Let's analyse the newest Minnesota Wild players and what they'll bring to the team.
Nino Niederreiter - Acquired from the New York Islanders for Cal Clutterbuck and 2013 third round pick (70th overall; Eamon McAdam): Nino has been a proven goal scorer in every league he played except in the NHL just yet. The way the Isles handled him may have something to do with it.
Niederreiter is expected to become a talented power forward who can make big hits and score goals. Nino completed the 2012-2013 season with 28 goals, 22 assists, 50 points and 230 shots on goal in 74 games with the Bridgeport Sound Tiger.
He still has a lot of upsides and at such a young age, the potential is huge. One important thing to note, his agent, Andy Rufener, is rather special to say the least
Keith Ballard - Free agent via compliance buyout from the Vancouver Canucks: Ballard is a physical defenseman who can occasionally throw the good old hip check. He's also a mobile guy and can move the puck decently.
The Canucks didn't really use full advantage of him when he was playing there. He was repeatedly scratched and only had 16 points in 148 games in Vancouver.
With a fresh start and playing in his home state, Ballard's confidence level should be higher than ever. Here's the hoping he'll stabilize Clayton Stoner, if he plays with him. That remains a strong possibility.
Matt Cooke - Free agent: Where to start? This signing has definitely been the most controversial one in years from a fan's perspective. Although, Cooke can score shorthanded goals (14 career SH goals). He has some skills, too.
Cooke will most certainly replace Cal Clutterbuck on the third line having a similar role. Plus, he'll likely play on the PK. The Wild needed to find a way to improve their PK especially going into the Central Division (or Conference III for the lovers) and they did it with that signing.
Like him or hate him, he has done an effective job with the Pittsburgh Penguins. His very questionable plays in the past gave him a brutal reputation around the league, but let's wait and see how he's going to act here.
Jonathon Blum - Free agent: Really a no-risk signing (one year; $650k cap hit) and possibly high reward. That remains to be seen. However, Blum will have to go through waivers if he doesn't make the team.
Blum would make a decent job on the third pairing. Problem is, the Wild have already Keith Ballard, Clayton Stoner and Nate Prosser who might all compete for that job as well.
One question remains: Can Blum become a potential Nate Prosser replacement if he makes the team? We'll find out after the camp.
There's nothing to panic about this signing. You'll probably never get to see him play unless you watch the Iowa Wild, of course.
Overall, the Wild did improve from last season. It'll be interesting to see if any of these new players will have a major impact next season.