Good Afternoon Wilderness... The NHL season is almost upon us. The Wild currently have some of their prospects playing in a prospects tourney, which is being held in Traverse City, Michigan. Based on their play last season, expectations are building for the 2013-14 version of the Minnesota Wild.
While the current temperature isn't real conducive with making ice or for even playing hockey, there are only about 10 days left until the Wild host the Columbus Blue Jackets in their first exhibition matchup. Soon, 80-degree days will turn into weather more conducive for hockey.
So, none-the-less, the season is upon us. Soon, we can finally be able to start talking about actual hockey games.
Over the past couple of weeks, I have been talking about possible future free agents that the Wild could possibly make a run at (here, here and here); and maybe, possibly sign one of these highly sought-after free agents to improve the Minnesota Wild. These posts have facilitated a lot of discussion.
It has been my opinion, that the Minnesota Wild are "very" close to being a very good hockey team for a very long time, based on the make-up of their current roster and the young players that the Wild have in their farm system. I don't think it's a stretch to say that they "could" be a Stanley Cup contender with the right mix of players. A top player like Phil Kessel or Thomas Vanek could put the Minnesota Wild over the top and bring them to the next level.
As I mentioned in a previous article, Elliotte Friedman of CBC Sports has said, that the NHL's salary cap "could" be rising to $80 million in the next four years. That news puts me in an upbeat mood. Upon reading that, I was thinking that Minnesota Wild fans should be dreaming big.
First off, I want it to be known that I am not trying to suck up to the Gophers fans from the State of hockey. If you have been reading my articles the past few weeks, people are going to think that I have lost my mind. I own it; sure, I have suggested that the Minnesota Wild attempt to sign former Minnesota Golden Gopher forwards Thomas Vanek and Phil Kessel. Mea Culpa! That being said, I do appreciate the former college hockey players bring to the NHL game. Having covered college hockey for the past two years as member of the credentialed blogosphere, I have had the opportunity to cover and meet some great college hockey players. Personally, I don't care what team they played for in college.
Keeping with the current theme - former Golden Gopher defenseman Paul Martin is going to be a free agent after the 2014-15 season. I think he's a free agent defenseman that could help the Minnesota Wild's back end.
Paul Martin has played nine years in the NHL, and has scored (37g-200a-237pts) in 584 NHL games. Martin has also scored (5g-25a-30pts) in 67 Stanley Cup Playoff games. Martin brings a veteran presence to the blue line and pretty decent numbers offensively. Martin is currently second on the Pittsburgh Penguins depth chart for defenseman.
But I digress.
With Martin's connections to the state of hockey, there could be the possibility he might want to come home and play in front of the home town fans. At least to me, Martin seems like a logical selection. Feel free to tell me why he would not be.
For some reason, NHL fans want to point to age immediately. Okay, Martin's not a spring chicken, sure, he will be 34 in March of 2015, but there's a slight chance that he "might not" command an outlandish, huge free agent deal to pry him away from the Penguins. Martin is currently in the fourth year of a five-year deal that is paying him five million a year. Comparing his stats to Wild Defenseman Ryan Sutter (42g-228a-270) in 590 games, Martin would probably be second or third on the Wild's defensive depth chart.
I don't think that it hurts to dream. There's an old saying, life stops when you stop dreaming, hope ends when you stop believing. I am always dreaming about ways to make the Wild a better team. Feel free to give your input and feedback.