The off-season hasn’t been that long for the Wild and already, some players are moving around. Here’s a look at what’s going on:
Erik Christensen, who was picked up in February, has signed with a KHL (Czech) team and is leaving the Wild. He was brought on as a shootout specialist, ranking 3rd overall with 29 shootout goals in his career. He didn’t impress the Wild, though, accumulating only 12 points in 49 games.
Good bye Josh Harding? The backup goal tender for Minnesota looks likely to leave after the signing of 20 year old 6th round pick Johan Gustafsson. Harding was 13-12 last year with a GAA of 2.62 with a save % of .917. Gustafsson looks promising with an impressive 1.68 GAA with a .932 save percentage last year in the Swedish Elite League.
Goalie Niklas Backstrom has one year left on his contract and with the likely departure of Harding, Matt Hackett will be the backup with Darcy Kuemper and Gustafsson battling for the 3rd spot.
Of course all the buzz this off-season has been the signing of Mikael Granlund, the Finnish star, to an entry-level deal. Many are saying he is the NHL’s future as he had been dominant in the HIFK, Finland’s top league, scoring 13 goals and notching 40 assists in 43 games. “Mikael is a world-class player,” general manager Chuck Fletcher said. “I feel he’s ready to play in the NHL, and our expectation is he’ll play for our club next year and contribute.”
The Wild have an abundance of young talent with guys like first rounders Charlie Coyle, Jonas Brodin and Zack Phillips as well as second-round picks Brett Bulmer, Johan Larsson and Jason Zucker all ready to go pro.
All told, the Wild are looking to improve on their 35-36-11 record next year and make the playoffs and even though they’ve lost a couple guys, their counting on the young talent to provide that much needed spark at the Xcel Energy Center next year.
About the Author
Written by Mike Schlottman
Mike is graduate of St. Olaf College and has been blogging about the Minnesota Twins since 2012.