The Minnesota Wild had a disappointing season in 2010-11, which ultimately forced the organization to come to terms with the need for a rebuild. Too many of their players are past their prime and injury prone; and so its time to spend a few years getting younger and better.
Franchise goaltender Niklas Backstrom is back, and while there are some good prospects in the system, it is likely they will hold off on promoting one for now. The trade of Brent Burns and the pending buyout of Cam Barker (unless someone claims him off waivers) signals a changing of the guard on the blueline. Prospects like Scandella and one of Jared Spurgeon or Nate Prosser will get significant time at the NHL level this year. The forward group will hopefully be better with a full season out of Bouchard, the return of Latendresse and the addition of Darroll Powe. Its too bad fans in Minny will have to wait another year for Mikael Granlund, as he has decided to spend another year in Europe. It wouldn’t shock me to see GM Chuck Fletcher to trade Martin Havlat at some point this summer, given the thin UFA pool.
The Wild have over $15M in cap space, and while they won’t be one of the teams spending right up to the ceiling, they will use the money to add several missing pieces. There are plenty of second and third line wingers available on July 1, and it is expected that Minnesota will land one. More importantly, with the departure of Burns, the Wild will be in search of a top 4 defenseman. Perhaps they will be in the bidding for Wisniewski, Ehrhoff and Kaberle. If not, they could always trade for one. Finally, the backup goaltender position will need to be filled by a UFA. Ideally, it will be Jose Theodore again, but he may get a #1 job elsewhere, believe it or not.
MINNESOTA WILD 2011-12 ROSTER (using CAPGEEK CAP CALCULATOR)
Pierre-Marc Bouchard ($4.080m) / Mikko Koivu ($6.750m) / Devin Setoguchi ($3.000m)
Guillaume Latendresse ($2.500m) / Matt Cullen ($3.500m) / Martin Havlat ($5.000m)
3RD LINE WING ($0.000m) / Kyle Brodziak ($1.150m) / Cal Clutterbuck ($1.400m)
Colton Gillies ($0.700m EST) / Darroll Powe ($0.950m EST) / Eric Nystrom ($1.400m)
Brad Staubitz ($0.575m)
Nick Schultz ($3.500m) / Marek Zidlicky ($4.000m)
TOP 4 D-MAN ($0.000m) / Marco Scandella ($0.845m)
Greg Zanon ($1.933m) / Clayton Stoner ($0.550m)
Jared Spurgeon ($0.526m)
Niklas Backstrom ($6.000m) / BACKUP GOALIE ($0.000m)
BUYOUTS (not including Cam Barker): Mark Parrish ($0.927m)
SALARY CAP: $64,300,000
CAP PAYROLL: $49,288,610
CAP SPACE: $15,011,390
Minnesota Wild fans need to be patient, as the rebuild is underway. It won’t be too long before Mikael Granlund, Charlie Coyle (acquired in the Burns trade) and 2011 first round picks Jonas Brodin and Zack Phillips are making their mark in the show. The future is bright, but making the playoffs in 2011-12 and perhaps even the next few years is a long shot, at best.
About the Author
Written by Corey Krakower
I am the Director of NHL Content & Habs writer for ProSportsBlogging.com; I have spent 8 seasons behind the bench as a minor hockey coach; and I am the future GM of the Montreal Canadiens (according to my mom). I spend my days managing the Harrow Sports brand in my hometown of Montreal and I moonlight as a Hockey Advisor for Pi Athlete Management. Most importantly, I'll throw anyone under the bus for a laugh.