The July 1st start date for NHL free agency is nearly a month away and the Minnesota Wild seem poised to make another big splash in the talent pool. This year’s class of unrestricted free agents is both talented and deep, giving the Wild many options on who to pursue. With some less than desirable contracts coming off the books, Minnesota has the money available to resign necessary pieces and add assets to the team.
As of right now, none of the Wild’s players that will be free agents after July 1st have been resigned. This leaves the team with roughly $22 million to work with in renegotiations and free agency.
Assuming the Minnesota Wild resign Nino Niederreiter, Jason Zucker and the other restricted free agents to come back next year, it will have roughly $13 million to work with when that is said and done.
Adding in new contracts for the likely returnees of Clayton Stoner and possibly Cody McCormick, The Minnesota Wild are looking at about $10 million to work with come free agency. This is a ton of room for the Wild to make the moves to improve.
The biggest issue the Wild is going to face in the next year or two is paying emerging stars that were brought up in their system like Charlie Coyle and Mikael Granlund. Whatever free agents the Wild pursues, it has to be certain there will be enough money to bring them and others back into the fold when their rookie contracts expire.
All of the experts seem to think the Wild are a shoe-in to sign Thomas Vanek this season. His estimated $7 million contract will severely limit what the team can do in free agency this year and next year, making it a huge gamble if the team does follow through with it. Add in the fact that Vanek has hardly performed to the level that the Montreal Canadiens fans expected and it’s questionable whether the Wild should really pursue him.
Vanek is a pure goal scorer. That cannot be disputed. If he is brought in, he’ll contribute significantly to a team lacking in scoring. But does the Minnesota Wild really want to give a monster contract to him when it could handcuff the team in the future? After all, there are other options that are cheaper and could contribute.
Another option is Mike Cammalleri. He certainly wouldn’t bring in the same hype as Thomas Vanek, but he is a 5-time 20-goal scorer in his career. The only knock on Cammalleri is whether he can stay healthy for the entirety of the season.
I don’t see the Wild signing a big name free agent defenseman this offseason. There will already be 8 or 9 guys competing for 6 regular spots on the blue line, and most of them are young and have shown they are capable. As great as a guy like Matt Niskanen would be on defense for the Wild, he would cost $4 million and is probably going to be resigned by the Penguins after his playoff performance.
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