Wild notes: Goaltending situation is in flux

  • Article by: Rachel Blount , Star Tribune
  • Updated: May 12, 2013 - 12:20 AM

Niklas Backstrom, 35, will become an unrestricted free agent on July 5.

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caferevMay. 12, 13 1:10 PM

The goaltending situation isn't really influx at all. If you listened to the exit interviews, you heard the plan. Yeo spoke as if Backstrom was already signed through next year. Backstrom spoke as if he's never wanted to play anywhere else and that money is a non-factor. Fletcher spoke as if he has every intention of bringing back Backstrom. Nick will be back. And if Cullen doesn't retire, he'll be back too, centering the second line. The Wild currently has a little over $9M cap space. It will most certainly buy out Tom Gilbert, freeing up $4M more. It will trade Clutterbuck, Brodziak, Knopka, and Rupp, to teams will ample cap space looking for role players, mostly for lower level draft picks, freeing up another $6.5M. The Wild will then have about $18M - $20M in total cap space, way more than enough with the current roster the way it is. (Remember, this year we had a SURPLUS of players, which caused issues of consistency in the roster.) It will then look for a big, skilled, high-end defenseman. Because of the lowering cap, it will also look to use its fourth line to showcase younger, skilled talent rather than simply bruisers and "checkers." Mitchell will be paired with guys like Bulmer, Haula, Phillips, and Fontaine throughout the year. Truth be told, the Wild is in good shape, and giving these lines and these young guys another year together will pay dividends. Again, I don't see Mikko as a #1 center, but there's no getting around it. So, next year you'll have Parise-Koivu-Coyle, Zucker-Cullen-Seto, Heatley-Granlund-Pominville, and a fourth line of something like Bulmer-Haula-Mitchell to start. That third line will prove to be quite dynamic. Your D will be Suter, Brodin, New Stud, Scandella, Spurgeon, and Dumba, with Stoner a healthy scratch most nights. Nick and Josh will be in net. And don't kid yourself: another year together, another year of maturity for young players and young COACHES, this team will be good. And to answer all those cries that the Wild need to "get bigger and faster," I say BS. This team needs more SKILL, so that it can play more possession hockey, like the top franchises play--you know, organizations like Chicago, Detroit, Boston...and not one of those teams is "big," per se.

mjk121882May. 12, 13 4:50 PM

What? Brodziak just signed his 'big' contract last year, what team would trade for his contract after the season that he is coming off of? Who would trade for Konopka? There is a wealthy stock of unskilled bruisers, nobody is going to be knocking the Wild's door down for Konopka or Rupp. If they want to get rid of those contracts they could release them. Clutter is a free agent, I can't see them resigning him and then trade him, that makes no sense. Heatley is an absolute clomper, I don't understand your nostalgia on him. He gives nothing as far as effort or defense. I can count a couple of fingers the number of skilled goals he had last season. The Wild would be best to buy him out as well as Gilbert. I can't understand why you want to get rid of the few grit players that the Wild have and replace them with young rookies. Your proposed 4th line looks like a disaster waiting to happen.

mjk121882May. 12, 13 5:11 PM

Also, I can think of two guys from Boston without even looking at their roster that play big, Chara and Lucic. They play big and tough, something the Wild don't have. I can't believe you are asking the Wild to model their team after DETROIT. The Wild need to stay away from that mold as much as they can. And once the Wild can get players like Toews, Hossa, Kane, Sharp, and Keith then they can afford to play a fast non-physical game. Unfortunately, instead, we have Koivu, Seto, Heatley, who are destroyed by big physical teams like San Jose, St. Louis, and LA. If we want to compete with the big physical teams we need to add some size to match up. We won't be skilled or deep enough to play around them like Chicago can. If we were to match up Erik Haula, and Mitchell on a 4th line against the 4th line of San Jose I don't think those two would make it back to the bench alive, they would be knocked around so bad. Only special teams like Chicago can play without being physical.

yathinksoMay. 12, 13 7:19 PM

Thanks Fletcher for trading Hacket, AND Larsson, AND a second round draft pick, AND A FIRST ROUND DRAFT PICK. All for a mediocre forward with no speed and becomes a free agent after next season. Fletcher needs to be cut off for ever making another trade.

firefly70May. 13, 13 2:01 PM

"I can think of two guys from Boston without even looking at their roster that play big, Chara and Lucic.":___ Obviously mentioning Zdeno Chara is a no-brainer, since he is the tallest player in the NHL. However, who was their leading scorer for the regular season? Brad Marchand. How tall is he? Listed at only 5'-9".

firefly70May. 13, 13 2:05 PM

"I can't believe you are asking the Wild to model their team after DETROIT. The Wild need to stay away from that mold as much as they can.":___ Huh? Please clarify your reason. I respectfully disagree that Detroit would not be a good franchise to model a team after.

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