Saturday, June 30, 2012

Low Expectations

Tomorrow is the day we all have waited for.

For over a year, Wild fans, including myself, have been dreaming about this day. The day when New Jersey F Zach Parise and Nashville D Ryan Suter hit the free agent market, and the Wild are at their doorstep offering them a deal they can't possibly say no to.

But, the Wild won't be the only ones offering the two most coveted free agents contracts when the clock hits 11 am central time Sunday morning.

Parise could end up re-signing with New Jersey without even hearing another offer. But, should he hit the open market, he is expected to receive offers from the following teams: Detroit, Minnesota, Pittsburgh, and Los Angeles. And if you had to rank teams, most would have Minnesota at the bottom of that list.

Suter, meanwhile, will test the open market. As Russo has hinted for the past week, Suter will probably take a few days before he signs on with someone. Nashville has been trying to re-sign him before free agency starts, but he wants to see what is out there. But when the doors open up on Sunday, Detroit, Minnesota, and Pittsburgh are all expected to throw offers his way. And again, Minnesota is not at the top of many lists when it comes to signing Ryan Suter.

This is something the we all have waited for. But, the other teams in the mix for these two guys are powerhouse names in the NHL right now. They have the opportunity to win now, and they can give them the money they so desire. Minnesota can offer them the money, but only the opportunity to win a few years down the road.

Chuck Fletcher has such a tough sell, and to be honest, he may not have the tricks up his sleeve to sell them on coming to Minnesota.

I will be watching closely and hoping on Sunday (And the days after), that the Wild can sign the two.

But will be expecting either of them to sign on here? Absolutely not. And you shouldn't either.

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Farewell Guillaume Latendresse

Today, Russo confirmed what was first reported last night: Guillaume Latendresse will become a free agent on July 1st.

Guillaume followed up the news on twitter today by offering up the following statements:
"Thanks to all the Wild fans, the organization, the coaching staff, and the players. I'm moving forward on a new chapter in my career. That decision was made because I have a son of 4 years old in Montreal and I think he needs me. We will see what the market has to offer. Thanks to everybody in Minnesota, you guys were great to me."

This was not the news one would of hoped for from Latendresse and the Wild. Latendresse had just played 27 out of the 162 games in the past two years due concussion symptoms. The Wild were hoping he would come back on a one year, bonus laden deal, as the two sides had been talking for almost a week now. But it was clear that Guillaume wanted to move closer to home.

He would of loved to remain in Minny, but he felt it was time to move on. It stinks, but you have to respect his decision. He is not leaving for money, he is leaving for family.

So as we bid adieu to the Guillaume Latendresse era in Minnesota, we look back at some of Guillaume's finest moments in a Wild sweater.


But perhaps there was no better goal, than the one that tied the game at 5, capping off an epic comeback by the Wild on January 9, 2010.

Farewell Guillaume. You will be missed by the Team of 18,001.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Suter Watch: Preds To Make One Last Effort

I had a Suter Watch entry on the blog yesterday, but I felt there was sufficient news today on the subject to post another one.

In his blog today, Preds beat writer Josh Cooper, gave us an update on where the Ryan Suter situation stands with the Predators. He says that Nashville GM David Poile will make "one last ditch effort" to re-sign the all star defenseman before he becomes a unrestricted free agent on July 1st.

Suter is by no means expected to re-sign with Nashville before July 1st, but Cooper has often speculated that Ryan could very well end up returning to Nashville after testing the free agent waters.

But, to make matters worse for Nashville, today, one of their plan B options for if Suter left, Dennis Wideman, had his rights traded from Washington to Calgary and the Flames instantly inked him to a 5 year, $26.25 million deal (Well done Calgary...not!)

When healthy, Wideman can put up similar numbers to Suter (Wideman can score goals a shade better than Suter). So should we expect Suter to sign a similar type of deal come July 1st? No. Suter has been considered the best defenseman on the market, so at minimum you can expect him to make $6 million per year. And Suter will definitely be receiving a contract that is longer than 5 years. Bank on it.

The stakes just got that much higher for Ryan Suter. Man I can't wait till July 1st.

Here are my previous posts in the Suter Watch series:
"Is There Really A Chance?"
"Extension Talks Over"
"Potential Suitors"

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Suter Watch: Potential Suitors

In my last post on the Suter Watch, I mentioned that it would appear that Ryan Suter would more than likely be heading to free agency. Shortly thereafter, multiple media outlets were reporting that Suter had broken off talks with Nashville for an extension and will go to free agency on July 1st. 

So now that it is clear Suter will be available to anyone come Sunday, here is a look at the potential teams who could sign the free agent D-man:

Philadelphia Flyers: The Flyers lost their best defenseman and team leader, Chris Pronger halfway through the 2011-12 season when he suffered a nasty concussion. The timetable for his return is unknown at this point. And on July 1st, their next best defenseman, Matt Carle will become a free agent as well. So the Flyers could potentially make a run for Suter if they so choose to move on from Carle. They are viewed more as a long shot to sign him, but they should be considered nonetheless. 

Nashville Predators: The Predators made a strong push to resign Suter this offseason. But, he has chosen to test free agency and see what is out there for him. As it has been noted many times, Suter could simply be testing free agency, but ultimately he could just re-sign with the team he came up with. Nashville may not give him the best offer, in terms of money or future, but it should be seen as a strong possibility that he returns to the Music City.

Minnesota Wild: No team could use an established defenseman on this list more than Minnesota. They have some good young d-men on their roster, but they lack a veteran presence and a d-man with good offensive skills. Minnesota perhaps, presents the best chance for Suter to win long term with their young prospects set to begin their entry level contracts. But, it would be a few years before Minnesota can potentially be a Cup contender. That is something other teams on this list, can offer him more instantly. 

Detroit Red Wings: There is a gigantic hole on the #1 defensive pairing for Detroit entering 2012-13. They lose their team leader and face of their franchise in Niklas Lidstrom when he retired earlier this month. The Wings do present a great chance to win down the road, and they are one of the most revered franchises in the NHL. The Wings are considered a favorite to land Suter, but the question is: Does he want to fill the shoes left by the legend, Lidstrom.

Pittsburgh Penguins: Before the NHL Draft, the Penguins had little cap space to even be considered in the mix for Suter. But a couple of trades later (Jordan Staal, Zbynek Michalek), the Pens have sufficient cap space to go after Suter and, if they can move Paul Martin, Zach Parise too. The Penguins need a defenseman much like Suter to man the powerplay with Kris Letang, and one who can provide efficient work in the defensive zone (See the Penguins defensive play in the playoffs against Philly). Pittsburgh, much like Detroit, is a top canidate to land Ryan Suter's services.

This is the third post in the Suter Watch series. To read the others click here and here

2013 Hockey Day Minnesota Announcement

Today, on their Wild Road Tour, the Minnesota Wild announced their matchups for the 2013 Hockey Day Minnesota, which will take place in Grand Rapids.

It will once again feature three high school games (2 played live, and one on tape delay), and they will be played on Pokegama Lake in Grand Rapids. Those games are as follows: Eagan vs Hibbing, Benilde St. Margaret's vs Grand Rapids, Hibbing vs Grand Rapids (Girls, also on tape delay).

The college game features the University of Minnesota and the University of North Dakota in their final meeting as WCHA rivals (Minnesota moves to the Big 10 conference the following year).

And capping off the night will be the Wild taking on the NHL's favorite franchise, the Pittsburgh Penguins in what should be a very good matchup (Assuming of course Zach Parise doesn't sign with Pittsburgh. Knock on wood!).

The times will be announced at a later date. All games will be broadcast on FSN North (Ugh!).

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Wild Draft Recap: Rounds 2-7

In surprisingly the same amount of time it took to go through the first round last night, the NHL finished up the final 6 rounds of the annual entry draft this morning. The Wild held a pick in every round this morning and in every round but the second, it was the 7th pick of the round (The second round pick was 16th in the round, which was acquired in the Marek Zidlicky trade). Here is the list of players the Wild drafted today:

2. Raphael Bussieres LW Baie-Comeau (QMJHL)
3. John Draeger D Shattuck-St. Mary's (MN)
4. Adam Gilmour C Nobles (MA)
5. Daniel Gunnarsson D Lulea (Sweeden)
6. Christoph Bertschy C Bern (Swiss)
7. Louis Nanne LW Edina HS (MN)

Add the first round pick Matt Dumba to that list, and you have 3 defenseman taken with the first 5 picks in the draft. So clearly, there was more of an emphasis on that position for Chuck Fletcher and his staff.

Its far too early to grade this draft. It will take quite some time before we know the answer on any of these picks, so judging any of them would be a complete waste of time right now.

I've already seen some negativity regarding the team's final pick, Louis Nanne (Yes, the grandson of former North Star Lou Nanne). People seem to think the team picked him just to say we have some Minnesota players in our system. Come on folks, be real. The team drafted him, and all these players because they felt they were the best player available on the board. Quit making such idiotic remarks.

Now that the draft is over, we now look ahead to 8 days from now when NHL Free Agency begins. Its the day we all have been waiting for, but will it be as glamorous as we all hoped?

Friday, June 22, 2012

Wild Select Matt Dumba

Tonight, with the 7th overall pick, the Minnesota Wild drafted defenseman Matt Dumba from the Red Deer Rebels of the Western Hockey League. Dumba scored 20 goals and added 37 assists in his 2011-12 season with Red Deer. He projects to be a #1 defenseman with great offensive skills. But obviously, he will be 2-3 years away from actually suiting up in the iron range red.

The Dumba selection came as no surprise to me. I was slightly hoping they would take F Flip Forsberg, who had fallen to the Wild at #7 (and eventually fell to Washington at #11), or if they truly wanted a d-man go with the more physical Jacob Trouba. But, Chuck Fletcher stuck to his guns, and chose Dumba.

The decision to go with Dumba fills a hole in the Wild system. They lack a high offensive upside defenseman in their system, and their NHL roster for that matter.

So all in all, I am pleased with Chuck Fletcher's decision to draft Matt Dumba.

Welcome to the Team of 18,001, Matt Dumba!

Draft Links

Tonight, NHL commissioner Gary Bettman will step to the podium at Consol Energy Center just after 6 PM and kick off the 2012 NHL Draft. Everyone wants to know who will Edmonton take #1? Will Rick Nash, Bobby Ryan, and/or Roberto Luongo be traded tonight? Well, in just a few hours, our questions will be answered.

  • Instead of trying to cram one last post in before the draft, I figured I would just throw out some links from some other blogs as to how the Wild will approach this draft. 
  • Hockey Wilderness looks at the history of the 7th overall pick. 
  • Jacques Lemaire's Trap goes through the possible players the Wild could select with the 7th pick tonight.
  • First Round Bust gets some of the Wild blogosphere together to tell you who they would like to see drafted (Yours truly is one of the bloggers to speak in this piece).
  • Russo chimed in today with his pre-draft thoughts. 
  • Grant Sonier posted his final mock draft for He has Murray going #1 to Edmonton, Ceci to the Wild.

I will be heading out to Tom Reid's for the Wild Draft party later tonight. Should be a good time. I will have a post up upon my return (unless I go nuts at the bar :D), recapping the first round and the Wild's pick tonight.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Wild Announce 2012-13 Schedule

Today, the Wild, along with the rest of the NHL, announced their schedule for the 2012-13 regular season. The Wild are slated to open up their season at home against Colorado on Saturday, October 13th at 7 PM.

There are some ups and downs to this schedule. First, Nate from First Round Bust (Give his post on the Wild Schedule a read too!) pointed out to me that there are no 9:30 division road games this year. So when the Wild travel to Vancouver they will be starting no later than 9:00. Its not that big of a difference, but its an extra half hour so everyone wins.

Another positive to this year's schedule is that the Eastern Canadian teams (Maple Leafs, Canadiens, and Senators) all make appearances to Xcel Energy Center. The Leafs and Canadiens aren't exactly the gold standard of the NHL right now, but they have rarely visited St. Paul, so it is nice to see them come here.

But, the schedule does have some downfalls. The biggest being that Winnipeg (The Wild's new found rival) does not make a visit to St. Paul this year. The Wild do travel up to Manitoba on January 2nd, but the schedule was not so kind in sending the Jets back to Minnesota.

That is just about as big as a fail as you will ever see. I had the pleasure of being at the Wild-Jets game at the 'X' back in February. The building was packed, there were close to 3-4,000 Jets fans in the building, and the atmosphere was second to none for a regular season game that was almost meaningless. Hopefully, this issue will be fixed for future years (Or actually, the divisions realign like we all wanted and we play the Jets 6 times a year!!!).

You could make the same argument for East Coast teams like New York Rangers, Boston, and New Jersey not coming to St. Paul this year. It really does become kind of a drag to see the same useless West teams (Edmonton, Columbus) over and over again, and the better teams in the league we don't get to see.

Lastly, should the Wild be in contention late in the year, the schedule is definitely not in their favor. In April, the team plays their first 5 games in the month on the road against teams that are more than likely to contend (Chicago, San Jose, Colorado, Phoenix, Detroit) before playing the final two games at home. It will be rough, but lets hope the team is still in contention at that point (knock on wood!).

P.S. For those looking for a road trip opportunity this year (Much like I am), some good options would be Boston/New York Rangers November 8-10 or LA/Anaheim on December 8-9. Or one oculd simply just drive 7 hours north and see the Wild play the Jets!

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Draft Day Trades

Last year, Chuck Fletcher stole the show at the NHL Draft when he shipped D-Man Brent Burns to San Jose for Devin Setoguchi, Charlie Coyle, and the 28th pick (Wild chose Zack Phillips with that pick) in the draft.

It was simply the trade everyone was talking about. The draft is always good for a blockbuster trade during the first round. And you should expect nothing less than that during the first round of the 2012 Draft on Friday night.

But as we prepare for the 2012 draft, it would appear the Wild will be standing pat in the first round, and will keep their pick at #7. Russo has mentioned in his blog recently and his chat today, he has indicated that the Wild has no plans to make a trade on draft night or for that matter, make a trade in the near distant future.

The team seems to have more valuable assets and they are locked in to keeping them. So what this suggests, is that the only real major roster changes for 2012-13 will be the players Fletcher signs during Free Agency.

So Friday night, sit back, watch the Wild pick at #7, and wait for Rick Nash, Jordan Staal, and/or Roberto Luongo (perhaps?) to be dealt at the draft tables. It will be once again, fun to watch.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Wild Re-sign Harding

Surprisingly today, the Minnesota Wild announced that they have re-signed, free agent to be, Josh Harding to a 3 year deal worth $5.7 million ($1.9 million annual cap hit). The news was rather surprising as Harding was expected to test the free agent market, and see if he could land himself a starting gig, but instead he took the safe route and opted to back up Niklas Backstrom for at least one more year.

Harding has spent the the past 7 seasons in a Wild sweater (6 for those not counting 2010-11 when he missed the entire year with injury), and his contract will make him the longest tenured goalie in team history.

At first, the move struck me as curious. Why pay Harding almost 2 million dollars to back up Backstrom for a year, then see if he can remain the starter once Matt Hackett comes up to replace Backstrom's roster spot?

But, after a few hours to chew on it (and a conversation with Nate from First Round Bust), I figured that the team will rely on Harding to be the #1 starter once Backstrom leaves and it will allow the goalies in the system (Hackett, Darcy Kuemper, and Johan Gustafsson) to develop more before they get tossed between the pipes at Xcel Energy Center.

So all in all, I am on board with this decision, despite Harding's injury history (Lets hope that's gone!). When healthy, he can be a solid #1 goalie.

So for those keeping your offseason to do checklist at home, cross off back up goalie from the list...

Monday, June 18, 2012

Top 5 Wild Draft Moments

As we kick off draft week, I thought we would take a look back and countdown the top 5 moments in the Wild's draft history. It was a bit hard to find five given the team's success in the draft between 2004-2009 (Not good!), but we did find 5. Here they are:

5. 2002: Wild draft Pierre-Marc Bouchard 8th overall. Before a concussion took away parts or most of the last 3 seasons, Bouchard was rapidly making his way up the Wild all time scoring charts. Even with the injuries Bouchard is the franchise's leader in games played with 522. He has been a tremendous 2nd line forward with great hands and his ability to set up goals. His 229 career assists rank just second to Mikko Koivu, and had he not been injured he would for sure be #1 in team history in assists.

4. 2001: Wild draft Mikko Koivu 6th overall. Since the Wild drafting him in 2001, Mikko Koivu has become the team's 2nd highest all time scorer (Behind Marian Gaborik), he was named the first permanent captain in club history in 2009, and has undoubtedly become the face of the franchise. Like Bouchard, Koivu has a tremendous ability to set up goals, but has been known to make some highlight goals for himself from time to time. Koivu ranks 3rd all time in goals (108), 2nd in assists (253), and 2nd in points (361). Mikko is locked in under contract through the 2017-18 season so expect him to be leaders in those categories before his time is up here.

3. 2011: Wild trade Brent Burns and a 2012 2nd round pick to San Jose for Devin Setoguchi, Charlie Coyle, and the 28th overall pick. (Zack Phillips). It was just about a foregone conclusion that the Wild were going to trade Brent Burns during the 2011 offseason. It just so happened that he got traded on draft night, which was held right here in St. Paul. The Wild became immediate winners in this trade getting a young forward in Setoguchi, and two top prospects in Coyle and Phillips. Both of them are beginning their entry level contracts with the team in 2012-13. Look for this trade to go down as one of the best in franchise history.

2. 2006: Wild trade Patrick O'Sullivan and the 17th overall pick (Trevor Lewis) to Los Angeles for Pavol Demitra. During the 2006 offseason, then Wild GM Doug Risebrough made it a point to acquire some talent under a "Win Now" philosophy. So one of his first moves was bringing in the Slovakian center Demitra, to line up along side good friend Marian Gaborik. They were undoubtedly the best line duo in the team's short history. In the two seasons together, Demitra (40-78-118) and Gaborik (72-68-140) helped the team to two playoff appearances and the team's lone division championship.

1. 2000: Wild draft Marian Gaborik 3rd overall. He became the first player in the history of the franchise. He still sits atop many offensive categories in franchise history including goals (219) and points (437). There has been no better offensive player in the team's history, and his presence is still missed in the lineup to this day. Gaborik was a big help in the team's playoff run in 2003, scoring 9 goals and 8 assists in 18 games played.

Draft Week

Hope everyone had a wonderful Father's Day weekend. But as we put that behind us, we look forward to the next major event in the NHL offseason: The NHL Draft.

The draft will take place on Friday and Saturday (22nd-23rd) at the Consol Energy Center in Pittsburgh. The Wild currently hold the 7th pick in the draft (Behind Edmonton, Columbus, Montreal, New York Islanders, Toronto, and Anaheim), the highest they have picked since 2005 when they took Benoit Pouliot 4th overall. 

This past weekend, I dove into many mock drafts and scouting reports, and will be posting frequently throughout the week on draft related things. Should news come up in other aspects of the organization, I will of course be posting about them, but this will be mainly draft posts. 

So please keep checking back throughout the week!!

(Also keep checking out the Hockey Wilderness and First Round Bust blogs for great draft content as well!)

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Suter Watch: Extension Talks Over?

On June 1st, Josh Cooper of the Tennessean reported that Nashville GM David Poille went out to Wisconsin and met with Ryan Suter on starting talks for a contract extension. The talks reportedly went well, and there was optimism that the Preds were going to be able to get a deal done to keep Suter in town.

Now two weeks later, Cooper wrote in his blog that there has been very little happening with Suter since those talks. He raises the question where the talks are today, and that Suter could very well just test the free agent market since he has come this far without getting a deal done. 

Also in Cooper's post, he mentioned that Nashville could trade Suter's rights to another team so they do not walk way empty handed in the event Suter does sign elsewhere this summer. This is something that Mike Russo has suggested the Wild would try and trade for the rights of Suter and Zach Parise if extension talks fail. The Wild have a lot of cap space, so if they were to acquire the rights of Suter there would be much optimism that a deal would be reached.

A decision on whether the Preds decide to trade the rights of Suter may come sooner rather than later due to the fact the Preds talks with other potential free agents appear to be held up until they get Suter's situation resolved, as Cooper points out in his post today. 

So if Ryan Suter doesn't have an extension in place by the draft, look for his rights to possibly be traded shortly after.

Here is the link to my first post in the Suter Watch series: Is there a chance?

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Wild Salaries, Free Agents, and Cap Space for 2012-13

As we jump into the offseason, I figured I'd start by listing the Wild roster (Players under contract and free agents) and their salaries. The salary cap for next year is set for $70.3 million, but that could easily change with the expiring CBA this summer. Thanks to the guys over at for providing all this wonderful info for us! (Note: Italics denotes that the players salary is under a two way contract)

Dany Heatley-$7,500,000. UFA following 2013-14
Mikko Koivu-$6,750,000.  UFA following 2017-18.
Pierre-Marc Bouchard-$4,080,000. UFA following 2012-13.
Matt Cullen-$3,500,000. UFA following 2012-13.
Devin Setoguchi-$3,000,000. UFA following 2013-14.
Kyle Brodziak-$2,833,333. UFA following 2014-15.
Mikael Granlund-$2,100,000. UFA following 2014-15.
Cal Clutterbuck-$1,400,000. RFA following 2012-13.
Darroll Powe-$1,066,667. UFA following 2013-14
Charlie Coyle-$975,000. Entry Level Contract through 2014-15.
Zack Phillips-$969,167. Entry Level Contract through 2014-15.
Brett Bulmer-$870,000. Entry Level Contract through 2014-15.
Jason Zucker-$833,333. Entry Level Contract through 2013-14.

Tom Gilbert-$4,000,000. UFA following 2013-14.
Clayton Stoner-$1,050,00. UFA following 2013-14.
Steven Kampfer-$850,000. Entry Level Contract through 2012-13.
Marco Scandella-$845,833. Entry Level Contract through 2012-13.
Nate Prosser-$825,000. UFA following 2013-14.
Jared Spurgeon-$526,667. Entry Level Contract through 2012-13.

Niklas Backstrom-$6,000,000. UFA following 2012-13.
Matt Hackett-$900,000. RFA following 2012-13.
Darcy Kuemper-$900,000. RFA following 2013-14.

Restricted Free Agents
Guillaume Latendresse-Qualifying offer must be $2,500,000
Chay Genoway-Qualifying offer must be $1,200,000
Nick Palmieri-Qualifying offer must be $801,667
Jarod Palmer-Qualifying offer must be $735,000
Justin Falk-Qualifying offer must be $605,000
Nick Johnson-Qualifying offer must be $550,000
Chad Rau-Qualifying offer must be $537,000
Kris Fredheim-Qualifying offer must be $530,000

Unrestricted Free Agents
Kurtis Foster-2011/12 salary was $1,800,000
Mike Lundin-2011/12 salary was $1,000,000
Erik Christensen-2011/12 salary was $925,000
Josh Harding-2011/12 salary was $750,000
Jed Ortmeyer-2011/12 salary was $585,000
Warren Peters-2011/12 salary was $537,500
Stephane Veilleux-2011/12 salary was $525,000
Matt Kassian-2011/12 salary was $512,500

Cam Barker-$541,666. Final year of Barker buyout.
Mark Parrish-$927,778. Parrish buyout expires following 2013-14 season.

Payroll for 2012-13: $48,630,277 (Does not include RFA's)

Cap Space for 2012-13: $21,669,723 (Cap is set at $70,300,000)

Hello Offseason

Last night, the world watched the Los Angeles Kings lift the Stanley Cup following their 6-1 trouncing of New Jersey in Game 6. As the Kings celebrated, you couldn't help but feel good for former Wild player and now Kings Defenseman Willie Mitchell who was the first to receive the cup from Kings captain Dustin Brown.

But, that was yesterday. Today, it is now officially the offseason in the NHL. We are 10 days away from the NHL Draft and 19 days away from July 1st (Free Agency).

There is a lot of hope and optimism in the State of Hockey, that the Wild will be able to land notable free agents F Zach Parise and D Ryan Suter. And as Mike Russo points out in his blog today, if the players dont sign an extension with their respective teams, the Wild should be aggressive and go trade for their rights. Risky, but it could be worth it since the Wild do have sufficient cap space to sign both.

And before all that we have the NHL Draft. (For help on that, check out the posts from Hockey Wilderness and First Round Bust. Its tremendous stuff.) The Wild hold the 7th overall pick in the draft, which is the highest they have drafted since 2005 when they took Benoit Pouliot 4th overall (Yikes!).

The much anticipated offseason is underway. Get your popcorn ready, because these next 3 weeks shouldn't disappoint.

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Suter Watch: Is There Really A Chance?

Despite my hopes, the NHL season lives on for one more game. But, nonetheless, I am going to kick off some offseason posts with a new watch (Much like the Granlund Watch), the Suter Watch. Nashville defenseman Ryan Suter is a upcoming UFA, and is expected to receive offers from many teams, Minnesota being one of them. So as I kick off this watch, I ask the question: Does Minnesota really have a chance to land Suter?

Heading into next year, the Wild have $21.6 million in cap space (Taking into effect the cap increase to $70.3 million). So they would have the sufficient funds to sign Suter, who could command a contract in the neighborhood of $7 million. 

So all that would be left for Chuck Fletcher to do is simply sign the free agent when July 1st rolls around. Its gonna be a bit easier said than done.

Today I joined in a chat with Preds beat writer Josh Cooper of the Tennessean. He touched on a lot of topics, but the one of the most popular was Suter. I came away with the following thoughts from his chat, and from his previous post on Suter (Some of these aren't really new thoughts, but I'm going to put them out there again, anyways):
  1. The Preds are going all in for resigning Suter. A week ago, the Preds and Suter opened the first round of their negotiations. Both sides said talks went well and that they would continue over the next week. But since, there has been really no news on the Suter talks. But after reading today's chat, the Preds are really going all out to make sure Suter stays in the Music City. The Preds do have the cap space to bring him back too (Over $38 million), so money won't be an issue for Nashville.
  2. There is a good chance Suter resigns in Nashville. This past season, Nashville ownership made it very clear that they are in it to win. So at the trade deadline, they acquired D Hal Gill, F Andrei Kostitsyn, F Paul Gaustad and not to long after brought back F Alex Radulov from the KHL. The team was a heavy favorite to come out of the West, before being defeated by Phoenix in the second round in 5 games. But the message was sent to Nashville's core players. And for a guy like Suter, that could make it very easy to just resign with the Preds.
  3. If Suter doesn't resign, Shea Weber will most likely be leaving too. Now should Suter make it to July 1st and sign elsewhere, his defensive partner Shea Weber, could leave shortly thereafter. Weber is a RFA this offseason, but the following year he will be a UFA. So should Suter depart, Weber will want out too. If he wants out, the Preds could either trade him now and get something in return, or they will simply just let him walk away after next year. If the Wild miss out on Suter on July 1st, they would still have a shot at landing a big time defenseman with Shea Weber. 
  4. Zach Parise is likely to end up playing with Suter next year. This has been widely speculated for a while now, but it appears more and more likely that Suter and free agent to be F Zach Parise will team up and sign on with the same team this summer.Now there are only a handful of teams that could afford to sign both stars. Detroit, New York Rangers, Nashville, New Jersey and Minnesota would be the only legit contenders in that department (Yep, you read New Jersey). And it could simply be a case of one player resigns, and the other would just tag along and sign with that team. 
  5. The Wild are at the top of the pact, in terms of Suter suitors. The one question I asked in Cooper's chat today, was "If Suter does not resign in Nashville, where do you think he will sign?". And his reply was,"Detroit or New Jersey -- if the latter has more money to play with than we believe. If Parise re-signs there, I think it would be a good spot for him. At the same time, they have a ton of uncertainty. I just don't see Detroit happening, unless Ken Holland makes a few draft deals to get them younger and more talented again."  So clearly, he believes that Detroit will make those said draft deals and makes the team younger. The fact he said New Jersey really surprised me given all their financial uncertainty at this point. But I do believe that the Devils won't go quietly into the night on keeping Parise, so it could be likely Parise stays (A different post for a different day). He didn't mention Minnesota in there, but if you take into account what Cooper said (The Red Wings un-youthfulness and the Devils financial uncertainty), the Wild could be poised to land both. The team has many of their top prospects under contract beginning next season, and they have the willingness from owner Craig Leipold, to sign whoever Chuck Fletcher feels can best help this team win. Not many, if any, other teams can offer what the Wild could offer to Suter.
So after all of this, yes, the Wild do have a legit chance with signing Ryan Suter. But, it is no guarantee he makes it to July 1st. So lets hope he does...

(For those wishing to read the chat click here)