Nearly two weeks into free agency, the majority of notable players have already signed deals to play somewhere next season. The Minnesota Wild took part in the day one frenzy by signing Thomas Vanek as the league collectively spent over $500 million in total money for new contracts. Vanek will likely be the only player that Minnesota will be able to boast about signing during free agency, but that certainly doesn’t mean the Wild has done poorly in the offseason signing period.
Let’s be honest. There was never any doubt in anyone’s mind that Thomas Vanek wasn’t going to be donning number 26 in a Minnesota Wild uniform next season. Even when he was reportedly down to two teams on July 1st, his return to Minnesota was imminent. What fans, and myself, were more curious to see was the price and term that Chuck Fletcher was able to negotiate for his services.
Later that night, it was reported that Vanek essentially took less money and less time than he could have received other places. The 3-year, $18 million deal he signed was clearly somewhat of a “hometown discount” that is extremely conducive when it comes to signing the likes of Mikael Granlund and Charlie Coyle when their rookie deals expire.
Where the Minnesota Wild has dropped the ball is their inability to address its lack of toughness on the roster. Clayton Stoner and Cody McCormick were both allowed to walk and sign with other elsewhere which has created a glaring hole on the roster that needs to be filled by an enforcer.
Joel Rechlicz and Stu Bickel were brought in to potentially fill in, but it is doubtful that either of them will seize a consistent spot in the lineup and they are not nearly equal to Stoner and McCormick. As of right now, this is the only area that must be addressed prior to starting the season.
In more recent news, the Minnesota Wild brought back a pair of familiar faces in an attempt to shore up the farm system that was absolutely pitiful last season. Jonathon Blum was resigned and will be an occasional contributor to the big club and an injury replacement if necessary.
The other signing was that of Jordan Schroeder who is a former St. Thomas Academy and Minnesota Gophers star who is well known around the state of hockey. He spent the beginning of his career in Vancouver after being drafted there and was never able to pan out as the point producer they had hoped. Hopefully a change of scenery and a more familiar area will allow him to regain the form that Minnesotans are used to.
Overall, Minnesota did its job bringing in Vanek and not breaking the bank while doing so. It can’t be stated enough how helpful his 3-year deal will be in the near future for the Wild. At this point, the only thing left to do is add some grit via free agency or trade before the season starts in order to deal with the tough Central Division. Grade: B