It is the most hectic, chaotic, anxiety-driving time of year in the NHL calendar: The days between the draft and free agency. Everyone is glued to their phones; notifications turned on for just about any credible source’s tweets, and with any inch of movement towards a transaction, we all get extremely excited at any possibility of it happening.
Well, for the cap-strapped Minnesota Wild, there might not be as much as there was just last summer, as they attempted to re-structure their entire blue line and add some offensive depth up front. And having already signed goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury to a two-year deal, and restricted free agent defenseman Jake Middleton to three more years, the Wild don’t have a lot left on their to-do list.
One thing that they wanted to check off, but couldn’t, is re-sign grinding fourth-liner Nicolas Deslauriers before he hits the open market. But, according to some reports, they will not be able to do that.
During Monday’s episode of 32 Thoughts podcast, Elliotte Friedman made it fairly clear that Deslauriers will be available for all teams to sign him on Wednesday and it most likely will not be the Wild.
“The one thing Bill Guerin did say to me in a conversation I had with him at the draft is, ‘If we could fit in him, we already would have signed him.’ So he is going to get paid,” Friedman said on the podcast.
The Wild have just over $1.4 million in projected cap space and still need to fill at least one more roster spot to have a normal, 21-player (one extra skater) roster. That is hopefully going to be top prospect Marco Rossi and his $863,333 cap hit, so in reality, if they wanted to bring back Deslauriers, they would have to sacrifice key development for one of their best prospects in decades, and that just doesn’t sit right with management — which is a good thing!
Also heading to free agency this Wednesday is veteran depth forward and local boy Nick Bjugstad; defenseman Jordie Benn; and other AHL depth players like Kyle Rau, Brandon Baddock, Nolan Stevens, Dominic Turgeon, Jon Lizotte, and Zane McIntyre. I wouldn’t be totally shocked if the Wild decided to re-sign some of those minor-league players to supplement an AHL Iowa team that should have some interesting prospects on it, but we shall wait and see.
It all comes to fruition when the doors of free agency are open at 11:00am CT on Wednesday.