It's almost training camp and we are still awaiting to hear the news from Michael Russo that the Minnesota Wild have signed Kirill Kaprizov to a 5-year contract worth $45 million ($9M AAV). So far we haven't heard anything. So my attention is shifting towards training camp. The youngsters are preparing to play the Chicago Balckhawks prospects this week as this will give us a vision where the youngsters are at and the season eventually unfolding. I wrote a while ago about the Wild needing to make cap space and offersheet Elias Pettersson of the Vancouver Canucks. Of course I have received some backlash because of the fact that the team is handcuffed by the buyouts. So my attention shifts to another RFA who is unsigned and is still very young and can fit in with the Wild's current core of Kirill Kaprizov, Kevin Fiala, Joel Eriksson Ek, and Jordan Greenway. They have incoming prospects in Marco Rossi and Matt Boldy as well. Robert Thomas fits in with the direction this team is going and won't cost an arm and a leg to keep him financially neither. So Guerin needs to offersheet Thomas.
Thomas just turned 22 in July. So he still has room to grow his game by the time he enters his prime later in his career. Thomas is 6'0'', 183 pounds. He plays CENTER and wing. He also shoots RIGHT. We need more right shots on this team to even out the handedness of this group. Thomas has a nice combination of speed, power, and playmaking ability. He also can blast the puck, but prefers to make plays because of how well he sees the ice. He has the makings of a top-6 contributing center which is what the Wild need more of. Wouldn't it be nice to STEAL Thomas from division rival Blues???? I'd think so!
Here's video of him in action as this scouting video was wonderfully put together
. We are in need of players who know how to move the puck up the ice and protect the puck to maintain possession. A lot of the times playing against the Vegas Golden Knights Wild forwards were knocked off the puck or couldn't maintain possession. Kaprizov and Fiala were eaten up by Vegas defenders as this Wild team was predictable during the playoffs. What went good for them was defense and goaltending. Offensive depth was non-existent.
Speaking of offensive depth that's what Thomas can provide. Yeah this previous season wasn't a good year, but he did put himself on the map last year with 42 points in 66 games (52 points in 82 games). Also he already has a Cup ring to his name when the Blues won the Cup in 2019. Although he didn't register much points he was still a contributing factor when it mattered the most on defense. He knows what it takes to win a Stanley Cup and he has plenty of good years ahead of him! This is just the beginning for Thomas opposed to someone like Tomas Hertl who's older. Someone like Christain Dvorak was overpaid.
Now let's look into how we can acquire a player like Thomas. The Blues hardly have any cap space to sign him. They are handcuffed badly. They are trying to see if they can move Vladimir Tarasenko to gain cap space to lock up the kid, but it seems the Blues are looking to trade for another top-4 defenseman, involving Tarasenko, as Thomas will still be looking for a team to play for. We need to create a scenario where the Blues can't match Guerin's offersheet like the Carolina Hurricanes did to the Montreal Canadiens to acquire Jesperi Kotkiniemi. While they overpayed for him the Canes just wanted to get him over here. I'd bet his next contract will be a couple million dollars less and that's ok. Thomas is in the same boat. He needs a new contract and a place to play.
How about we make an offersheet for Thomas ranging from $4.5-$5 million for 1 year to see how he fits in with the team? The Canes are experimenting with Kotkiniemi. We should do the same thing with Thomas. He's a puck carrying center who can drive play and make players around him better. He needs to take advantage of his shot because he has a sniper's shot. When you blend that with good vision, power in his edgework, and his passing ability what can go wrong? He can use a change of scenery and a new role. He's buried behind the Blues' top guns. With them signing Brandon Saad in free agency and trading for Pavel Buchnevich where does Thomas slot in? If Tarasenko still isn't moved then Thomas won't be able to play. Let's STEAL Thomas! This isn't even a joke!
So if we offersheet Thomas we'd have to give up a 1st and 3rd rounder to make it happen. I know fans are hesitant to give up a 1st round pick as Judd Brackett's been able to snag up young talent. So far his 1st round picks have been Marco Rossi, Jesper Wallstedt, and Carson Lambos. If anything fans would want Guerin to keep our 1st round pick, but the potential Thomas has is a high-end top-6 power center. You can say Thomas is a 1st round caliber type of player (he was taken 20th overall in 2017). Also our 1st rounders happen to be late in the 1st round where we'll have to wait 2-3 years for our prospect to arrive. I think if we offer him anything less than $4.5 million the Blues will find a way to match it. First we can try offering him a $4 million dollar contract and see what the Blues will do within a week. They'll try their best to make sure Thomas doesn't end up wearing a Wild sweater as they will HATE that, but we'll LOVE it! If we do this then we end up giving up a 2nd round pick to the Blues. He reminds me of Winnipeg Jets' star player Kyle Connor. So he does have star potential. He's also a powerplay quarterback.
When Thomas reaches free agency then Guerin can negociate a new contract that is more affordable as we can re-sign him, Fiala, Greenway, and Kaapo Kahkonen. Or during the middle of the season Guerin can sign him to a contract extentsion and be part of the youth movement who has a Cup to his name! How about we let Thomas blossom? The Blues won't because they already have their core veteran pieces and Thomas looks to be the odd-man out. Guerin here's another opportunity knocking on your door. Jack Eichel isn't coming here and he shouldn't have been your only option. You looked a little bit in Hertl and Dvorak. You don't want to give up prospects and you don't want to give up a 1st round pick for a 3rd line center in Dvorak. So how about taking a chance and taking Thomas who still needs to establish himself?
To MIN: C Robert Thomas (signing him for $4.5M)
To STL: 2023 1st round pick and 2022 3rd round pick (we're keeping our 2022 1st)
Who do the Wild need to move to make room for Kaprizov's contract?
Cap space A: $13,714,745 (removing Kyle Rau and Joseph Cramarossa)
Cap space B: $9,214,745
*Move Victor Rask's contract to a team with tons of cap space (either Detroit or Ottawa)
Cap space C: $13,314,745
Projected (forward) lines:
Mats Zuccarello - Marco Rossi - Kirill Kaprizov
Matt Boldy - Robert Thomas - Kevin Fiala
Jordan Greenway - Joel Eriksson Ek - Marcus Foligno
Frederick Gaudreau - Nico Sturm - Ryan Hartman
PP Unit 1:
Matt Zuccarello - Marco Rossi - Kirill Kaprizov
Kevin Fiala - Matt Dumba
PP Unit 2:
Matt Boldy - Joel Eriksson Ek - Jordan Greenway
Robert Thomas - Calen Addison
What you think of this so far? Like where this is going?
Now the Wild have the cap space to execute a contract for Kaprizov so we can play. Sign him to $9 million with bonuses. In the meantime why not still go after Logan Brown from Ottawa? Another player who could use a change of scenery? How about we trade Rask and a 2023 3rd round pick for Brown? Either in Iowa or on the big club you need to have center depth in place to make a deep playoff run. Makes your depth chart deeper. This is the time to do it and we still save money despite the buyouts restricting us. What do you say fans? Steal Robert Thomas!!!!!!!!
The opinions posted here are not those of Hockey Wilderness.