Before we jump into the free agent class for 2011, and examine if the Wild could, would, or should take a run at any of these guys, we need to get something straight. It is unlikely the Wild make a serious run at any big name free agents, throw crazy money at anyone, or go out looking for anything other than some role players.
That said, the rumblings from Russo are that the Wild may still be working some trades, so something could change. Still, the dream of some Wild fans thinking that Chuck Fletcher is going to go out and sign the top of weak free agency class is unrealistic. I can already read the comments and tweets.
"Chuck Fletcher doesn't want to win, he is ruining this team."
"Craig Leipold is cheap, he should be spending to the cap, period."
Make whatever variation of those quotes you want, but they will remain the same sentiment. The casual Wild fan will not have read the quotes from Fletcher talking about the youth movement, or read any of the posts about the draft and the time frame Fletcher sees for making this team better. They will simply storm in and demand respect for their hockey knowledge, and declare the Wild a dead team.
Thanks for stopping by, Tom.
Make the jump for our first UFA post (with one RFA), in which we group together a handful of player people will ask about, but the Wild will never take a shot at.
#91 / Center / Dallas Stars
May 02, 1980
|2010 - Brad Richards||72||28||49||77||1||24||7||0||3||272|
Current Cap Hit: $7.8 million
JS: Don't even give it a second thought, just be glad he's likely going to the Eastern Conference.
Bryan: This is an absolute non-starter. Richards is the top prize in the 2011 free agent class (showing just how weak it really is), and has only a couple truly productive years left. Some GM is going to over commit and give him a nine year deal to stay inside the Kovalchuk Rule, and pay him $10 million per season for five years knowing he never skates after that. While it would be nice to have him around, the Wild don't need a center, and certainly don't need to sign a center for $7 or 8 million per season.
Verdict: Unless you're high, this isn't even something you need to discuss.
Nathan: Violates the "get younger" mentality. No thanks, not really interested anyway.
Verdict: Never going to happen.
#9 / Left Wing / New Jersey Devils
Jul 28, 1984
Current Cap Hit: $3.125 million
JS: Not gonna happen. Shut up, people.
Bryan: JS is right, it's not going to happen. I'll be a little nicer and explain why. The Devils elected to file for salary arbitration, meaning that Parise is basically signed, they just don't know for how much yet. No offer sheets can be signed, and the only team that is going to sign him can or will be the Devils. If this doesn't get you off the "sign him to an offer sheet" bandwagon, read JS' thoughts.
Nathan: Unfortunately he's never going to get the chance since the Devils filed arbitration. It's too bad. I think their punishment for cheating should be the loss of arbitration rights. I'd like to see the Wild take a shot here.
#12 / Left Wing / Tampa Bay Lightning
Feb 29, 1980
|2010 - Simon Gagne||63||17||23||40||-12||20||7||0||3||154|
Current Cap Hit: $5.25 million
JS: Hoo boy. Do we really need such a big, likely expensive injury risk? The guy can undeniably score, but how many games would he play? Not only that, but he seems to be on the decline. Of the TB games I watched, I scarcely even noticed him. Would he contribute? Probably, but to me, it's too risky.
Bryan: Would love to see Simon Gagne in a Wild sweater. That said, it is an absolute pipe dream to think it is going to happen. The top two lines are already set (barring trades), and Gagne isn't a bottom six player. You want a scoring winger, he's your man, but the Wild aren't headed in the direction of landing the prized free agent. If this were three years from now, and Gagne was available (and still only 31), I would say yes make a run. Right now? Not at all.
Verdict: Would love to see it, but it's not happening.
Nathan: Top six forward, proven point-getter, but can he play in the West? For once it might not matter considering the almost certain realignment after next season. That said, he's older than you would imagine and his numbers are starting to concern me, but this is a bad free agent class.
Verdict: He'll garner too much money.
What say you, Wilderness? Are these guys likely targets? Anyone you'd like to even see in a Wild sweater?