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  • Wilderness Walk: Draft Just Days Away

    Image courtesy of © Eric Bolte-USA TODAY Sports
    Thomas Williams

    That's Wild

    • The 2023 NHL Entry Draft is just over a week away, with the first round happening next Wednesday and rounds two through seven the following day. We got you covered with some players that the Minnesota Wild could be taking. For instance, one is Russian defenseman Mikhail Gulyayev who have profiled statistically similar to Quinn Hughes. [Hockey Wilderness]
    • Matthew Tkachuk was something else in the playoffs. His team didn't end up winning, but Matt Boldy can go ahead and look at what that older winger was able to do in all three zones for the postseason. [Hockey Wilderness]
    • Minnesota men's sports plainly sucks. Of all the major teams, the Wild's lack of success is most perplexing. [StarTribune]

    Off the trail...

    • Even before he has been drafted (to the Chicago Blackhawks) Connor Bedard is earning international acclaim after earning the IIHF's male player of the year award. [NBC Sports]
    • We are all aware of what time of the hockey calendar it is. It's the first buyout window of the summer! Some early candidates to get bought out of their contracts include some former champions. [Yahoo Sports]

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    If you're looking forward to the draft like me, it's worth considering some of the options Guerin has to shuffle the roster. Here's an image where you can look at the top UFAs by quality/name recognition. A few are missing like Haula, Nosek, and Soucy who are the players I like for MN. Ekkmann-Larsson has been bought out, so perhaps there's some options yet to come along with RFAs who may not be qualified. I quickly considered the age of the players and their potential costs. The Wild don't appear to have a need for goalies. Beyond that, there appears to be a lot of possibilities. I like Barbashev the best along with Graves as huge upgrade over Merrill or Goligoski that the Wild could likely afford to add size and offense on the back end. How about Killorn instead of Foligno? Should the Wild try to keep NyQvuisst? Will Brackett take Edstrom and go full elite Swede again? Fun questions.

    I believe the Wild could sign Graves and Nosek and possibly keep Dumba. That would make the defense really good. Balance and added center depth for young players to be insulated. Then if the Wild could trade Zuccarello for Boeser or another type of upgrade to the scoring wingers. I really like the options GMBG has to get some good size on defense with good +/- guys. Also, the teams like Vancouver or Detroit who are looking to move or add quality might be good partners to facilitate win-wins. A Boeser addition, or Addison to the Wings for another 2nd rounder around 40th would be sweet, especially if the Wild picked up a bigger young D-man...


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    P.S. I doubt the Wild look at bringing back guys like Zucker or Klingberg. J.Staal might not wanna come to MN where Guerin shit-canned his Bro. Injury-prone or money would probably disqualify most of the guys at the top of the list but I suppose anything is possible. I wouldn't wanna go big after O'Rielly even though he's still got some rubber on the tires. That seems too unrealistic given the price and history with STL. Seems unlikely MN would be a landing spot. Same with Pavelski. Still very productive player but age and landing on his head all the time is my main apprehension on him. There's green next to the players I see as viable options based on the Wild's current needs and who could fill a hole of there was a trade or internal prospects weren't a solution.

    I also really like Howden who's an RFA from Vegas. Maybe that's a trade worth trying to pull off and futures would be worth giving up to upgrade. Let's say Detroit would trade 42nd overall for Addison. Use that pick and trade 53rd and a 2024 2nd for Howden.

    I'm hopeful this Summer with the cap projections and teams restructuring there will be some movement and big deals happening. Zuccarello for Boeser would be perfect or perhaps Foligno to ARI for 70th or 72nd overall? The Wild could shed or shuffle some cap to sign guys for similar roles. Then keep Reaves at the league minimum and put him in the PR videos and save 2.5M. 

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