the rules to be dangerous.

BB - not arguing with you about Koivu but I don't think anyone is going bonkers over him with his salary unless the pot is sweetened with something like a first round pick.

The fascination with Zucker is speed! You can't coach speed! You can coach playing defense. Anyone remember Benoit Pouliot being the defensive liability for the Wild? He was a +10 for the Rangers this year and is doing well in the playoffs. And yes I agree the player does need to be coachable.

As far as D-men go the Wild need to make room for Dumba/Folin.

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RK

News out today that Coyle played the last few games with TWO separated shoulders.

Holy moly... that's some grit.

Expect we'll get a pretty steady stream of injury reports the next few days...

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Guest

News out today that Coyle played the last few games with TWO separated shoulders.

Holy moly... that's some grit.

Expect we'll get a pretty steady stream of injury reports the next few days...

WOW!!! Quite the soldier and going to have a great career....along with a few others, Haula, Brodin, Granlund, Nino, etc, etc.

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CaptainMusky

Rosen said that there are "5 or 6 players that will be getting surgery in the coming days". Not sure how much truth there is in that, but that is what he said.

There were so many injuries its crazy, but everyone is playing "hurt" this time of year... Prosser had several broken fingers (he was out), Moulson I believe took a puck to the foot (he was out), Suter got tangled up with Hossa messed up his shoulder and played through, Coyle, didnt see where it happened, but thats crazy, something was up with Pominville I think too.

I shudder to think what they would have been like had they made it past this series.

Still an impressive year.

Here is a nice page to reference the team's contract status by year for each player:

http://wild.nhl.com/club/page.htm?id=64613

stoner, fontaine, niedereiter all need to be retained IMO. Though admittedly I dont know much about some of those AHL guys.

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yakfisher

A healthy, consistent goalie, enough said. An offensive D man and a forward that can camp and score from the dirty areas of the ice, those are players we need. Whether we develop those things internally or get UFA's I don't know for sure. Parise, Pommer, Granlund, Coyle, Nino, Haula, Cooke, Fontaine, McCormick keep em. Koivu he proved he is one of the best second line centers in the league, as we all thought, keep him unless we can get someone cheaper for him. Vanek, where does he fit in, does he play better because he is at home, or is there youth we can develop in his place? Fourth line center? Brodz needs to go and we all know Heater is gone. Just need to find a guy that can play suck hole like Tchuk or Hull used to (lost art in my opinion). That would help on the offense.

On the D side, Suter, Brodin, Stoner, Spurgeon and Scandella for sure. A healthy Ballard for a year is okay, hurt, not so much. We still need an offensive D man to really bring the blue line together.

What I find most amazing is what we did this season without spending a decade at the bottom of the league. Most of the top teams right now had several years with top ten draft picks over the last ten years, Edmonton being the exception. We are in a god place as long as we retain a coach that emphasizes team play. And continues to motivate players to bring their best most nights.

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archerystud

On the D side, Suter, Brodin, Stoner, Spurgeon and Scandella for sure. A healthy Ballard for a year is okay, hurt, not so much. We still need an offensive D man to really bring the blue line together.

Add in Folin and probably Dumba for next year to that mix. Both should be good puck moving D-men.

I still think the Wild need to get bigger especially on D (Folin is 6-3 and 215 so that will help). Big forwards kill the Wild in front of their own net as we can't clear them out. Bryan Bickell had 6 goals in 9 games against the Wild this season, overall he has 17 in 71 games. The other reason that Stoner should be a higher priority for the Wild.

Listened to Russo yesterday on KFAN. He also thinks the Wild's status on Vanek may have changed with the emergence of the younger players. That and the fact that they may not want another Heatley type contract on the team right now. He felt a lot of what they will do probably depends on the goalie situation. He thought Keumper would be resigned. He also mentioned there are 2 types of buyouts and that one of them may be applied to Backs but that he has to be "cleared to play" in a 3-5 month window.

A big off season for sure!!!

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Bear55

I think if you can nab Vanek at a reasonable price/term you do it, if he wants north of 7 for 7 years you pass. Even if we do sign him and some of the kids turn into studs with big contracts that is a good problem to have. I'd rather deal with too many good players/cap issues than be short on talent.

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CANOPY SAM

Well, there will of course be disagreements about who "should" have won, or who was "obviously" the better team, but in the end, if we can't get the puck in our opponent's net after many, many attempts, and our opponent scores one more goal then we do, then unfortunately, we have been outplayed.

That's the game. That's hockey. Both teams played their hearts out in this series, but we ended up losing on home ice. That says a lot about the strength of our opponent.

It was a great season. The Wild played great hockey. No reason to hang our heads after a season like this one.

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