With its core pieces locked up for several years, the Minnesota Wild is now faced with decisions on who to bring back to compliment them next season. The difference between a good team, which the Wild are right now, and a Stanley Cup-caliber squad is the ability to build around the best players and get contributions from more than just the stars. The Wild are faced with a few expiring contracts of players that don’t fit the mold and should be let go or traded.
Let’s start by getting the obvious out of the way. Heatley robbed the Minnesota Wild of $7.5 million this season and must have been giggling all the way to the bank. The 33-year-old has declined in nearly every facet of the game and will be lucky if he has a job come next season. Next.
I’m pegging Brodziak as the Minnesota Wild’s compliance buyout this summer. He completely lost the support of fans this season and would make just under $3 million next year. That money could be spent elsewhere and the Wild could find a more suitable replacement to play fourth line center.
Just to note for people that think Niklas Backstrom should be bought out, he was shut down for the season and hasn’t been cleared by medical staff. This means that he is ineligible to be bought out as long as he is injured. It’s similar to the reason Dany Heatley wasn’t bought out last summer.
The veteran enforcer saw very little ice time this season and was a healthy scratch in favor of younger players many nights. I believe there is still a place for Rupp in this league because of his leadership and he has won a Cup with the New Jersey Devils, but it isn’t with the Minnesota Wild.
Bryzgalov came in shortly before the trade deadline and actually put up decent numbers. In my opinion, his success can be attributed to the play of the defense. For people thinking he is a long-term option at goalie, think again.
“The Universh” will not be back next season as the Wild already has three goalies that, when healthy, are better than Bryzgalov. I’ll take my chances with Harding, Kuemper and Backstrom to get the job done rather than resign Bryzgalov.
This one is my bold prediction. I believe Jason Zucker will be playing in a different uniform come next season. The 22-year-old speedster is exciting when he gets a chance to play with the big club, but he is very erratic. Zucker is limited in his ability to play only a top-6 forward role and is a liability on defense. As a restricted free agent, he will likely be resigned, but I believe he will be traded before next season.
Moulson was acquired just before the trade deadline with Cody McCormick from the Buffalo Sabres. He didn’t play terrible, but much more was expected in his short tenure with the Wild, especially in the playoffs. He is likely in line for a raise from whichever team signs him and the Wild are unlikely to fork over what he is looking for.
The Minnesota Wild will need all the money it can get for Thomas Vanek and when it comes time to pay the likes of Mikael Granlund and Charlie Coyle after next year. Instead of paying Moulson, the Wild should save that money for those guys.
This is a more difficult decision than it looks. He can be a great sixth or seventh defenseman for the Wild. Unfortunately, he would be a victim of numbers if he remained with the Minnesota Wild. Suter, Spurgeon, Scandella, Brodin, Stoner, Ballard, Folin, and Dumba will all be given ahead of Nate Prosser next year and he’ll be lost in the system.
Most people are probably asking themselves who this is right now. He makes $700,000 to play in the AHL. That is all you need to know.
Here is the link to my “who should stay” article from a few days ago.
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