It’s the beginning of a new era for your favorite hockey team. Hopefully.
This past week the Minnesota Wild finally resigned goaltender Devan Dubnyk. Although this signing now gives the Wild the same headache of a year ago with 3 goaltenders on the roster (Dubnyk, Backstrom and Kuemper) it does provide them with something it has failed to have for almost the entirety of the franchise’s existence: stability at the goaltender position.
The Wild are still hoping that Niklas Backstrom, who is having offseason surgery, will be cleared to “play” soon so that they can buyout his contract for salary cap relief. The likelihood of this happening, considering the Wild’s previous luck, is somewhere between slim and a cold day in hell.
With Dubynk and the Wild agreeing to a 6 year $25 million contract the team has a little north of $8 million left in under that cap. $3 million is expected to go to Restricted Free Agent Mikael Granlund. With players such as Huala and Stewart yet to be resigned as well I would expect the Wild to be relatively quiet in free agency this year. Any move the team makes will probably be a through trade. Hopefully someone will be convinced that Backstrom and his horrible contract is worth bringing in. Rumor is that his agent has been talking to teams to see if anyone is willing to give the goaltender a one year contract. If they find someone willing to do it and the Wild play it right they may be able to get something for him.
Last week the Wild also won the Mike Reilly bidding war, practically guaranteeing that the young former Gopher blue liner will wear a Wild sweater. It won’t be official until Wednesday when free agency officially opens but it will give the Wild another young defensemen with a lot of talent. Reilly will be given every opportunity in training camp to make the team going into next season. He could be a fifth or sixth defensemen in his first year of professional hockey. Next year, we could see defense pairings of Suter/Brodin, Spurgeon/Scandella, Dumba/Reilly with Leopold being the extra (if resigned). That may be the most depth the team has ever had on the defensive end.
All in all, the Wild have put pieces in place to be a contender next season. Hopefully the Backstrom kerfuffle works out, and it’ll be interesting to see if the team makes any moves in the offseason.
Peter Ripka is the co-host of the Rambling On podcast. He's a blogger and analyst who specializes in sports, particularly hockey and baseball. Reach him via email or find him on Facebook and Twitter.