There has been a lot of discussion about the Minnesota Wilds 50th, and last available contract. With the Aeros signing Paul Mara to a contract earlier this week, a number of people have wondered if that means forward Nick Palmieri won’t be getting that last spot. If you’re a fan of Palmieri, there are a number of reasons to not panic just yet.
Palmieri, who was part of the deal that sent Zidlicky to the New Jersey Devils, played nine games with the Wild last season. He scored zero points, 2 PIMs and was overall a minus 3. So far in 35 games with the Aeros, Palmieri is plus 9, with 9 goals and 10 assists. According to the stats on theAHL.com, Palmieri has been able to record 72 shots on goal. He has been one of the most consistent players, playing on a line with David McIntyre and Carson McMillian. This line has remained mostly intact all season, although McMillian was replaced briefly with Jarod Palmer due to injury for a few games this season.
There are definitely downsides to Palmieri however. He’s not a Charlie Coyle/Jason Zucker type of player. He wouldn’t be a player that Wild fans would be seeing on a consistent basis. But he a great call-up when the Wild need it, someone throw in the lineup for a few games here and there and cover minor injuries.
There are also a few downsides to having Mara on a two way contract. He didn’t play anywhere last year; not in the NHL, AHL, ECHL, CHL, KHL or any other professional hockey league. Mara is also known for taking a lot of penalties, with a total of 776 in his NHL career. The Wild seem pretty set on the number of guys who can pull penalty minutes on their roster at this point. He has been playing in the ECHL this year, so at least he is in game shape. Coincidentally, Mara has been playing with the Ontario Reign throughout the season with the Wilds own Devin Setoguchi.
Granted, Mara has a lot of NHL experience. According to hockeydb.com, he has played a total of 734 NHL games since suiting up for the Tampa Bay Lightening in the 1998-99 season, with 64 goals and 189 assists for 253 points in that time. Moreover, he is a defensemen, which at this point in time the Wild are on the hunt for. With Marco Scandella’s groin injury and Jonas Brodin’s broken collarbone, the Wild are short a few guys that were locks (almost a lock in Brodin’s case) on the line-up this season.
It will be interesting to see what route the Wild take, especially with Fletcher and Yeo bringing in Dumba for “training camp”. It is entirely possible that the Wild do not sign either to a deal, and keep that 50th spot available for a signing down the road. This may ultimately be in the best interest of the Wild, as it doesn’t force them to trade someone if they want to sign another player. As with most things being crammed into the week before the season starts, only time will tell what the Wild ultimately decide to do.