Good Afternoon Wilderness... I am always dreaming about ways that the Wild could improve. I, like many Wild fans, want to see Lord Stanley's Cup come to Minnesota. I think it's long overdue. The State of Hockey is ready for a Stanley Cup championship.
As most of you know, the Minnesota Wild were offensively starved this past season. I don't think it is a stretch to say, that they were in dire need of secondary scoring, and they didn't get it. A few high-end players could put the Wild over the top and in contention for a Stanley Cup.
The Minnesota Wild are in need of players with offensive prowess and imagination. There are many options out there to help the Wild get more offensive. Over the course of the next few weeks, I will explore a few of these options that are available to the Minnesota Wild.
Also, being huge fan of college hockey, I want to see more former college hockey players playing in the State of Hockey. Obviously, I have a list of players that I would like to see the Wild add to the roster.
Last week on the Hockey Wilderness, I talked about the possibility of the NHL's salary cap moving to $80 million dollars, over the next four years. If the salary cap expands, this is going to open the wallets of NHL hockey teams even more. This will allow teams to add additional expensive cogs to their team's rosters.
One of the big-time free agents that's going to be available, is former Golden Gopher and current Toronto Maple Leafs forward Phil Kessel. Before you outright dismiss this idea, there's a chance that Toronto might be willing to let Kessel walk at the end of 2014 season. I am just throwing it out there, I wonder if the Wild management would consider taking a run at Kessel?
A dynamic player like Kessel might fit well in the Wild's offense system; he could give the offensive the spark that the Wild are begging for. Kessel would definitely open up space for other players in the Wild's top-six forward positions. Imagine if the Wild lineup included Zach Parise, Jason Pominville, Thomas Vanek, Phil Kessel, Mikko Koivu. You would be talking about a lineup that would be highly explosive. Add in younger players like Mikael Granlund, Jason Zucker and Charlie Coyle. I am chomping at the bit with anticipation of what could be. Again, I am just dreaming right now.
Currently, Kessel is in the last year of a five-year deal that is paying him $ 5.4 million dollars a year. Based on his play during the last three seasons, you have to think that he's going to be worth a bit more. I am betting, he's going to command $6-7 million like Thomas Vanek will.
The reason the Leafs might be ready to part with Kessel is, they might not have a lot of salary cap room left. Here's the deal, the Toronto Maple Leafs have $19.5 million committed annually in David Clarkson, Tyler Bozak, James van Riemsdyk and Joffrey Lupul, until the 2018 season. This season, the Leafs still have to sign Nazem Kadri as well. Now, Kessel is on record as saying that he would like to stay in Toronto, that could change.
"Phil (Kessel) is still a really young man," Arnott told the SportsNet Fan590. "He really enjoys living in Toronto and playing for the Toronto Maple Leafs.
"This young man lives and breathes hockey. He was very excited to come here four years ago. I think if you asked Phil today, he'd love to finish his career here in Toronto. But it's still young in his career right now."
So, anything could be possible. Again, with the salary cap possibly moving to $80 million dollars, there could be a lot of money being thrown around. Winners have to dream big. Why shouldn't the Wild be in the mix for some of these high-end players? As I mentioned last week, with an expanded salary cap, that will give the Wild a little more latitude to shoot for some extra help.