After a disappointing end to their season, what’s in store for the Minnesota Wild in the offseason? Read on for the latest.
What next for the Wild?
TWINCITIES.COM: Chad Graff examined what he considers the offseason “to-do list” for Minnesota Wild GM Chuck Fletcher. Re-signing goaltender Devan Dubnyk is the priority. Acquired at midseason, Dubnyk’s performance saved the Wild’s season. He’s an unrestricted free agent this summer, and Graff suggests if all goes well, Dubnyk will return as the Wild’s starter with Darcy Kuemper as his backup.
Finding a reliable goal scorer is another. Graff speculates Fletcher could trade defenseman Jared Spurgeon, who has a year left on his contract, to make room for Matt Dumba on their top-four defense. The third defense pairing could be overhauled. Fletcher must also re-sign restricted free agent center Mikael Granlund.
ESPN.COM: Craig Custance lists re-signing Dubnyk, buying out former starting goalie Niklas Backstrom and bolstering their offense as the three keys to the Wild’s offseason.
NBC SPORTS: Jason Brough notes the risk the Wild face if they re-sign Dubnyk to an expensive, long-term extension based solely upon this season’s performance. However, he also notes the Wild can’t afford to lose the Vezina nominee.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Dubnyk’s season-saving performance and his Vezina nomination provides all the ammunition his agent needs to push for a four-year, $5 million per season deal. Fletcher likely prefers a two-year contract worth $4 million annually. The Wild can’t risk losing him to free agency, but they also can’t risk overpaying for a netminder who might be a one-year wonder.
The Wild can free up cap space by buying out Backstrom, who is finally healthy after being ineligible for buyouts the past two years due to injury. They currently have over $57 million invested in next season’s roster. They’ll get over $2.7 million in additional cap space next season with a Backstrom buyout.
They’ll have sufficient room to re-sign key players like Dubnyk and Granlund, and perhaps enough to add an affordable scorer if one can be found via trade or free agency. The Wild do have several promising young players, so Fletcher could decide to be patient and look to within for those youngsters to improve. They could try to re-sign Chris Stewart, but he faded down the stretch and went goalless in the playoffs.