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

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 (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..........

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