Thursday, June 25, 2015

Minnesota Wild and those players who are free agents…who should the Wild let walk?

My last blog post was about the three free agents the Wild should focus on re-signing. This post is going to be about the three players who are due to become free agents on July 1st that the Wild should let go.

**Disclaimer: I am not going to include goalie Josh Harding in this list. His current contract with the Wild is up on June 30th and there are rumors that he is going to announce his retirement.**

Here is my list of the three players the Wild should let go.

#1. Nate Prosser

I have never really been impressed with Nate Prosser to begin with. In my opinion, Prosser commits a lot of turn-overs in the defensive one and he seems to be an easy target to be hit. The only thing I may consider a positive is that his effort on the penalty kill unit has somewhat improved, but that's about it. 

Last year, he signed a one year deal with St. Louis—only to be put on waivers after the preseason and picked up by the Wild. 

Joseph Gunther wrote this on Prosser on examiner.com:

Prosser has had a mercurial career that includes plenty of highs and lows. He only has five goals and 23 assists while posting a minus-10 rating in 189 career games, but is one of the more physical defensemen on the team. One of the more interesting stats in Prosser’s career is that 60 percent of his goals have been game-winner’s, including back-to-back games during the 2013-14 season.(link to article is here)

With Ryan Suter, Jonas Brodin, Jared Spurgeon, Matt Dumba, and Marco Scandella locked in for five spots on defense, there is only one spot left. There are players in Iowa such as Gustav Olofsson (who missed all of this past season with a shoulder injury) and Guillaume Gelinas that Yeo and Fletcher may look at to be in consideration for that final defensive spot. Christian Folin could also be in the mix, but he is a restricted free agent and the Wild need to figure out the goaltending situation first (working on signing Dubnyk has been a priority for the Wild).


If the Wild should make the offer to Prosser, it needs to be a short term, two-way deal. However, if it were up to me to make the decision, I would let the Elk River, MN native find a new team. 

#2. Sean Bergenheim
Before Bergenheim was acquired from Florida in a trade in February, he was scratched for six straight games before being traded and playing in his first game with the Wild. The Wild traded a draft pick for him because the Wild, at the time, were dealing with several injured forwards.

He is a physical forward and he should have been a good fit on the fourth line and on the penalty kill unit.  However, he really didn’t produce much and it seemed to me like he took a while to get acclimated to the Wild. In 17 games with the Wild, Bergenheim had one goal, one assist (along with 6 PIM and a -6 rating). Before joining the Wild, Bergenheim had 8 goals, 18 assists in 39 games played with Florida.

One thing that worked against Bergenheim is that once those injured forwards started getting healthy, there wasn’t room for Bergenheim in the lineup and he found himself being scratched for a few games. When he did play, he did play well defensively and got into those battles along the boards—which the Wild needed.

Injuries have also been an issue with Bergenheim. Actually, he’s never played a full season in the NHL and has played more than 70 games twice in his career. That is something the Wild should take into consideration.

Since the Wild did place Matt Cooke on waivers and are buying out the last year of his contract, Bergenheim could have a chance at signing a new deal with the Wild. But, can the Wild afford to give a contract to a player that hasn’t played a full season? Time will tell. He made $2.7 million this past season, I don’t think the Wild are going to have the cap space for him.

I think the best thing is to let him sign with another team.


#3. Kyle Brodziak

This one is a tough one for me. Kyle Brodziak doesn’t light the lamp a whole lot. When he does, it’s usually by surprise (for me, anyway). However, Brodziak has been very valuable on the Wild’s penalty kill and defensively. 

Jason Gunther wrote this about Brodziak:

“Despite the lack of offensive production over the last three seasons, Brodziak has been a valuable member of the Wild’s lineup. He is very good on draws as well as penalty killing and defensive responsibility. He is the perfect fourth line center. When in an emergency, he can move up the lineup to help, but can be a shutdown player against the opposition’s top line.(link to article is here)

Brodziak played some very tough minutes this past season. He’s been the center of the fourth line that has had to go up against some very good competition this past season.

This is what was written about him on hockeywilderness.com (by @the_noogie on Twitter):

His job is to keep the opponents top lines from putting points on the board, and this upcoming season that is exactly how he should be judged. He's not an offensive juggernaut, with the right line mates though he is as valuable a defensive forward the Wild have on the roster.(the link to @the_noogie's post is here)

General Manager Chuck Fletcher has a very tough decision to make when it comes to Brodziak. He made about $3 million last year and with the $12 million in cap space the Wild have, the Wild may not have the cap space to be able to re-sign him at the money he may be looking for. 

This one is a tough one and right now, I'm still undecided on whether or not the Wild should re-sign him. 


Free agency begins at 12 pm ET on July 1 and it's going to be an interesting free agency period for the Wild and Chuck Fletcher..........



Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Minnesota Wild and those players who are free agents…who to re-sign?

Hockey season’s over. The draft is around the corner (actually, the NHL Draft is this weekend). However, the free-agency period starts on July 1st and the Wild have some decisions to make on some of their players who are eligible for free agency.

As of today, the Wild have about $12 million in salary cap space for seven roster spots.

So, who should the Wild look at re-signing? Here is my top-three list of the players the Wild should re-sign:

#1. Devan Dubnyk

Devan Dubnyk has made it clear that he loves it here in Minnesota and he wants to remain with the Minnesota Wild. We all know about the miraculous run the Wild had after he was acquired back in January.

The reason why I am saying that Dubnyk should be re-signed is because of the goaltending mess before Dubnyk arrived with Backstrom and Kuemper. As of right now, I don’t see Backstrom playing again in a Wild sweater (he had elbow surgery in the off season and that affects the Wild’s ability to buy him out of the last year on his contract). Kuemper did have a good start to the 2014-15 season (opening the season with back-to-back shut outs against Colorado), but his inconsistency reared its ugly head and he failed big-time when he was given the chance to take over as the Wild’s top goaltender. In addition, there is speculation that Josh Harding is going to retire. (Harding did not play a single game in a Wild uniform this past season and it was the last year of his contract).

All I am going to say on the contract talks is that both sides are talking this week.

**Update** Dubnyk was awarded the 2014-15 Masterton Trophy at the NHL awards. He is the second Wild player in three years to be awarded the Masterton Trophy (named for the late Minnesota North Star Bill Masterton). Josh Harding was awarded it back in 2013.

#2. Chris Stewart

I know right off the bat here that this isn’t going to sit well with a lot of people, especially with Stewart being a “streaky” player and the questions about his effort and consistency.

The reason why I believe the Wild should make an attempt to re-sign him is that he brought a physical presence to the Wild that they haven’t had in a while. He is another free-agent who is hoping to return to the Wild next season.

Mike Yeo said this of Stewart during the play-offs, “He's a guy that has a physical edge. He's a big body. He's going to play the game hard.” The Wild haven’t had that in a while and it was great to see the Wild bring someone like him in, especially because he stands up for his teammates on the ice.

He was hampered by a separated shoulder during the series against Chicago, which he did try to play through before missing games 3 and 4.

However, Stewart could have potential suitors this free-agency period other than the Wild. So, the above mentioned cap space limitations for the Wild could come into play.


#3. Mikael Granlund

I know that Mikael Granlund is a restricted free agent and his name has been mentioned as a possible trade candidate. I think right now that the Wild will re-sign him, and depending how he does during the upcoming 2015-16 season, he could possibly end up being traded—which I know isn’t a popular decision.

From what has been reported, Granlund is only looking for a short-term deal and he will probably get it.

This is what was recently written about Granlund (and some of this is obvious to Wild fans):

 “On the other hand, he is small by NHL standards, doesn’t have elite speed, chooses to pass when he should shoot too often and has missed significant time with several different upper body injuries, most notably at least one concussion. In addition to failing to developing into a No. 1 center through three seasons, it sounds as though his camp will be seeking that kind of money. The Wild don’t have it and need him to prove capable of being a consistent and healthy top center before they can think about giving it to him.”

Granlund needs to prove that he can produce and he can stay healthy before any team will give him a long term deal.


Key NHL Dates (from NHL.com):

June 26-27 NHL Draft, BB&T Center, Sunrise, FL
July 1 Free agency begins at 12 PM ET
July 5 Deadline for player-elected arbitration notification at 5 PM ET
July 6 Deadline for club-elected arbitration notification at 5 PM ET

August 6 Deadline for arbitration decisions to be rendered