So, in a surprise move the Oilers did not qualify Ryan Potulny. The question has been raised in many places, does he make sense for our beloved Wild. I believe he does. At 6' and 190 pounds he has decent size, slightly larger than the much sought after Stephen Weiss. He also has been complemented on his good instincts and net presence. The knock on Potulny is that he doesn't have the hands necessary to be a top line center and is perhaps not as fast as you might like. On the other hand, he was one of the few bright spots on an abysmal Oilers squad. Here is what Copper and Blue had to say about the (non)move made by the Oilers:
Ryan Potulny had more goals than every Oiler not named Dustin Penner, Gilbert Brule and Sam Gagner. His qualifying offer would have cost $654,500 and needed to be a one-way deal because he played in more than 60 games in 2009-10. The Oilers, apparently, didn't want to give Potulny a one-way deal.
Since he will hit the market as a free agent, one question is: how inflated an offer will he command? Given the crop of largely 3rd-line and otherwise disappointing centers, it seems likely that he will command around $1.5M to $2M, possibly more depending on the level of desperation and how dumb the GMs in question is. If Fletch could sign him for around $1.5M he would have more cap space than if he signed Cullen.
Finally, here is a brief comparison of numbers: At the age of 25 Potulny netted 32 points (15G, 17A) in 64 games. These numbers are very similar to the numbers that Stephen Weiss had during his first few years. Additionally, Putulny has put up excellent numbers in the AHL. In 2008-09 he posted a tidy 62 points (38G, 24A) in 70 games for the Springfield Falcons. That shows some definite potential. Not to mention that last year was his first full year in the NHL. Potulny hasn't put up NHL numbers as good as Matt Cullen's so he may appear not as good of an investment. Given more time and based on his minor league numbers he would appear to have a lot more upside than Cullen, who is rapidly approaching the twilight of his career.
When compared to the Kyle Brodziak the numbers are nearly identical. Brodziak had 32 points (9G, 23A). However, it is widely recognized by Wild fans that Brodziak was excellent as a checker with Clutterbuck on his wing. His minor league numbers also indicate that he is much more of an energy/forechecker kind of player.
You can also make the argument that Potulny would be better centering better players. If the Wild signed him, he would (in theory) center Tenderness and Havlat. There is no doubt that Potulny is a gamble, but the Wild have no real internal option (assuming no PMB). While there is concern that he was dumped by a quasi-pro team, I think Potulny could turn out to be a steal.