An Early Look at the Off Season

So I got to thinking today.  The Wild are going to have a big off season in front of them.  They have a huge number of free agents coming up and this will be as good of a chance as any for Fletcher to start shaping the team in his image, so I decided to take a look forward at the off season because, quite frankly, taking a look at the last week or so is just too dang depressing.  So, without any further adieu, here’s how the team will look minus all of their free agents. 

Forwards
Martin Havlat ($5M)
Pierre-Marc Bouchard ($4.08M)
Mikko Koivu ($3.25M)
Chuck Kobasew ($2.33M)
Andrew Brunette ($2.33M)
Antti Miettinen ($2.33M)
Kyle Brodziak ($1.15M)
Cap Hit: $20.47M 

Defense
Brent Burns ($3.55M)
Nick Schultz ($3.5M)
Greg Zanon ($1.93M)
Cap Hit: $8.98M 

Goaltenders
Niklas Backstrom ($6M)
Cap Hit: $6M 

Total Cap Hit: $35.68M

Here are our impending free agents and what they made this season: 

Forwards (NHL)
Owen Nolan ($2.75M)
Eric Belanger ($1.75M)
Petr Sykora ($1.6M)
James Sheppard ($1.4M)*
Derek Boogaard ($875K)
Guillaume Latendresse ($803K)*
Cal Clutterbuck ($726K)*
Andrew Ebbett ($500K)* 

Forwards (AHL/Junior)
Morten Madsen ($850K)*
Petr Kalus ($822K)*
Danny Irmen ($708K)*
Andy Hilbert ($650K)
Nathan Smith ($550K)
Robbie Earl ($550K)
Matt Kassian ($525K)* 

Defense (NHL)
Kim Johnsson ($4.85M)
Marek Zidlicky ($3.35M)
Shane Hnidy ($750K)
Clayton Stoner ($665K)
John Scott ($550K)

Defense (AHL/Junior)
Jaime Sifers ($650K)
Ryan Lannon ($525K)*
Brandon Rogers ($513K)* 

Goaltenders (NHL)
Josh Harding ($1.1M)* 

Goaltenders (AHL/Junior)
Anton Khudobin ($587K)*
Barry Brust ($550K) 

* denotes Restricted Free Agent 

So the way I look at it, we’ll have approximately seven forward spots, six defensive spots and one goalie spot on our NHL roster open.  Of our impending unrestricted free agents at forward, honestly, unless Nolan gives us an amazing deal, I don’t resign a one of them.  While Nolan is good and has been extremely important to this team, he isn’t work $2.75M of cap space.  We can find someone who does the same for cheaper, pretty much.  That said, he might take a discount because the odds are that he’ll get more to play here than he would elsewhere. 

As far as Belanger is concerned, we can find someone who can do what he does for cheaper, especially if he continues to have as strong of a season as he is having.  Sykora was always intended as a one-year player for us, I think, and Boogaard…Well…You know my feelings on Boogaard. 

For our impending defensive unrestricted free agents, I would let Johnsson, Zidlicky, Hnidy and Scott walk.  While there isn’t a huge wealth of talent on the blueline in this off season’s free agent crop, we can replace them for likely cheaper than what we could keep them for and Stoner has proven that he deserves at least a one-year, one-way contract to prove himself for a full season in the NHL. 

As far as our restricted free agents, at forward, there’s no doubt that we have got to resign Latendresse, Clutterbuck and Ebbett.  All three have been invaluable to our team this season and deserve to stay with modest bumps in pay.  Sheppard is somewhat of an enigma.  You can see that the talent is there, but it’s just not firing in his brain.  The problem with keeping Sheppard around is that, in order to keep him, we have to give him at least a 15% bump in pay (qualifying offer).  That would leave his minimum contract at $1.6M…Is that too high a price to pay for a player that we’re not sure can develop?  If he comes out of his shell, he could be a bargain. 

Goaltending, I say let Harding walk.  We can find a better back up for cheaper, quite honestly…But I don’t think it’ll come to that as I think he’ll be moved before the end of the season. 

Of our minor leaguers, Kassian stays, in my opinion, and could find himself as our enforcer next season.  Madsen and Kalus will both be gone.  Irmen will probably stick around, as we’ve grown attached to him, and Earl might get a consistent shot at the big squad.  For defense, I don’t see a problem signing any of the three and for goaltenders, I believe that both get signed as well. 

So, here’s the scenario IF everything goes the way that I outlined it.  Salaries for RFAs are estimated to what I would offer them were I in Fletcher’s shoes. 

Forwards
Martin Havlat ($5M)
Pierre-Marc Bouchard ($4.08M)
Mikko Koivu ($3.25M)
Chuck Kobasew ($2.33M)
Andrew Brunette ($2.33M)
Antti Miettinen ($2.33M)
Cal Clutterbuck ($1.25M)
Guillaume Latendresse ($1.25M)
Kyle Brodziak ($1.15M)
Andrew Ebbett ($675K)
Cap Hit: $26.645M 

Defense
Brent Burns ($3.55M)
Nick Schultz ($3.5M)
Greg Zanon ($1.93M)
Clayton Stoner ($750K)
Cap Hit: $9.73 

Goaltenders
Niklas Backstrom ($6M)
Cap Hit: $6M 

Total Cap Hit: $42.375M
Estimated Salary Cap for Next Season: $56M
 

I estimated the Salary Cap for next season to drop from $56.8M to $56M; however, it sounds like it could potentially drop more than that as well.  But, for argument’s sake, we’ll just go with $56M.

So that’s what we could be looking at for next season.  Our main needs look to be a finisher up front and a solid puck-moving defenseman, as well as a backup goalie.  With that in mind, my next post will be looking at the potential free agents that the Wild could target.

Until then…Keep sending in your mailbag questions for me!

Comments

2 Responses to “An Early Look at the Off Season”
  1. minnesotagirl71 says:

    Thanks for laying out all of this info. I’m glad you think we should keep Clutterbuck and Latendresse – those two definitely bring a certain fire to the ice. (What a STEAL Latendresse was!! I struggle to believe Montreal gave him up for Pouliot.)

    I’d really like to see how this year’s team would perform with a healthy Bouchard. I think his ability to score and create scoring chances would have made this a very different season.

    I’d also like to see if Burns will adjust to the new style. Everyone’s saying he’s a defenseman that is made for this style – but since he’s barely played, it’s hard to know for sure. I hope this statement will not apply to him, too “You can see that the talent is there, but it’s just not firing in his brain.” Will he take too many risks and end up giving the other team some breakaway opportunities?

    Thanks for NOT talking about the last week and thanks for bringing this up now. I get attached to my favorite players and now I have to time to process that they might be gone next season.

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