Minnesota Wild Unrestricted Free Agents: Who stays and who goes?

Good afternoon everyone! As part of our end-of-season evaluations (see our grades for the goalies, defensemen, left wings, right wings, centers and team overall) we now move toward the future. No future can begin in this age of sports without looking at the free agents on your team. So, who are our unrestricted free agents (UFAs), what are they worth on the open market, who do we want to keep and whose time in Minnesota has come and gone?

First, let's define a UFA (Thanks to about.com)

Unrestricted NHL Free Agents

  • The 27-or-7 Benchmark

    As of 2008, any player whose contract has expired can declare himself an unrestricted free agent if he is at least 27 years old or has at least seven years of service as an NHL player.

    Between 2005 and 2008, the age of unrestricted free agency declined from 31 to 27. More details here.

     

  • July 1

    The free agency period begins on the first day of July. At that point, an unrestricted free agent is free to negotiate and sign a contract with any NHL team.

     

  • No Compensation

    Teams losing unrestricted free agents do not receive any compensation.

Under the old collective agreement, which expired in 2005, draft picks were awarded as compensation.

When Chuck Fletcher took over the reigns, he made it clear though his actions that no one on the roster is safe. Everyone would earn their spot, and if they did not produce, they would be replaced. Free agency came very early in his tenure last off season, and Fletcher still landed a highly prized winger in Martin Havlat. He was also very close to signing Saku Koivu, if not for the familial issues involved, Koivu likely would have signed here.

Players have been given contract extensions, and those that had value and were not planned to return were traded for assets. THis is a huge change from the past, and Fletcher is only entering his second offseason. Big things could be afoot at the X.

Make the jump. This could get interesting.

Unrestricted Free Agents


Owen Nolan

#11 / Right Wing / Minnesota Wild

6-1

214

Feb 12, 1972


Current Cap Hit: $2.75 million

Nathan: Nothing would make me happier than watching Cowboy lace em up for the Wild until he retires to a lake and spends the rest of his days doing this:

However, that is likely not the case. The Irish God of War deserves another shot, wants another shot and that will not be here with the Wild, no matter how much Fletcher offers him. Imagine if Nolan was a third-liner with Chicago or San Jose. He would provide exactly the kind of leadership on and off the ice that these teams (especially Chicago) need, and would come at a value price around $1.5M. He's going to get that shot to lift Lord Stanley's Cup, and I will be cheering my heart out.

Verdict: Will not return

Buddha: This may be the most painful loss of the offseason for Wild fans. Nolan needs to go somewhere where he gets to play for the Cup. Unless miracles are worked, the Wild will not contend in such a manner next season. As great as it would be to have Cowboy around to help teach the kids, he deserves a shot, and the Wild simply cannot offer that. I think it is a mutal decision to let him find a new home.

Verdict: Will not return

JS: Perennial hard worker and fan favourite. Seeing as he's been Casey Wellman's idol, I think he would have a whole lot of mentoring power over him. Nolan, as a veteran, is one of the best in terms of raw grit and determination and I would love to see him retire as a Wild, but he also deserves a shot at the cup. I'm thinking re-sign him and if we need to, trade him at the trade deadline for a pick

Verdict: Re-sign 1-yr, $1.5 - 2 Million


Derek Boogaard

#24 / Left Wing / Minnesota Wild

6-8

257

Jun 23, 1982


Current Cap hit: $930K

Nathan: Oy, this is actually the hardest one to evaluate. Has the age of the Boogeyman come and gone? According to many experts, Boogaard is feared, but people are unwilling to fight him, and instead are taking advantage of his time on ice, and his +/- shows this. He doesn't score, the Wild don't have anyone to protect who cannot protect themselves (yet), and there are other guys on the roster who can drop the gloves if necessary. All that said, Boogaard can be picked up cheaply, but is he coveted by someone else in the league? We know Richards likes Boogey, even though he still hasn't taken advantage of his size in front of the net, but can that money be better spent somewhere else?

Verdict: Will not return

Buddha: Ah, the Boogeyman. What do you do with the Boogeyman. Fletcher cannot do the right thing here. He can't. It's impossible. Half the fans want him gone due to his inability to do anything other than intimidate, half the fans want him around because of his ability to intimidate. If it were me? Boogey finds a new home. Before you fillet me, it isn't due to the fact that Boogey isn't liked. It has to do with the fact that there are cheaper options out there, and the teams that are contending in the playoffs don;t have a Boogaard type guy on their roster. It's nice having him around, but that is for the fans, not the team.

Now, Todd Richards has made it clear he likes Boogaard's element in the game. So, that trumps anything I may think.

Verdict: Re-signed. 1 year, $1 million.

JS: The bringer of doom. I have to say, if we need to keep either Boogs or Scott, I'm thinking Boogs to leave some space in the D-pool. Besides, Scott would just be the 7th or 8th D-man. Having the reigning heavyweight champ on the team is a fun claim to make too. Like it or not, we need a big guy like him in the lineup to keep other teams in line. Also, who knows? Maybe Fletch can find another miraculous trade involving him, given the other team doesn't screw the order up!

Verdict: Re-sign 2 yrs, $850k per season


Shane Hnidy

#34 / Defenseman / Minnesota Wild

6-2

204

Nov 08, 1975


Current Cap Hit: $750K

Nathan: Hnidy didn't stand out either positively or negatively, which frankly, is the sign of a solid stay-at-home defenseman. However, with the defensive prospects the Wild have, I don't see room for Hnidy on the roster.

Verdict: Will not return.

Buddha: The Sheriff was a perfect defensive defenseman for the Wild last season. He was invisible on the ice. He has no memorable gaffs, and no memorable offensive moments. He simply did his job, and did it well. Not a shut down guy, but not a liability. What more can you ask from a defensman at $750K a year?

That said, the Wild have too many prospects waiting for a chance. There is no way the Wild sign Hnidy given the chance to bring up their young guns.

Verdict: Will not return.

JS:   The insurgence of good, young d-men coming up make him one of the odd men out. He didn't make much of a mark here anyway, but at the same time, he didn't really do anything to make us not like him either. Best of luck to you Sheriff!

Verdict: Will not return.


Andrew Ebbett

#16 / Center / Minnesota Wild

5-9

174

Jan 02, 1983


Current Cap Hit: $487K

Nathan: Andrew Ebbett is a guy people like, as identified by him never clearing waivers. The Wild are still short as hell at center, and with Pierre-Marc Bouchard's future suspect (at best), they will have to keep a strangle-hold on any centers they have in the system.

Verdict: Re-sign 2 yrs, $650k per season

Buddha: What do you do with Ebbett? Well, it all depends on the prospects of Bouchard coming back next season, if Fletcher can find a #2 center, and what role you think he will play. If Bouchard is coming back, and is going to be a center (as was the plan), Ebbett is out. If Fletcher finds a #2 center, Ebbett is likely out. If Ebbett wants to be more than a fourth line checker for little or no raise, he is out.

Ebbett played hard, provided spark, and did everything asked of him. He is also extremely replaceable.

Verdict: Will not return.

JS: Good grab off of waivers, the diminutive forward had a great start with the team before being crushed by Jovocop. If not for injuries, he would've had a good enough season. I think he would be one of the better options for the 4th line if we keep him. I liked his play, but he didn't belong with the Hav-Lats line. All in all, I think he's a keeper. (side note: I can't believe this guy was only a 487,500$ cap hit!)

Verdict: Re-sign 2 yrs, $800k per season


John Scott

#36 / Defenseman / Minnesota Wild

6-8

258

Sep 26, 1982


Current Cap Hit: $550K

Nathan: This might depend upon Boogaard's future. If Boogey is back, Scott is unnecessary. If Boogey is not back, they may keep Scott, even with the abundance of defensemen. After all, who doesn't want to see this?

All that said, I don't see him breaking into the lineup, but he'll catch on somewhere else.

Verdict: Will not return.

Buddha: Big John Scott. The man may never hear his name as John Scott again. Tough, big, solid. Untested, untrusted, unneeded. There is a non-hockey connection here that makes it sad for me to say that Scott won't be back, but Scott won't be back. The only strange twist of fate I can think that returns Scott to Saint Paul is if Boogaard is not signed, and Richards is so desperate for that type of player that he is willing to move Scott to wing. Odds? 500 to 1 against.

Verdict: Will not return.

JS: As I pointed out above, he's a victim of the number of D-men we've got coming. It would be better for him to find a team in need of a hulking d-man who can fight, because he CAN fight, he proved it a couple of times. I actually liked him a lot, but there's no more room for him here.

Verdict: Will not return

Houston Aeros UFAs include: Wade Dubielewicz, Robbie Earl, Danny Irmen, Jamie Siefers, Andy Hilbert, Nathan Smith, Barry Brust, Jon DiSalvatore, Ryan Lannon, Brandon Rogers, Duncan Milroy. Consenus among the writers here at Hockey Wilderness is that odds are none of these guys will return. That said, the Aeros still need to field a team, and some of these guys are solid AHL players. However, it is time for the Wild to bring in some fresh blood.

Odds are 2 to 1 and pick 'em about which of these guys may be back. Count on Dubie not being around due to the promotion of Matthew Hackett. If Harding winds up on another squad, it is likely Borat ends up with the Wild, and Hackett may become the starter in Houston. He would need a back-up, so perhaps Barry Brust gets to return in a limited role.

All of that said, changes are coming to Houston, and the new regime looks to be prospects first, veteran AHLers second.

So, what do you think? Disagree with us? Let us know in comments.

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