To follow along with all of the 2010 NHL Free Agency chatter from around SBNation, check out our 2010 NHL Free Agency Hub (catchy name, huh?)
Matt Cullen was the talk of Saint Paul around the trade deadline, with Carolina making no secret that they were shopping him. Thought to be a good fit here in Minnesota by everyone from Buddha's daughter to Russo, Cullen is a native Minnesotan, and 33 years old, is still a viable solution. When he was traded to the Senators, there was palpable disappointment around the Wild fan base. Come July 1st, things will heat up again.
Anyone in for a 48 point center with a 58.7 FOW% the last 21 games of the year (he had 49.1% in Carolina)? Anyone in for a center who managed an even +/- on a terrible Carolina team before finishing the season at -7 with a not much better Ottawa team?
Make the jump and let's take a look at what the minds of Hockey Wilderness think. Let us know what you think in the comment section.
|2009 - Matt Cullen||81||16||32||48||-7||34||2||2||2||0||195||8.2|
Current Cap Hit: $2.875 million
Nathan: He's not a top-line center, and I'd rather save my money and blow it on a first line guy. Cullen doesn't seem to me to be a improvement over someone like Andrew Ebbett, Kyle Brodziak, Casey Wellman, Cody Almond or Pierre-Marc Bouchard (aside from not having mushy-head), let alone a Tomas Plekanec. I wouldn't bring Cullen in, and it has nothing to do with him being a St. Cloud State Husky. I swear. Really. Ok, maybe a little.
Buddha: The Wild need a second line center. Is Cullen capable of filling that role? That is the only question I keep coming back to. If he isn't the second line center solution, he becomes less and less valuable as the dollar figure goes up. My guess is he was considered the third line center in Ottawa behind Spezza and Fischer, and telling me he was the second line guy in Carolina behind Staal does not add confidence.
That said, Cullen is intriguing to me because he does not seem to be quite as gun shy as most of the players on the Wild. His 195 SOG would have ranked him second on the team this season. Couple that with Havlat's play making abilities and BTE's presence in front of the net, and that could make for an excellent second line at some real value. (This is me being realistic, since I don't think Havalt ends up on a line with Koivu).
There are not a ton of centers on the market, and nearly every team is after a second line guy. I also cannot imagine he wants to take a pay cut at this point in his career. This could end up the perfect storm for Cullen, but could elevate his price to the point the Wild walk away.
Verdict: 3 Years, $3 million per year max, otherwise walk away
JS: 40 points in 60 games with the Canes made him a .66 point per game player which is better than all of our centers this year except for Koivu. For some reason, he slowed down once he got traded to Ottawa, getting only 8 points in 21 games, but he potted 8 points in 6 playoff games, which is pretty sweet. Sure Cullen may be 33 years old right now, but he should be able to crack 50 points over a full season, even though 49 is his career high (in 59 games, which means he could've reached nearly 60). He's got some sweet moves, sweet hands, 39th in the league in faceoffs with 51% (he was 58% with Ottawa though), I think he would be the better choice if we want to prioritize on a high scoring winger, but if we want a better center, it would be Plekanec. I've always liked Cullen, even when he was a Cane (the Canes... ooooh I hate the Canes...)
Verdict: 3 years, 2.5 - 2.75 million per year