Assistant general manager for the Nashville Predators, Paul Fenton, is in town to interview for the Wild’s general manager position. By all reports (which you can find linked below), Fenton is the frontrunner for the position. I’m unhappy reading that.
It’s not because I don’t think Fenton is a good candidate. He helped shape a Predators squad that was in the Stanley Cup Final last year and looks like it could be again this year (if they can solve the Winnipeg Jets in the second round). Nashville is a real contender and a team that has been able to make some big moves in recent years that have helped that come to pass. Not only were they able to go out and secure Ryan Johansen by trading Seth Jones, but they also swapped Shea Weber for P.K. Subban. In the first case, it was a good trade for both teams, trading from positions of relative depth and strength to acquire a player that fit a serious area of need. In the second, the Predators took advantage of the often toxic environment in Montreal to upgrade (at least in terms of age, although arguably skill set too) their #1 defenseman. Fenton playing a role in those moves and learning from those experiences should make him a frontrunner.
I don’t like that there’s a frontrunner at all. It decreases the likelihood of getting other serious candidates interested in interviewing for the gig in Minnesota. Why bother if it is already pretty clear that team owner Craig Leipold likes Fenton for the job? While Fenton may be good or even great, it’s less likely Leipold is going to find a pleasant surprise in another candidate now. That’s a self-inflicted problem for a franchise that is already struggling with salary cap issues, team age , a possible team chemistry problem, and a thin prospect pipeline. It’ll probably be a minor one in the grand scheme of things, but I still don’t like seeing it.