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  • Extending Three Trusty Veterans Will Help Minnesota's New Core Develop


    Image courtesy of Jerome Miron-USA Today Sports
    Kalisha Turnipseed

    Many people who follow the Minnesota Wild believe Mats Zuccarello, Ryan Hartman, and Marcus Foligno will likely walk as unrestricted free agents next summer. They’re all in contract years, and the Wild have limited cap space. What if I can tell you they can serve a benefit to the prospects? Not blocking them, but supporting them in a veteran, depth role? 

    Now, if they demand too much money, that will complicate the growth and development of Minnesota’s prospects. The Wild have a price point in mind, and they might need to let them sign elsewhere if these UFAs can’t fit it. But for the time being, Zuccarello, Hartman, and Foligno can serve Minnesota’s depth in a way that benefits the team as they transition into a legitimate Stanley Cup contender. 

    Danila Yurov, Marat Khusnutdinov, and Liam Öhgren are the top prospect forwards who are expected to join the team in 2024-25. Each of them should join the team’s top-nine to make an immediate impact. The Athletic’s Michael Russo, reported that Öhgren is coming to Minnesota to be further evaluated by the team’s doctors to determine the severity of his back injury. This means he’s likely out indefinitely, which is a stunt in his development, but rest assured Öhgren will be ready to make the team in 2024-25. Rest up and recover! 

    The Wild are projected to have approximately $24 million dollars in cap space next summer. They have every right to be patient to see who deserves to stay and who goes. Popular opinion is to let these guys walk. However, it’s important to note that Zuccarello is likely staying in Minnesota, and for good reason. If he agrees to have Dean Evason shelter his minutes so that he can be more effective, there should be common ground between him and the team. The Wild also need to consider Kirill Kaprizov’s happiness in hopes of him signing an extension. 

    Zuccarello’s not going to get $6 million in his next contract. However, what if he settles for a 25% cut? That means he agrees to a two- to three-year deal worth $4.5 million per season. Kaprizov’s contract expires in 2026-27, so that means that Zuccarello will need to sign at least a 2-year contract. That puts the Wild around $20 million to sign more players. 

    Yurov is expected to come over from Russia and play with Kaprizov. However, Zuccarello and Kaprizov are inseparable as they’re forming an Alex Ovechkin-Nicklas Backstrom kind of relationship. What if Yurov comes and replaces Hartman as their center? Didn’t fans want a more skilled player in between them? Well, Yurov fits that description. The expectation is for Rossi to eventually join Kaprizov. But what if the team decides to play Rossi with Boldy? Both already have chemistry, making the top-six more lethal. The Wild should be in business with Yurov and Rossi as their one-two punch at center. 

    Khusnutdinov would likely play the wing alongside Rossi and Boldy, which should still be a productive and exciting line. Expect Khusnutdinov to continue adding to his frame, much like Rossi did in adding 15 pounds over the past year. Both can likely hold their own against NHL competition while Boldy facilitates his line and creates chaos in front of the net, much like Bill Guerin requested during his exit interview this past spring. 

    Hartman has value to the Wild in a middle-six role with the team as he plays alongside Joel Eriksson Ek and Öhgren. Hartman would enjoy playing a shutdown role with these two as Öhgren gets lessons in being both a quiet and verbal agitator from both players. These three will be hard to play against and will often be productive, due to everyone having the ability to play center. 

    Hartman will get a pay raise. The only question is: how much? Due to the role he currently plays, he’d be able to step in as center in a pinch. So if anything, he could enjoy seeing around a 75% increase in his pay as this puts him at around $3 million. Expect this term contract to be 2-3 years as Hunter Haight, Riley Heidt, Caedan Bankier, etc., will be able to continue their development in juniors and Iowa. These two contracts would leave Minnesota with about $17 million in cap space, plenty of room to work with. Hartman loves Minnesota, and he has earned the right to stay. 

    Where would Foligno end up? Well, that's the tricky part. He’s the default option to put on the fourth line. However, they’d want to monitor his health better, especially with him aging into his mid-30s. Currently, the Wild have Freddy Gaudreau and Marcus Johansson in the fold. They both are more than capable of replacing the speed Connor Dewar and Brandon Duhaime currently bring to the 4th line, not to mention more upside. Someone like Foligno should be able to bring grittiness and leadership to this line.

    But what if I tell you there’s a better spot for Foligno here: the 13th forward position? 

    It’s time for Sammy Walker to play the big club, even if it’s a fourth-line role. Walker deserves the chance to play, as he has more offensive upside than Duhaime, Dewar, and Foligno. Walker can play a solid and effective two-way game, with blistering speed that will bring fans out of their seats. Gaudreau and Johansson are going to give Walker valuable advice to learn from. This line can create so much chaos and problems, completing their bottom-six. 2024-25 is Walker’s time! 

    Foligno’s current salary is $3.1 million. What if he gets a similar contract and role as Ryan Reaves? Reaves just got a three-year deal at $1.35 million per season. Let’s say Foligno gets around $1.5 to $1.7 million. Foligno can draw in for injuries, keeping him healthy, as well as match-ups that require his toughness. Guerin could give Foligno a No-Trade Clause because of Minnesota’s previous relationship with him. The Wild will be able to manage because they’re coming out of cap hell. 

    Ultimately, what do we have here? A team that looks like they’ve filled in the gaps that they were previously missing. Building center depth in Rossi, Yurov, Eriksson Ek, and Gaudreau? Check. A strong supporting cast with young talent? Check. A Superstar? Check. This article isn’t about Minnesota’s defense, but there’s enough talent there to support the forwards. They’ll be riding Filip Gustavsson and likely Jesper Wallstedt, all they need is a seamless transition to the future. With Zuccarello, Hartman, and Foligno still on board, they’ll have that. 

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    Not sure the math works. I like all those players but I do believe their time has passed. Moose and Hobbit are on the wrong side of the curve. Also, signing players over 35 in the NHL brings contract requirements that can be pretty bad. Hartman is young enough and flexible enough to resign at a reasonable price. The young guys have been blocked for too long (though not really that many of them) and more are coming that need slots. It is time to start rolling the roster over.

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    Replacing Dewar and Duhaime with Mojo and Freddy? Why would we send young talent with the possiblity to continue growing and getting better down the road to load up the forth line with pensioners who have hit their ceiling and are likely to regress? 

    UN Guy hit the nail on the head. At some point we need to graduate some of the guys in IA.

    There is a ton of speculation around Kap being unhappy if Zucc goes elsewhere. From the interviews Kap wants to win. He can see Zucc slowing down just as well as anyone else, would he really hold it against the Wild that they are trying to get better and younger in their quest for the cup?

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    The Athletic’s Michael Russo, reported that Öhgren is coming to Minnesota to be further evaluated by the team’s doctors to determine the severity of his back injury. This means he’s likely out indefinitely, which is a stunt in his development, but rest assured Öhgren will be ready to make the team in 2024-25.

    That's only 1 year away. Due to this injury, I would guess it will be 25-26 before Öhgren might be pushing his way up to the Wild roster.  He could be in the AHL next season, but this injury is likely going to set back his development.

     

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    Not a big fan of the salary numbers your throwing out, and no way I give up on Dewar and Duhaime. 

    • Zucc - 3M max - one year
    • Moose - 2M max - two year
    • Hartzy - 2.5M max - three year
    • Dewey - 1.75 - two year
    • Duhaime - 2M - two year

    I like what you did with the lines, but I also know you would need to convince DE of this plan. He'll be happy that you are keeping these three, but if the price isnt right they need to walk.

    If Öhgren loses a year that could impact these lines also as one less body to start with (start in IA).

    No way you hold Walker back again next year, something has to give and if I had to pick, Moose would be my choice. Zucci on year and Hartman to the 3rd or 4th line.

     

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    Hmmm.  From what I have seen from Walker, he is ready now.  How do you sit him in IA when we need goal scorers in MN.  I think BG will act on Walker sometime before xmas.  Once Walker plays up... DE and BG will not want to send him down.  Since we can't afford him up when everyone is healthy a trade  (or cut) will happen....similar to Jost.  Whoever is not playing well is likely gone to another team.

    Beckman may make a similar case this year.  Although I am less confident on him.

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    2 hours ago, Up North Guy said:

    Not sure the math works. I like all those players but I do believe their time has passed. Moose and Hobbit are on the wrong side of the curve. Also, signing players over 35 in the NHL brings contract requirements that can be pretty bad. Hartman is young enough and flexible enough to resign at a reasonable price. The young guys have been blocked for too long (though not really that many of them) and more are coming that need slots. It is time to start rolling the roster over.

    So very much this! I'm sick and tired of this team overpaying aging players on the HOPE they continue to be productive or worse hoping they become productive AGAIN. If we need veterans, get guys that are at least young enough to have a chance of playing out 80% of their contracts.

    Edited by FredJohnson
    Grammer
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    1 hour ago, TheGoosesAreLooses said:There is a ton of speculation around Kap being unhappy if Zucc goes elsewhere. 

    Fine, keep the Lizard King but jettison the rest of the geriatrics.

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    13 minutes ago, MNCountryLife said:

    Hmmm.  From what I have seen from Walker, he is ready now.  How do you sit him in IA when we need goal scorers in MN.  I think BG will act on Walker sometime before xmas.  Once Walker plays up... DE and BG will not want to send him down.  Since we can't afford him up when everyone is healthy a trade  (or cut) will happen....similar to Jost.  Whoever is not playing well is likely gone to another team.

    Beckman may make a similar case this year.  Although I am less confident on him.

    Yeah, Sammy will be up and down this year.

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    8 minutes ago, FredJohnson said:

    Fine, keep the Lizard King but jettison the rest of the geriatrics.

    We need Hartzy for the 4th line if Maroon and Moose are gone next year, there is no one in IA that helps with that much skill and grit. I think he would be a nice compliment to Duhaime and Dewar and also flexible as to who you have at 4C.

    I sure not looking to put Walker on the 4th line island. He needs to be on the 3rd line next year.

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    The article states that Yurov, Khusnutdinov, Öhgren may be ready next year... and we are potentially adding Rossi, Walker and Beckman as forwards  as well.  Add in Faber, Hunt and Masters as D-men by next year. 

    So a total of 9 prospects playing up on the roster by 24-25?  That would be a massive WOW!!!  It would also require a loss of 9 veterans... ouch.

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    4 minutes ago, MNCountryLife said:

    The article states that Yurov, Khusnutdinov, Öhgren may be ready next year... and we are potentially adding Rossi, Walker and Beckman as forwards  as well.  Add in Faber, Hunt and Masters as D-men by next year. 

    So a total of 9 prospects playing up on the roster by 24-25?  That would be a massive WOW!!!  It would also require a loss of 9 veterans... ouch.

    Dont forget Lambos! He may be seen this year...for a game or 2. Also, Spacek.

    Edited by vonlonster67
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    14 minutes ago, vonlonster67 said:

    Dont forget Lambos! He may be seen this year...for a game or 2. Also, Spacek.

    Bottom line is the Wild have a large group of players ready or nearly ready to move up. Resigning older injury prone players is a bigger risk. There will surely be growing pains with all the new guys but there is only one way to know if they can make the grade at the NHL level and that is to promote and play them. Fans always have their favorites that they do not want to see leave (I am old enough to still be pissed that Harmon Killebrew ended his career in Kansas City). BG's job is to separate that fan feeling for the good of the team. Players never know that their expiration date has passed until it is too late.

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    17 hours ago, MNCountryLife said:

    The article states that Yurov, Khusnutdinov, Öhgren may be ready next year... and we are potentially adding Rossi, Walker and Beckman as forwards  as well.  Add in Faber, Hunt and Masters as D-men by next year. 

    So a total of 9 prospects playing up on the roster by 24-25?  That would be a massive WOW!!!  It would also require a loss of 9 veterans... ouch.

    I'm not so sure that this number would be the turnover. Faber is already in the mix. Rossi, we'll see. Ohgren sounds like he'll be set back at least a year. I agree that there will be a good sized turnover but I can't see half the team in one year.

    Hunt, Masters, Lambos and Spacek will be auditioning to take over Goligoski, Merrill and possibly Addison's spots. Someone will likely be out of the mix.

    I'm also in favor of bringing up young prospects vs signing relics with the exception of Grizzle.

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    1 hour ago, Sviginak said:

    Looks like good news on Ohgren; checked out by Wild doctors and given the OK to start skating when he gets back to Scandahoovia.

    That's the best news for this team I've read in a few minutes!

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    3 hours ago, Backwoodsbob said:

    I'm not so sure that this number would be the turnover. Faber is already in the mix. Rossi, we'll see. Ohgren sounds like he'll be set back at least a year. I agree that there will be a good sized turnover but I can't see half the team in one year.

    Hunt, Masters, Lambos and Spacek will be auditioning to take over Goligoski, Merrill and possibly Addison's spots. Someone will likely be out of the mix.

    I'm also in favor of bringing up young prospects vs signing relics with the exception of Grizzle.

    Bob, in regard to the D. I'm hoping they move Goose or Merrill and give us some breathing room this year.

    I'd rather take our lumps and get a multitude of D-men from IA playing time rather than see inconsistent play from one of the vets, injury, or hitting a wall due to age or talent.

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    21 hours ago, MNCountryLife said:

    The article states that Yurov, Khusnutdinov, Öhgren may be ready next year... and we are potentially adding Rossi, Walker and Beckman as forwards  as well.  Add in Faber, Hunt and Masters as D-men by next year. 

    So a total of 9 prospects playing up on the roster by 24-25?  That would be a massive WOW!!!  It would also require a loss of 9 veterans... ouch.

    As already mentioned, Lambos would be in the mix, probably replacing Faber on this list. But, how does anyone forget The Wall??? That would be 10 if we're counting. 

    Based upon that, I really only see room for 1 vet to stay. Foligno is my guy on that list.

    Zuccarello is getting to that age where he can fall off the cliff hard. Hartman may be younger, but he's like a 2018 vehicle with 200k miles on it. It looks newer but has been used heavily. Highway miles? Nope, they were grinding it out, tough miles. Foligno's had some tough miles too, but his frame can handle more than Hartman's. 

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    That means he agrees to a two- to three-year deal worth $4.5 million per season. Kaprizov’s contract expires in 2026-27, so that means that Zuccarello will need to sign at least a 2-year contract.

    Zuccy just signed 2 years, $8.25M (4.125AAV) with NMC both years... 

    Sounds like wheels have started for Hartzy and Moose too:

     

    Edited by MrCheatachu
    moose/hartzy news
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    The premise of this article I wholeheartedly disagree with. If our roster was unlimited, perhaps we could entertain this, but it's not, it's capped at 23. 

    Here are my problems:

    1. Keeping Zuccarello, Hartman, Foligno while letting the Dewey's go.
    2. Blocking the kids from coming up.
    3. Holding on to past glory thinking it will come again.
    4. That Kaprizov has to have Zuccarello on the team or he strikes.
    5. Have we not learned our lesson with Alex Goligoski?

    Let's look at Goligoski. He signed a 1 year $5m contract and looked real good next to Spurgeon. Spurgeon has that affect on a lot of people and we all saw that Goligoski was much faster than Ryan Suter. However, with about 40% of the year left, suddenly Goligoski hit a brick wall. 

    Goligoski was never the same after that. That wall is obvious to the spectators-it's the wall of age. Every player hits that wall. When? It's different for everyone, but the signs are similar.

    With Pominville, it was the swing and whiffs on one timers. With Heatley, his speed decreased tremendously. With Parise it was the injury toll. With Suter, it was the same thing and lack of speed. And, with Goligoski it was speed. 

    Zuccarello was having a decent season last year, until an injury to Kaprizov interrupted it. But, was it Zuccy stepping up in the absence? No, it was Boldy who elevated his game. Zuccarello, it turns out, was also dealing with a core injury and gutting it out. The affect: He looked slower and was injured. Does this have a similar pattern to the above? Absolutely!

    The sky will not fall in Kaprizov's world if Zuccarello is traded or not resigned. He wants to win more than anything and he knows that players age out. He's been in contact with Yurov, telling him he's waiting for him. That is who Kaprizov likely sees himself playing with. 

    Hartman is another player with a lot of miles on him. Let's face it, he performed his full 3 year contract in the 1st year. He got hurt last year, right shoulder/arm and knee. He gets hurt a lot. If he has a decent year this year, he'll be do a nice raise. But, he stayed here because it felt like home to him and took the team friendly deal to be a part of this. 

    Foligno did not take the team friendly deal, but he performed most of his contract in its first year too. I believe Foligno will age better than Hartman, even though Hartman likely has more skill. What Foligno brings we do not have in Iowa. Stramel might be able to replicate it, but is probably 2 years off, and it won't be replicated right away. I truly value the heavy game, or at least the ability to have that heavy shift if needed. Foligno provides that much better than Hartman, though I believe Hartman is a bit chippier. Remember, it was Hartman who reverse hit Ehlers in response to Kaprizov's injury the last time the 2 teams had met. 

    In this case, I'd prefer Foligno, but I could settle with Hartman. The thing is, it really can only be 1 of them that stays. The Dewey's give way too much value not to be resigned. And, as a team, we do need to get younger.

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    1 hour ago, mnfaninnc said:

    As already mentioned, Lambos would be in the mix, probably replacing Faber on this list. But, how does anyone forget The Wall??? That would be 10 if we're counting. 

    Based upon that, I really only see room for 1 vet to stay. Foligno is my guy on that list.

    Zuccarello is getting to that age where he can fall off the cliff hard. Hartman may be younger, but he's like a 2018 vehicle with 200k miles on it. It looks newer but has been used heavily. Highway miles? Nope, they were grinding it out, tough miles. Foligno's had some tough miles too, but his frame can handle more than Hartman's. 

    It's a really good problem to have.  With an excess number of players coming in it allows us to trade players away and collect more future draft picks.  Essentially growing the pool and even trading up in the draft for better prospects.  The trick for BG is to bring those players in and still have a playoff contention team.  All within the constraints of a our Cap.  Thankfully that lets up after 24-25.  Will be one heck of a dance if BG can pull it off.  IBGIT.

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    5 minutes ago, MNCountryLife said:

    With an excess number of players coming in it allows us to trade players away and collect more future draft picks. 

    My hope is to see a draft pick traded to us that is like a 2029 1st rounder for an average player. It's so far out there that maybe a GM would do it figuring he may not be around by then.

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    Sorry. None of what you hope for makes any hockey sense from either the on ice, or business side. The simple fact is these three have gone from being over priced placeholders to over priced talent blockers. These types of contracts get coaches and GMs fired. And top talent wanting out. Yikes!! I can already see the horror in Kalisha's eyes watching our geriatric team chase Bedard are Xcel energy center the next four years. Oh the humanity.

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