We all know that Minnesota Wild GM Bill Guerin likes to get his business done early, but we didn’t expect him to solve almost the entire 2022-23 roster in the first few weeks of the offseason.
In the most recent (and possibly the final) move for the Wild’s summer, the team announced they have re-signed forwards Mitchell Chaffee and Nick Swaney to one-year, two-way deals.
The fellas are ! #mnwild NEWS: We've re-signed F Mitchell Chaffee and F Nick Swaney to one-year, two-way contracts.— Minnesota Wild (@mnwild) July 17, 2022
Both deals have identical financial implications — a league minimum $750,000 in the NHL, and a $125,000 salary in the AHL — which makes total sense considering the two forwards are both 24 years old and have similar positions in the Minnesota depth chart.
In his second season in the AHL, Chaffee increased his production by a significant margin; from just 17 points in 28 games during his rookie campaign, to 23 goals and 39 points in 49 games. All of that earned him a call-up to play two full NHL games during the Wild’s injury-laden season. He should play a significant role in the AHL next year, especially if some of the AHL Wild’s leading scorers are able to find full-time spots in St. Paul.
Swaney might not have earned an NHL debut, but in his first professional season after being one of the University of Minnesota Duluth’s top forwards for the four years prior, he was still able to score 16 goals and 38 points in 62 AHL games. Not too shabby for the 2017 seventh-round pick.
After these twin re-signings and solidifying some AHL depth with four adds on the open market, the Wild might just call it and await training camp in a couple months. There is still the possibility of adding a depth NHL forward, but with options decreasing around the league, and competition for these players being tough, Guerin and his management might just depend on their minor-league depth to fill in that final 12th or 13th forward spot.
The Wild have approximately $4.3 million in cap space with 11 forwards, seven defensemen and their two goalies. Assuming that top prospect Marco Rossi makes the roster out of training camp, that’s pretty much your whole roster done. The trade rumors are still rampant and Guerin might try to move someone like blueliner Dmitry Kulikov — who has one year remaining on his deal, and the three-headed bottom-pairing of Kulikov, Alex Goligoski, and Jon Merrill, might just be uncomfortable for head coach Dean Evason to balance — to clear cap space, which he could then possibly use to hunt for some free agents up a tier.
Could Paul Stastny be swayed to Minnesota with a higher salary? Maybe breakout forward Evan Rodrigues is another option? Maybe there’s a giant blockbuster trade to be announced where Guerin is acquiring a restricted free agent and he’s clearing cap space to sign the player to an extension. Just maybe!
There are still possibilities this summer, but there could also be nothing at all. The only other option for transactions is signing Matt Boldy or Matt Dumba to extensions, as they are in the final year of their respective deals. We shall see, I guess.