Here we are, at the end of our very fast, very short run through the list of potential free agents. While the Wild do not seem likely to make a major splash on July 1st, the NHL is a league of wonders only imaginable in a George Lucas studio. You just never know what a GM is going to do on any given day. Maybe the Wild make some trades at the draft and that opens up new holes in the lineup. Perhaps Bouchard gets nothing but bad news from doctors and decides to simply retire.
The point is, you just never know. The writers of Hockey Wilderness offer some closing thoughts on potential free agents. Make the jump, and let us know how we did.
Nathan: Let's be honest folks, the Wild do not have much room, and this is a weak crop of UFAs. In any other season, Tomas Plekanec would likely be coveted, but Matthew Lombardi would slip to the second group. Frankly, I'd rather see them spend the money on Guillaume Latendresse and a potential trade later in the season and spend the open slots on hungry young guys like Colton Gillies, Cody Almond, Casey Wellman, Marco Scandella, Nate Prosser, Chad Rau, Jean-Michel Daoust, etc.
Now, the RFAs are a different story. Bobby Ryan? Yes please. Devin Setoguchi? You bet! David Perron? Sign me up. Make the offer, make it big and make Anaheim, San Jose and St. Louis ruin their chances to pick up Lombardi or Plekanec. Who knows, maybe you get a guy who would look great on a line with Mikko Koivu or Pierre-Marc Bouchard (knock on wood).
That said, maybe the bank will be broken on Plekanec, or they'll make a long-term offer to Lombardi. If that's the case, I'm ok with that. It'll still allow for competition for the young guys. I just don't want to see a bunch of also-rans and Twins-like moves. Now, yes, I have faith in Chuck Fletcher, and believe that he will do the right thing.
Buddha: Chuck Fletcher has made it clear he is not impressed with the current free agent crop. The Wild do not need a goaltender, they do not need a defenseman, and they do not need third line players. The pickings simply get thinner and thinner when you take into account all of the factors in play. I do not expect the Wild to be active on July 1st, unless there are major changes at the draft. One trade from the deadline mentioned Patrick Sharp coming to the Wild. Can that still be consummated after the playoffs? Do any of the Wild's pending free agents have the value to trade their rights?
Is there even a free agent Fletcher might target? Anyone at all on the list he feels fits the plan for the future?
The overriding point is that the class is thin, and the Wild's needs are great. Trades are necessary, as none of the free agents make the Wild better without crippling them with the cap, save for the scenario of Plekanec coming in should Bouchard not come back.
Too many ifs, not enough solid info. Usually results in a quiet July 1st.
As for RFAs, there are some targets that are tempting to make an offer sheet on, but are they worth the bad blood with other GMS, and are those players worth the loss of draft picks to sign them? Putting Bobby Ryan on a line with Mikko Koivu would be ridiculously unfair to the rest of the league, but at what cost? He likely gets a second contract worth around four million, if the Ducks are smart. If they are really smart, they'll sign him to a bigger, long term deal and save themselves the cash long term.
The problem is, Anahiem matches a $4 million offer sheet before the ink is dry. To land an RFA, a team has to over pay. Likely it would take more like $6 to $6.5 before Anaheim balks at it. Compensation to the Ducks for that level of contract? Two first round picks, a second round and a third round. You think Chuck Fletcher is willing to give that up, plus over pay Ryan? I don't.
JS: Seeing as our biggest needs are a solid 2nd line center and a scoring winger for Koivu, pickings are a little slim as far as FAs are concerned, but there are still a couple of options the Wild should consider if they're still available. Let's suppose PMB doesn't come back and we have around 8.3 million freed up. Let's call Option A the case in which the Wild would opt for a high end 2nd line center and a reasonable winger that can take top line minutes, Option B the case in which the Wild concentrate on a high end 1st line winger and a reasonable 2nd line center, and Option C the case in which the Wild take both a reasonable center and a reasonable winger.
Also, as you may have noticed, I'm not too keen on long term contracts; they can blow up in your face. I ALSO feel that we're all set at defense, if we do get new d-men, it would be prospects or depth...I'm not really going to look at 3rd, 4th liners, because frankly, we already have MORE than enough, so I don't deem it necessary to put much energy into them, I'll leave that to CF. Also keep in mind, in all of my choices, I don't want us to sign too many FAs, maybe one great center, or one great winger, or a good center with a good winger, but the ideal would be for the Wild to keep close to 3 million of unused cap space for a rainy day or for mid-season acquisitions. I still feel most of our changes will come via trade, or in our recently acquired young guns. Anyhoo, I can't wait till the draft and FA period! GO WILD! In Fletch we trust!
Here are a couple of notable RFAs, which I didn't look too much into since the chances of us getting them are rather small:
- Bryan Little: Shifty little center, could be very well suited for a second line role, but only for a couple of years, then it's top line minutes for him. 3 years, 2.5 - 3 million per year
- Peter Mueller: Last season could've been considered an off year, but he played well in COL. 2 years, 2 -2.5 million per year
- Andrew Cogliano: Being in EDM is a curse for him; he could be a great player in the league. 4 years, 2.25 - 2.75 million per year
- Sam Gagner: See above, plus Gagner is absolutely deadly in shootouts. 4 years, 2.5 - 3 million per year
- Tomas Fleischmann: He shows flashes of brilliance, but also flashes of absolute crap. He seems to be progressing each year though. 2 years, 1.75 - 2 million per year
-Wojtek Wolski: Still kind of strange he was traded away, but hey, I guess he didn't fit as well as everyone thought in COL. Could be an interesting acquisition. 2 years, 3.5 million per year
-David Perron: Needs to grow defensively, but he's got loads of talent. 3 years, 2.5 - 3 million per year
-Bobby Ryan: I love seeing this guy play... too bad it's for the Ducks... I think forest green would go well on him. 3 years, 2.5 - 3 million per year
- Devin Setoguchi: He's well on his way towards becoming an absolute beast. 3 years, 2.75 - 3.25 million per year
- Eric Fehr: Wouldn't be too bad, but I wonder if he's cut out for top line minutes. Maybe his limited ice time in WSH is slowing him down? 1 year, 1.5 - 2 million