As the Stanley Cup Finals get underway for the Los Angeles Kings and New York Rangers, the Minnesota Wild will soon go through evaluation meetings to determine who should be brought back next season. As expected, Mike Yeo had his contract extended after
signing a 3-year extension worth an estimated $3 million. Now that the team has its leader, it’s time to look at some of the needs the Minnesota Wild have going into next season.
The clearest need going into next season will be on the fourth line. With the departure of Dany Heatley and others, the Wild will have about $13 million to work with in free agency. Minnesota should take part of that money to sign one or two tenacious fourth line forwards that excel as forecheckers. Have them flanking Cody McCormick at center and you have a fourth line that will have an impact every night.
The Minnesota Wild should also make a move on one more top-six forward to add another offensive element in order to increase goal scoring. The name that has been thrown around since 2013 is Thomas Vanek. He would likely go well on a line with Mikael Granlund and his best friend Jason Pominville and be able to rack up plenty of goals with his ability. It all depends how much the Wild are willing to spend on him.
On the defensive end, it looks like Minnesota is set to let the young players compete for work on the blue line. With the addition of Christian Folin late in the season and Matt Dumba coming in from the Portland Winterhawks of the WHL, I believe Minnesota should avoid free agent defensemen this offseason. With potentially nine defensemen already under contract having a real shot at making the roster, the Wild will be able to find six full-time defensemen and have reserves in case of injury.
Goalie is the most pressing issue coming into next season. It may not be the most pressing need, but it is worth taking a look at signing a free agent goalie. It really depends on the health of Josh Harding and Niklas Backstrom. If those guys are good to go and feel comfortable, there should be a full-time starter in the mix with them and Darcy Kuemper. If there is any uncertainty, the Minnesota Wild need to pursue a goalie this offseason. He doesn’t have to be a bona fide starter, but a competent backup should do the job.
If it comes down to the trade deadline next season and the Minnesota Wild are looking for a temp goalie, they will be kicking themselves for having to deal with the issue two years in a row. Jonas Gustavsson from Detroit, who is set to become a free agent, is a potential option.