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  • Can the Wild Keep Up With Rest Of the West?


    Image courtesy of Matt Krohn-USA Today Sports
    Tony Abbott

    In the past two years, Kirill Kaprizov wasn't the only thing that gave the Minnesota Wild any hope of a deep playoff run. Nor was it adding the playoff bona fides of Marc-Andre Fleury, or Filip Gustavsson's sudden rise to prominence, orJoel Eriksson Ek and Matt Boldy's breakouts.

    Those were all the signs of a team that had Stanley Cup aspirations, but a big reason their hopes should've been high had little to do with anything they did or were. It was that the Western Conference was uncharacteristically weak. 

    Yes, the Colorado Avalanche are one of the NHL's best teams, and they are in Minnesota's division. But just about every other team going into the previous two postseasons was flawed, had serious questions, or both.

    For example, few people expected Vegas to win a Cup while on their third or fourth goalie. But when the teams you have to go through are a checked-out Winnipeg Jets, the top-heavy Edmonton Oilers, and a Dallas Stars squad that looked like Swiss cheese once Jake Oettinger faltered, their window was more open than most thought.

    Maybe that window would have opened for the Wild had they gotten past the first round. We'll never know. We don't know what the future holds, either, but we can guess pretty reasonably that the Weak West Window is going to close for Minnesota next year.

    In this league, if you're not getting better, you're getting worse. And the Wild aren't getting better this summer. The draft came and went without Minnesota making a major trade. A combination of Bill Guerin decisions -- some necessary, some not so much -- has greatly limited their flexibility to upgrade this offseason.

    Other than a sneaky upgrade at the margins, replacing the Ryan Reaves role with a similarly aging but more skillful Pat Maroon, the Wild haven't been able to boost their team at the start of free agency.

    The same can't be said for the West's contenders. The Wild challenged the Avs and Stars for the Central Division crown last season. But it'll be a surprise if they threaten to do so again. The Avalanche traded for center Ryan Johansen to replace the slowly-developing Alex Newhook and added more jam to their lineup in swinging trades for Ross Colton and Miles Wood.

    Meanwhile, the Stars made a nifty pickup themselves, scooping a bought-out Matt Duchene for a cool $3 million. Then they took Sam Steel off the market for $850k, cutting off a cheap option for the Wild.

    These were two talented, deep teams as is, and each of them picking off the corpse of the Nashville Predators made them better. Both Johansen and Duchene overstayed their welcomes, but they were both locked in at $8 million-plus cap hits. Johansen is 31, only two years removed from a 60-point season. Duchene scored 56 points last year, and 43 goals and 82 points two years ago. He wouldn't be the first 30-something to get new life in Dallas.

    The big dogs aren't limited to the Central, either. Vegas had to shed Reilly Smith this offseason, but remains a very strong team, bringing back playoff star Ivan Barbashev, even. Edmonton couldn't upgrade their team either, but still have Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl. The Los Angeles Kings swung their second big trade in as many years, nabbing Pierre-Luc Dubois to join Kevin Fiala on their resurgent team.

    You'd even think losing Dubois, Johansen, and Duchene would mean the Jets and Preds are waving the white flag. Not so much. They both got NHL help right away.

    The Dubois trade brought Alex Iafallo, a reliable middle-six winger, to Winnipeg, in addition to Gabriel Vilardi and Rasmus Kupari. Vilardi was a promising, but often injured, 6-foot-3 center prospect who finally had a strong season, scoring 23 goals and 41 points in 63 games. He'll turn 24 in August. Kupari hasn't found his way yet, but he just turned 23 and is also a big center. Maybe a change of scenery helps. As long as they don't trade Connor Hellebuyck or Mark Scheifele, they figure to be competitive.

    Nashville is in a similar boat, in that whatever else you can say about them, they have a goalie in Juuse Saros. They've also got Roman Josi quarterbacking their blueline, and former 40-goal scorer Filip Forsberg, whose health was an issue last season.

    They don't have last year's center depth, but look at what a culture change did for the Wild. Ryan O'Reilly showed he had gas left in the tank in Toronto, and he's in Nashville now. O'Reilly is a former captain and can theoretically lead the new-culture Preds. Gustav Nyquist could be a sneaky-good pickup, as he was for the Wild.

    Last season's surprise playoff team, the Seattle Kraken, hasn't upgraded materially yet, but they are one of few contenders with loads of cap space remaining. If they can get in the hunt for Erik Karlsson, or Alex DeBrincat, that changes the complexion of the team.

    Those are eight teams, right there, that have either meaningfully upgraded their team or stayed within the Wild's range. That doesn't account for any surprises, either. Can a new-look blueline propel the Vancouver Canucks to the postseason? Filip Hronek and Carson Soucy were both very nice additions from the past six months. Can Connor Bedard team up with Taylor Hall to sneak the Chicago Blackhawks (who are also loaded with cap space) into a Wild Card spot? 

    Again, we can't know. But things are looking fraught for the Wild this upcoming season. They still have a path to the playoffs. It involves that trinity of Kaprizov, Eriksson Ek, and Boldy remaining healthy and strong. It relies on internal improvements for Marco Rossi and Calen Addison. The plan will be contingent on goaltending, likely Gustavsson showing he can keep his stellar game from last year going.

    With so many other options cut off from Minnesota, though, everything will basically need to go right for them. Free agency probably isn't going to do them any favors. Aside from Rossi and Addison, most of their young prospects are about a year away. The trade deadline won't be nearly so eventful with such little cap space.

    Can they do it? The Wild aren't conceding the season and going into sell mode this offseason, so it appears they believe they can. We'll see if they're right.

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    I think this will be the toughest of the buyout years. Only one big contract expired after this last season to free up room, and now they will be depending on more than one kid to stick and impress for them to have any chance at the playoffs. I still think they have a shot at 3rd in the division, probably competing with Saint Louis. But their work is cut out for them, indeed. Once they make it to next summer, regardless of the outcome in 23-24, more contracts will expire and the fruits of their labor and patience will start to pay off even though there will be one buyout year left. And that excites me!

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    Honestly, I think we should play our young prospects, get them NHL experience and not care about wins and losses. With our pain when it comes to cap hits the next two years the team has a built-in excuse to finally "tank" the proper way.

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    Wow.  A lot covered in that article.  The Wild went through a lot last year as well.  But I think the Wild are stronger going into this season that last.  Maroon is better than Reaves.  Marcus Johansson is better than Jost.  Boldy has another year under his belt and Ek will definitely come back stronger and better this year.  Our biggest deficit is on D with losing Dumba.  That will be our biggest question mark.

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    It seems to me that the Wild have about 8 points they can play with. My expectation is that they will compete for a WC/3rd seeding spot in the Central. I expect seeding 3 to be right around the WC point totals as the Central is likely the weaker division in the conference at this point. 

    St. Louis, Nashville, Winnipeg, Chicago, and Arizona all appear to be in rebuild mode. It's going to depend a lot, once again, on if the Wild can take care of business against the bottom 20 teams. 

    We need to survive 1 more season as we can just begin to see the cavalry dust rising above the horizon. This should be the year we see Beckman and Walker. I've already penciled Rossi in. I believe Beckman/Walker will be a timeshare arrangement until 1 of them takes the spot. For Beckman, I believe he comes into camp considerably stronger upper body, for Walker, he cannot wear down after half a season. 

    But, is this a 1st round exit team again? Likely. They just don't have the center depth at the NHL level yet. Could a big year from Stramel have him turn pro and help us down the stretch? That might be a nice piece coming in. Stramel is already at 222 and looks like he's aggressively lifting this offseason. His body is already NHL size, how much more development can he get out of Wisconsin? Going in as kind of an underager, I could see him using 3 seasons there to his benefit, but if the hometown team comes calling, that's another big bodied center in the playoffs and he could be a hero! If Faber could do it, so could Stramel, though, Faber had that 3rd season.

    In regards to the article, getting better isn't necessarily adding outside help for the Wild, getting better will be done internally, and that is a little stealthier. 

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    Maroon fills the hole left by Reaves. That cost, 2M is fair but probably at the top of MN’s budget for that role. I wouldn’t be surprised if the idea was to put Rossi with a guy like Maroon and perhaps Duhaime who is more of a shooter & speed player or a guy like Beckman who’s also a shooter but could learn a lot from Maroon. Can Maroon help those guys become NHL players in a symbiosis/chemistry line that’s bottom six contributing???

    That would be an ideal scenario for the Wild. Yeah, it’s a long-shot but that would give MN the greatest value from Maroon and elevate guys who I think have the skill to make plays and score in the NHL. 
     

    Like I said, probably not likely but that’s the kind of positive surprise the Wild will need to keep rolling. They’ve got some AHL guys who are really close but what kind of impact can they make in the NHL? There’s some free agents who could be affordable but there aren’t many holes needing to be filled. We know Guerin would like to upgrade the scoring but the money isn’t there for an easy addition. Prospects might be the backup plan to begin the year.

     

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    22 minutes ago, TCMooch said:

    Honestly, I think we should play our young prospects, get them NHL experience and not care about wins and losses. With our pain when it comes to cap hits the next two years the team has a built-in excuse to finally "tank" the proper way.

    The thing is, players don’t tank. I think the Wild are too good to be amongst the worst. Maybe miss the playoffs but it probably not getting a top draft pick unless the wheels really fall off. I just can’t see that happening under Guerin. The current plan doesn’t look like a tank this season or next deal. It appears to be small gains, build along the way to cap freedom.

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    I think the idea of taking our foot off the gas a little and giving our inbetweeners some NHL experience could be the right plan for getting ourselves in a good position for the cap hit to come off. While I appreciate the craftiness of Guerin these past couple years to put together a playoff caliber team with one hand tied behind his back, it is possible that trying to achieve the same throughout the depths of the cap hits might stunt or hinder the growth of the prospects. Back filling with veterans has been a good card to play up unto this point but won't work this year with our foreseeable cap space. 

    Looking at most non-generational talents, most guys take 2-3 years to get fully up to speed in the NHL. This is an overgeneralization but holds true the majority of the time. Now is the time to bring the Walkers and Beckmans out of the A. Beckman could be a prolific scorer and has an excellent shot. It would be very valuable to have a third scoring line on our team with the forth focusing on checking and gritty play. Walker and Beckman already have great chemistry from the A and paired with a responsible veteran with Freddy could make a great line. I don't see Moose contributing to that sort of play but a Moose, Duhaime, Maroon line would have people running scared.

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    ^^^

    Totally. The Wild have a lotnof good elements. Their winning pedigree is developed. The organizational stability exists to endure two very tough years. If young players can step up, the Wild can get better. If not, it's gonna be up to Foligno, Hartman, Zuccarello and players like that to have big years. The cap penalties are just too harsh to allow Guerin other options. What really matters is how hot the team is going into the playoffs. I think the Wild will be a playoff team again.

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    Have to ask is this is the case for the foreseeable future as well.

    One of the best drafts in NHL history in terms of talent (allegedly), and nearly everybody in our division had multiple first round picks, including a generational talent taken at 1.  Meanwhile, we’re not even sure our top prospect can play in the NHL (Rossi) and our draft class in an amazing class was less than inspiring.

    Who knows what actually transpires,  but we’re in a pretty significant transitionary period, here.  If we find out Geurin and Brackett don’t know what they’re doing, we could be entering a very extended dark period for this team.

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    I saw Russo suggesting in the Athletic that he anticipates Gus getting at least $3M per season for his contract. Some may view that as too much for his body of work, but he did have a pretty phenomenal year and the Wild should sign him for multiple years to keep him around at least through the cap strapped years.

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    9 hours ago, MNCountryLife said:

    Our biggest deficit is on D with losing Dumba.  That will be our biggest question mark.

    It would be interesting if Dumba signs a 2-year contract. That would allow him to cash in with someone else in the years the Wild cannot afford him while leaving the door open for his return when the Wild could use a veteran D man to make a playoff push in 2025-2026.

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    10 hours ago, Protec said:

    Maroon fills the hole left by Reaves. That cost, 2M is fair but probably at the top of MN’s budget for that role. I wouldn’t be surprised if the idea was to put Rossi with a guy like Maroon and perhaps Duhaime who is more of a shooter & speed player or a guy like Beckman who’s also a shooter but could learn a lot from Maroon. Can Maroon help those guys become NHL players in a symbiosis/chemistry line that’s bottom six contributing???

    That would be an ideal scenario for the Wild. Yeah, it’s a long-shot but that would give MN the greatest value from Maroon and elevate guys who I think have the skill to make plays and score in the NHL. 
     

    Like I said, probably not likely but that’s the kind of positive surprise the Wild will need to keep rolling. They’ve got some AHL guys who are really close but what kind of impact can they make in the NHL? There’s some free agents who could be affordable but there aren’t many holes needing to be filled. We know Guerin would like to upgrade the scoring but the money isn’t there for an easy addition. Prospects might be the backup plan to begin the year.

     

    Maroon is signed at a cost of $800k to the Wikd (with $200k retained by TB) which is an upgrade for a better price over Reaves.  Rossi needs to be given the opportunity he was drafted for and not put on with lesser offense minded talent.  Time to sink or swim.  Putting him with the grinders makes as much sense as putting Reaves on the regular with #97.

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    11 hours ago, Beast said:

    Meanwhile, we’re not even sure our top prospect can play in the NHL (Rossi) and our draft class in an amazing class was less than inspiring.

    I think what you just said is exactly why Guerin changed up IA this off season.  It isn't necessarily having the best draft picks.  It is about having motivated players willing to push themselves to the next level and a coaching staff that understands each player and how to advance them.  If both sides of that equation are working your chances of success are greater.  

    Rossi was challenged last year and told what to do this summer.  Hockey Wilderness was on top of it with a nice article about how Rossi is working his butt off to do exactly what he needs to do to make the next step.  Sounds like the motivation is there and the coaches are pushing in the right direction.  I am very much looking forward to seeing if Rossi can take that next step.

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    11 hours ago, Beast said:

    Have to ask is this is the case for the foreseeable future as well.

    One of the best drafts in NHL history in terms of talent (allegedly), and nearly everybody in our division had multiple first round picks, including a generational talent taken at 1.  Meanwhile, we’re not even sure our top prospect can play in the NHL (Rossi) and our draft class in an amazing class was less than inspiring.

    Who knows what actually transpires,  but we’re in a pretty significant transitionary period, here.  If we find out Geurin and Brackett don’t know what they’re doing, we could be entering a very extended dark period for this team.

    Idk what you expected the Wild to do, man. Nobody was moving back in the draft. They literally had to wait to make their pick.

    Sure, they could've taken Perrault instead of Stramel but where does he stack up with Rossi/Yurov/Khusnutdinov/Beckman? He's a pass-first winger, which we already have PLENTY of. And with him playing at 165 lbs, we'd have to wait for his frame to develop too. There's already a logjam of prospects for the top-6, so I don't know that adding more of the same element to it helps us improve. 

    As opposed to the wide-open Center depth chart where we have Ek and then a bunch of converted wingers. Seems to me we're more likely to get some actual return from Stramel in the line-up, and sooner at that, that fits the timeline of the team better. 

    And for what its worth, they still got Heidt (who many had projected as a 1st round pick) with the final pick of the 2nd round, so in essence they also got multiple 1st round picks themselves. 

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    12 hours ago, Imyourhuckleberry said:

    I saw Russo suggesting in the Athletic that he anticipates Gus getting at least $3M per season for his contract. Some may view that as too much for his body of work, but he did have a pretty phenomenal year and the Wild should sign him for multiple years to keep him around at least through the cap strapped years.

    It seems to me that Goose2 has little leverage. He had 1 good season where he played in less than half the games. I just don't see how that propels him into a $3m/ contract. Did he overperform last season's deal? Yes, but he also got to play in a better system for him. 

    I would say that the sample size is too small, and I'd like to give him the opportunity to take the majority of the starts. I think a lower bridge deal for 2 years would be great for the team, but maybe even a low 1 year deal might be a better compromise for the player. Can Goose2 handle an increased load? That is the real question here. Generally, you don't pay the guy an increased load salary before he shows you that he can handle an increased load. 

    And then comes the question, "Do we want him to handle much of an increased load?" Some may say "Why wouldn't you?" Well, with The Wall coming up in '24, does he just come up to back up, or is he coming to share the load? I'm real excited about this tandem coming, and if the goalies are going to perform well at about 45 games/season, that has to be taken into account to. We would have 1 year left on The Wall's ELC, and he wouldn't be expected to get a huge raise coming out of that deal. 

    For me, I think Russo's number is too high. I also believe that Goose2 has already experienced goalie purgatory (Ottawa), and knows what structure does for his game. I'd suggest that he needs the Wild about as much as the Wild need him. I think if he takes a lower number and bets on himself in this structure, he comes out better in the long run. I also believe that Guerin knows who helps him out in these lean years and does have loyalty to players who take a hair cut to help him out. That's why Freddy got 5 years and might help out Hartsy too. 

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    12 hours ago, Imyourhuckleberry said:

    It would be interesting if Dumba signs a 2-year contract. That would allow him to cash in with someone else in the years the Wild cannot afford him while leaving the door open for his return when the Wild could use a veteran D man to make a playoff push in 2025-2026.

    I'm wondering how much interest Dumba has at this point, and if he'd be willing to sign a 1 year deal at a very low price to try and get him to an increasing cap free agency period. As for us, I think 1 year is what we'd need before the reinforcements are ready. 

    I could see the signing coming with an NTC where Dumba is fully involved in where he goes if necessary at the TDL. 

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    1 hour ago, B1GKappa97 said:

    As opposed to the wide-open Center depth chart where we have Ek and then a bunch of converted wingers. Seems to me we're more likely to get some actual return from Stramel in the line-up, and sooner at that, that fits the timeline of the team better. 

    And for what its worth, they still got Heidt (who many had projected as a 1st round pick) with the final pick of the 2nd round, so in essence they also got multiple 1st round picks themselves. 

    Well said Kappa! I'd just like to add that when drafting, even taking the BPA method, it's not just skill that is evaluated. Obviously, Stramel was not the most skilled player on the board, but a combination of size, strength, speed, skill, hockey IQ, and character was used too, and for that he may have been pretty high on some people's boards. 

    Stramel only had 5 goals and 7 assists last season. Wisconsin was terrible. What if the wings Stramel played with were terrible and couldn't get him the puck when he was in position or couldn't convert when he put them in position? Or, maybe they were just never where they were supposed to be? Since it was said that Wisconsin played with no structure, maybe Stramel looks like a completely different player if he plays in a structured system? Maybe he wasn't the BPA on the board when we drafted, but, maybe, he was the BPA on the board for THIS organization at 21? 

    Stramel weighed in at the combine at 222. He looked pretty lean with some upper body strength when he took off his jacket to go get his jersey. While I was orally questioning who this kid was at the draft, it did not escape me that he looked large and imposing. Since our wings can pretty much drive play, it wasn't incumbent on our new centers to have to do that, they just needed to control the center of the ice, and get it to the wings. That's precisely what Kumpulainen has to do too. Heidt could be that guy who can drive play from the position. 

    Is Stramel our Getzlaf or Kesler? I think he'll be like one of them. I'm hoping we got a Getzlaf and that Kumpulainen is like a Kesler. What's kind of interesting is that Evason was part of a 3 rookie centers group with Hartford when he came up. Evason, Ron Francis and Ray Ferraro. That trio was really good. 

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    22 minutes ago, mnfaninnc said:

    I'm wondering how much interest Dumba has at this point, and if he'd be willing to sign a 1 year deal at a very low price to try and get him to an increasing cap free agency period. As for us, I think 1 year is what we'd need before the reinforcements are ready. 

    I could see the signing coming with an NTC where Dumba is fully involved in where he goes if necessary at the TDL. 

    I think that happens only if Dumba finds that his contract wants do not match what is offered. He seems to really like playing here but as short as careers are in pro sports, he will take the money if offered.

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    27 minutes ago, mnfaninnc said:

    I just don't see how that propels him into a $3m/ contract.

    I knew someone was arguing that he should receive less than $2M/season, and I didn't believe that was realistic. There are very few goalies between $1M and $2M, and the ones in that middle range never posted a season as strong as Gus just did.

    I'm not saying that the Wild have to pay him $3M per season, but it would not be shocking to me if he gets at least $2.5M per season in order to get him on a deal that lasts more than 1 year. Russo is pretty plugged in.

    I did verify it was you who previously suggested he should get less than $2M per season. Gustavvson posted a save percentage above .920 in 42 games of work last year(including the playoffs), so I think it's quite reasonable to anticipate he could handle 45 games without falling off too drastically.

    If the Wild could get him at $1.75 this season on a 1-year deal, but he has another year above a .920 save percentage, then someone is going to buy at $4M+ per season. If we assume he'll post stats at least as good as an average starter(far from guaranteed, but quite possible), the Wild could end up in a worse position if they don't get him on a multi-year deal now.

    Obviously, the wheels could fall off and make it a poor deal, but I think the Wild need to roll the dice for at least 2 years with Gus, and I think 2 years at $5M total, $2.5M per season, could be reasonable for both sides.

    I wouldn't be completely opposed to going 3 years at $3M per season to lock Gus at the position for that first year after the Wild's cap opens up. There are more than 30 goalies making $3M+ per season right now, so the Wild could have a great deal if they can get him at that number and he continues to perform above average.

    Wallstedt very well could be ready to take over as a #1 around that 2025-2026 season, but the Wild likely will not have to pay him like a #1 until after that year, and may not want to count on him being dominant early on in his NHL career. Guerin usually doesn't operate that way with the young guys.

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    1 hour ago, B1GKappa97 said:

    in essence they also got multiple 1st round picks themselves. 

    Yeah, based on the draft depth and the variety of picks with a Euro at 53rd you might say the Wild got the equivalent of three 1sts. Time will tell but for now we can suggest this.

    23 minutes ago, mnfaninnc said:

    And then comes the question, "Do we want him to handle much of an increased load?" Some may say "Why wouldn't you?" Well, with The Wall coming up in '24, does he just come up to back up, or is he coming to share the load? I'm real excited about this tandem coming, and if the goalies are going to perform well at about 45 games/season, that has to be taken into account to. We would have 1 year left on The Wall's ELC, and he wouldn't be expected to get a huge raise coming out of that deal. 

    This is the thing Guerin is managing. When do guys need to get paid and what kind of control can you maintain? Agents are gonna do their thing but the GM has to be careful not to get the team into bad positions. Arbitration will likely help MN because jumping Gus from 800K to 3M is more than double. I.e. The Wild will be better off letting those chips fall and see what the arbitrator awards. Would they be able to justify bumping Gus up nearly 4X??? Similarly for Duhaime. Does arbitration favor players more than teams? I don't think MN is afraid to give raises to their RFAs. I think they're just looking to best manage the last but of cap space. What if arbitration gives Gus 3X his current salary, that's ~2.4M. Guerin would be foolish to rush into a 3M deal. Not because Gus isn't liked or an important part of the team but the moves need to be played out.

    I think this season would be a great time to put a three goaltender rotation for a few weeks here and there. Rest Fleury and Gus here and there and try to get Wallstedt in to learn some NHL hockey. How much of a battle will there be in the standings to allow that?

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    37 minutes ago, Up North Guy said:

    I think that happens only if Dumba finds that his contract wants do not match what is offered. He seems to really like playing here but as short as careers are in pro sports, he will take the money if offered.

    This is exactly how I was feeling. He's got his home here so getting up and moving wouldn't factor in this year. But, since he hasn't been signed already, and he probably wants to be on a decent team, he may role the dice and bet on himself having a bounce back year and cashing in with a bigger cap next season.

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    10 minutes ago, Imyourhuckleberry said:

    If the Wild could get him at $1.75 this season on a 1-year deal, but he has another year above a .920 save percentage, then someone is going to buy at $4M+ per season. If we assume he'll post stats at least as good as an average starter(far from guaranteed, but quite possible), the Wild could end up in a worse position if they don't get him on a multi-year deal now.

    Obviously, the wheels could fall off and make it a poor deal, but I think the Wild need to roll the dice for at least 2 years with Gus, and I think 2 years at $5M total, $2.5M per season, could be reasonable for both sides.

    I wouldn't be completely opposed to going 3 years at $3M per season to lock Gus at the position for that first year after the Wild's cap opens up. There are more than 30 goalies making $3M+ per season right now, so the Wild could have a great deal if they can get him at that number and he continues to perform above average.

    I'm looking at Kahkonen's contract as a comparable. We had a little more history on Big Kahk before resigning him. Kahkonen got the 1 way deal at minimum for 2 years coming off a season where he was AHL goalie of the year. He had shown pretty well up here with 5 games. And it was a long process signing him, he waited until Oct. 12th. 

    Essentially, he got the 1 way deal and then I would say outperformed the deal. At the end of his deal, Guerin sent him to San Jose. They gave him $2.75m and he fell apart. An equally leaky Ottawa team had Goose2 fall apart before last year. While that's just 2 cases, it would seem like the Wild's structure does improve a goalie's stats.

    I do feel like Goose2 is better than Big Kahk at this point. So, based on that, I'd probably double what Kahk got. Specifically, Kahkonen struggled with his glove hand, and when he was off, that hand drooped. Goose2 has a much better glove, and to me seems to have some better angles and closes the 5 whole better. 

    But, you still have 2 goalies who did rather well in our structure and rather poorly in some porous defensive teams' structure. Kahkonen had about the same amount of games with us that Goose2 had. Going by the "goalies are weird" mantra, I think I'd slow walk Goose2's salary raises.

    So much of a goalie's performance comes from the confidence factor. Structure also helps that confidence, confidence that your teammates will clear rebounds and block shots. Confidence in your ability to stop the puck. Playing free helps that confidence. Playing with a larger cap number on your shoulders, especially when the team is cap strapped and you're not playing particularly well, is a serious weight for a young kid. Yes, Goose2 has earned a raise, but do it incrementally, not all at once. 

    Try to keep in mind that going into last season, while Goose2 was still in Ottawa, he thought last season would be his final season over here and he'd be headed back to Sweden to finish out his career. He did not feel wanted in Ottawa either. He's just entering his 25 year, the year where goalies typically start to make their mark. If he is successful, he's got plenty of time ahead of him. 

    I still believe it is in Goose2's best interest to go short term bridge deal. With a little more experience, and not much pressure on him, he can be free to improve and contribute and build himself into a 1. If I were him, I'd really want another year under the mentorship of MAF. 

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    Did I miss an announcement?

    I thought I'd read all of Thomas' updates, but I missed that both Duhaime and Gustavsson had filed for arbitration. Interestingly, Addison did not. I'm not sure how this goes, but do the Wild try to get 2 years on the arbitration or 1 year? I think 2 years with Duhaime probably comes in at a fantastic price. 2 years on Goose2 might be a little risky, but you probably get a bargain in the 2nd year. 

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