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Wilderness Walk: Homecoming King

Cullen returns to Minnesota and other, less exciting news

Minnesota Wild v Vancouver Canucks Photo by Rich Lam/Getty Images

He’s back, he’s back, he’s back! Matt Cullen has returned to the Minnesota Wild!

On the face of it, this level of excitement seems a bit much for a player that ultimately will slot in much, if not all, of the time at 4C, but Cullen’s signing with the Wild is significant and thrilling for several reasons:

  1. Cullen is the best 4C the Wild have had in years. The Wild’s fourth line have dragged down rosters that otherwise had excellent depth, so this is a very encouraging development for a team that just had its best season.
  2. Relatedly, the Wild are now arguably improved over last season. The deal with the Vegas Golden Knights to send Erik Haula and Alex Tuch and get a 3rd round pick in return was a necessary move. Sending Jason Pominville and Marco Scandella to the Buffalo Sabres for Tyler Ennis and Marcus Foligno (who still hasn’t been signed) was at best treading water to clear cap space, but at worst was a blunder that saw a reliable 3rd liner and solid defenseman leave for an injury-prone scorer and fourth line bruiser who might not even stay with the team. With Cullen’s signing taking up some of that cap space, the moves this summer add up to an improved set of forward lines with a defensive corps still relatively intact.
  3. Cullen just came from a team that won the Stanley Cup in consecutive seasons. In both cases, they overcame significant injuries, played against strong teams, but found ways to win. That is a mentality and experience that can only benefit the Wild who have struggled mightily in the playoffs.
  4. Lastly, it shows that Wild general manager Chuck Fletcher has had a plan for the summer. While his moves at the Expansion Draft were very savvy, the deal with the Sabres did not inspire a lot of confidence. With Cullen signed, GMCF looks like he was playing a longer game than many fans were apt to give him credit.

Cullen News

Coming home: Cullen to join Wild, play 20th NHL season -
Native Minnesotan Matt Cullen called joining the Wild for the 2017-18 season a "family decision." He has won three Stanley Cups, and will turn 41 in November.

Matt Cullen puts off retirement for hometown Wild
Matt Cullen isn’t quite ready to hang up the skates, agreeing to a one-year, $1 million deal with the Minnesota Wild on Tuesday.

Off the Trail

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