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Available Free Agents - A Primer

Hey! Look at me! No, really... just look at me. It's what I really want. Attention. Oh, and $11 million per year.
Hey! Look at me! No, really... just look at me. It's what I really want. Attention. Oh, and $11 million per year.

Finding a free agent worth throwing money at is no easy task. With the collective bargaining agreement set up the way it is, most teams are able to re-sign their core players during the season, or before they enter free agency on July 1st. Despite that fact, sometimes, it is just too tempting for a player to go out and see just what the market may bear, ala Marian Gaborik. Couple that with the fact that nearly every report available ranks this as one of the weakest free agent classes in years, and there is not much to pick from.

Using, we find a Unrestricted Free Agent list ripe with a number of big name players, none of which the Wild can afford, see: Ilya Kovlachuk, Patrick Marleau. There are also some big name guys the Wild have absolutely no use for, see: Nicklas Lidstrom, Scott Niedermayer, or Sergei Gonchar.

All of this adds up to the fact that someone out there is going to get overpaid by millions. So. Is there anyone out there that may fit both within the budget and within the needs of the team?

First, the field needs to be whittled down. According to, the Wild have $47,417,776 tied up for next season for 17 players. This leaves $9,890,557 to sign seven players. If you read our free agent posts, you know that Guillaume Latendresse, Josh Harding, and James Sheppard are likely to be signed. A conservative guess puts the total for them around $5.1 million (2.5 for BTE, 1.2 for Harding, and 1.4 for Sheppard).

Added together that puts them at roughly $52.5 million, on a salary cap of $56.8, that leaves 4.3 million for four players. Add to that the fact that no team likes to put themselves too close to the cap due to the fact that you need room for call ups, etc, and the cap picture gets scary very quickly.

Now, none of this takes Bouchard possibly (very possibly) being put right back on LTIR, freeing up another $4.08 million. Let's assume for this exercise he does not return, and the Wild have 8.3 million to sign four players. If, and that's a big if, this ends up the case, you still need to figure out an extension for Mikko Koivu, but we'll leave that out for now and work with what we have in concrete.

Hockey Wilderness will be taking a player-by-player look at free agents we feel could be real targets for the Wild. So don't look for a post about Ilya Kovalchuk, Patrick Marleau, or Vesa Toskala, OK? Likely, those guys get brought up along the way, but the Wild can neither afford them, nor do they "need" them.

Look for posts about guys like Matt Cullen, Thomas Plekanec, Matthew Lombardi, Mike Comrie type players. Players who can help, are available, and could truly fit in under the cap. We'll try to wrap this up quickly, so stay with us, and hold on tight.