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Dog Days of Summer: Wild Look to Sign Remaining RFAs

As I mentioned last week, I think the future is very bright for the Minnesota Wild. I also there’s a lot to be thankful for and I think the Wild can go deep into the NHL playoffs, if they can stay healthy. I also told one of my fellow colleagues from the Hockey Writers that I think the Minnesota Wild can make the Western Conference Finals. I don’t see any reason why this can’t happen.

Doug Pensinger

Good Afternoon Wilderness! Today, I am going to talk briefly about the Wild's two remaining unsigned restricted free agents (Darcy Kuemper and Nino Niederreiter). The Wild have two players to sign and the roster should be complete, unless the Wild go after another defenseman.

Last week, Michael Russo filled in for Paul Allen on KFAN. During the show, Russo interviewed the GM of the Minnesota Wild Chuck Fletcher. There were a couple of things from the interview that caught my eye.

Darcy certainly has great potential and played very well in stretches for us this season, but at the end of the day I think he's played around 30 games in the NHL. Usually this isn't the time to fight for the big contract. We feel Darcy right now is trying to establish himself in the league and once he does that it'll be a little simpler to come up with terms. Our focus right now is just on getting good deals with both of them. If we can get the right deal for the player and for the team, then it'll give us a chance to be competitive. If we spend too much money on players before they're ready to get the money they feel they deserve it impacts a lot of other things down the road. If we can get a deal done tomorrow, great, if it takes even into training camp, it's really not a big deal. We've got great depth, we've got a lots of players. We are going to have to what's right financially to keep this thing moving forward." (Russo's Rants)

This is what concerns me. The Wild have two veteran goalies locked up and neither of them have been able to finish a season recently due to health issues and injuries. Personally, I would like to see the Minnesota Wild trade Niklas Backstrom or unload him and his over priced salary. That’s probably going to be impossible, who's going to want a 36 year old goalie that's coming off a bad season.

Last season, Backstrom was God awful (5-11-2, .899 SV% and a 3.02 GAA). Because of the Wild goalies being unable to finish a season, I believe that Kuemper does have "some" leverage. However, I think Kuemper might be overplaying his hand. That being said, the Wild need to get Kuemper signed and soon, they don't want him to be unsigned when training camp rolls around.  Maybe the Wild will consider a bridge contract for Kuemper. Who knows.

The Wild's again going to be relying on Backstrom and Harding's health to start this season. The Wild says both are healthy and there's no reason to think they won't be ready to perform at the start of camp. But those are just words right now. The Wild has endured goalie health issues basically during Fletcher's entire five-year tenure, so my guess is Kuemper's agent is using that as leverage to try to get a big contract now. We'll see how it all plays out. Fletcher plans to sit down with Harding next week to get a sense of how he is feeling physically and mentally. (Russo's Rants)

Niederreiter is a very important staple of the Minnesota Wilds lineup and will eventually sign. I also think that Nino has a very big upside and will only get better with time. In case you forgot, here's another reason to like this kid. (Click to watch video)

My guess is Niederreiter will eventually sign a two- to four-year deal later this month or in early September. (Russo's Rants)

As I mentioned last week, I think the future is very bright for the Minnesota Wild. I also there’s a lot to be thankful for and I think the Wild can go deep into the NHL playoffs, if they can stay healthy. Are you read for this? I also told one of my fellow colleagues from the Hockey Writers that I think the Minnesota Wild can make the Western Conference Finals this season. I don’t see any reason why this can’t happen. We're free to argue this point if you want.

I think last year was just a preview of the things to come. Adding Thomas Vanek only increased the Wild chances and improved their top-six forward positions.