The Minnesota Wild’s Salary Cap might have been a little too tight after trading F prospect Alex Tuch to the Vegas Golden Knights so they would take Erik Haula in the expansion draft instead of any of their available defenseman. They still had to sign Restricted Free Agent forwards Nino Niederreiter & Mikael Granlund with only about $15.2M available under the cap.
34-year-old F Jason Pominville had 2 more years & $12.2M left on his contract ($5.6M Cap Hit) and Marco Scandella had 3 years & 12M left ($4M Cap Hit) so it was going to be difficult to sign both Niederreiter & Granlund and try to do anything in free agency. The Minnesota Wild have had depth at the back end for a while now and they dealt Marco Scandella from that depth in order to free up some cap room.
It was good to get rid of Jason Pominville’s contract. He’s been underperforming for a few seasons. He came to the wild in the strike shortened season of 2012 known as a goal scorer because he had scored 20+ goals for 6 consecutive season in Buffalo scoring 157 goals in 483 games (a 26.7/season average.) The majority of Minnesota Wild fans were excited to get a goal-scorer on their team. He scored 30 goals his first full season in Minnesota in 2013-14 but since then he’s only scored 42 goals in 317 games. That’s an average of only 10.8 per season.
Now, Marco Scandella is a different story and, of course, the principle player in this trade for the Buffalo Sabres. Marco probably deserved to play a larger role in Minnesota including spending more time on the power play so he could unleash that heavy slap shot more often and drive up those goal totals. He may have also been their best defensive defenseman because he would be physical along with being able to skate with most forwards in the National Hockey League. He was the Minnesota Wild’s best defenseman in the playoffs.
At the time of the expansion draft, I felt the Wild could somewhat afford to lose any of the defenseman they had to expose to the Vegas Golden Knights. If they lost Jonas Brodin, Gustav Olofsson could fill in or step into that spot. If they lost Matt Dumba, Mike Reilly could step up and if they lost Marco Scandella, I felt Christian Folin could replace the physicality that was one of the better parts of Scandella’s game. The Wild failed to re-sign Christian Folin so he ended up signing with the Los Angeles Kings as a free agent.
So, the Minnesota Wild have Ryan Suter, Jared Spurgeon, Jonas Brodin, Matt Dumba, Mike Reilly, Gustav Olofsson, Kyle Quincey, Ryan Murphy, Carson Soucy and, maybe, Nick Seeler vying for the 6 or 7 defense spots available. The only players that can or will be someone to count on bringing some sort of a physical element on the back end are Matt Dumba, Kyle Quincey, Carson Soucy and Nick Seeler. 2 of those 4 players most likely will have a pretty difficult time making the roster out of training camp and I don’t believe Olofsson, Reilly or Murphy bring much of a physical element at all.
That exposes the Wild’s defense to a physical forecheck. They can all skate very well so they may be able to evade that kind of a forecheck but they also have to be physical to clear the front of the net and protect their goalie. Most of them have decent size but size doesn’t always matter (careful!)
They did add Marcus Foligno, though. The big power forward acquired from Buffalo, 6’3″ and 228 lbs. was 5th in hits last season with 279. They still have some big bodies up front in Nino Niederreiter, Charlie Coyle, and Chris Stewart. Charlie Coyle is a beast of a man but he really doesn’t play all that physical. Hopefully, he’ll start to realize how good of a player he can be if he plays physical and shoots the puck more, A LOT MORE.
So, keep an eye on the defense when Minnesota Wild players report for training camp next Thursday, September 14th.
THAT IS JUST 6 DAYS AWAY!!! SIX DAYS!!!
Thanks for reading and hey…