Free agency is here. And man, was this a wild weekend (no pun intended).
The names we heard heading into the weekend quickly faded, and a pair of new faces are set to don the Iron Range Red and Forest Green.
Who they got
Mats Zuccarello, LW, five years, $6 million AAV
The long-time New York Ranger was traded to the Dallas Stars at last year’s deadline. The perennial 50 point scorer had a goal and an assist in his Stars’ debut before breaking his arm blocking a shot, costing him most of the rest of the regular season. Zuccarello did return for the postseason, tallying four goals and seven assists in the playoffs against Nashville and St. Louis.
Zuccarello was beloved in New York, both on and off the ice. He’s a “spark plug,” generating plays in the offensive zone with his passing, and the defensive zone with his tenacity and his ability to create turnovers. He’ll also be 32 when the season starts in October.
Update: Pierre LeBrun reports that the deal includes a full no-move, including a 10-team no-trade clause in years four and five. So another auto-protect in the Seattle expansion.
Looking very possible that the #mnwild will sign Mats Zuccarello tomorrow to a long-term contract. Here’s my story from last night on the former #nyr and #dallasstars winger and highest scoring Norwegian in NHL history >>> https://t.co/1l2t9eZNJM— Michael Russo (@RussoHockey) June 30, 2019
Ryan Hartman RW, two years, $1.9 million AAV
*ATTENTION - THIS IS NOT A DRILL - THE WILD HAVE ACQUIRED A RIGHT-HANDED PLAYER*
Yes, you read that right. The right-handed Ryan Hartman is set to agree to a two-year deal with the Wild.
Hartman, according to Russo, is “an effective bottom-six, hard-nosed, agitating forward”, which is a role on this team that has been unfulfilled since the days of Cal Clutterbuck.
But perhaps more interesting than his spot on the depth chart or his 20-goal, 30-point ceiling, is how Hartman spent the offseason. Traded to Philadelphia at last year’s deadline, Hartman, a RFA, believed he’d receive a qualifying offer from the Flyers. So much so, that he blissfully went off to the far reaches of Canada on a fishing trip.
Heading off the grid till next Saturday... if you need me... leave me a voicemail ✌ world pic.twitter.com/6Megt1CTdC— Ryan Hartman (@RHartzy18) June 21, 2019
Off the grid, he missed the fact that not only didn’t the Flyers qualify him, they traded him to Dallas, who ALSO didn’t qualify him. It was only later that he got in contact with his agent via satellite phone when he was brought up to speed.
Luke Johnson, C, two years (two-way), $700,000 AAV
The 24-year-old center native of Grand Forks was drafted by Chicago out of UND in 2013 in the fifth round. Played 15 games with the Blackhawks and earned a single assist. Iowa depth signing.
#mnwild sign former UND center Luke Johnson to a two-year, two-way contract. Has played some games with the #blackhawks— Michael Russo (@RussoHockey) July 1, 2019
Gabriel Dumont, C, two years (two-way), $700,000 AAV
The 28-year-old right-handed center has four goals and nine points in 87 career games with three teams (Canadians, Lightning, Senators). Had 43 points in 59 games with Syracuse of the AHL in 2018-19.
Who they missed
Joe Pavelski to the Dallas Stars, three years, $7 million AAV
Wayne Simmonds to the New Jersey Devils, one year, $5 million
Anders Lee, re-signed by the New York Islanders, seven years, $7 million AAV
The writing was on the wall when Pavelski decided not to make the Wild one of the teams that he was willing to visit on his free agency tour. The Stars were one of those teams, and picked up the soon-to-be 35 year-old right-handed center.
The Wild were likely out on Simmonds when they signed Zuccarello. The soon-to-be 31-year-old RW landed with the Devils for a year.
Update: As for Lee, Russo reports that the Isles have kept their captain in Long Island for seven years at $7 million AAV, having missed out on Artemi Panerin (signed with the Rangers @ 7/$11.6 mil).
Anders Lee gets $7 million AAV on a 7-year deal with the #isles— Michael Russo (@RussoHockey) July 1, 2019
Nate Prosser, D, to the Philadelphia Flyers, two year (two-way), $700,000
Andrew Hammond, G, to the Buffalo Sabres, one year, $700,000
What do you think of the moves Minnesota made? Who would you have liked to see in a Wild uniform? Discuss below!