Tuesday, May 20, 2014

2014 Offseason To Do List

Chuck Fletcher (right) has another fascinating offseason ahead of him.
Photo: Andy King/AP
Now that we have had some time to collect ourselves from the defeat by Chicago, the focus will now shift to what the team needs to do this offseason. So here is a list of what the Wild need to do this offseason, to help ensure a successful 2014-15 season.

1. Give Mike Yeo a new contract. This was discussed last Thursday and here it was made very clear that the Wild should bring back Mike Yeo. Negotiations are expected to begin this week, and with the long list of head coaching vacancies in the league right now, Chuck Fletcher will try and get this wrapped up quickly.

2. Sort out the goalies. This should be labeled as 1b after Yeo because of the importance of the position. The Wild dressed seven goalies in 2013-14 and played five of them due to an endless amount of injuries to the first three goalies on the depth chart. Ilya Bryzgalov was stellar in the Wild's second round defeat, but he is not likely to return to the Twin Cities due to Niklas Backstrom, Josh Harding, and Darcy Kuemper still under team control. Fletcher has reiterated that Backstrom will be healthy by the time training camp rolls around, and that Josh Harding is going into the summer with every intention of playing next year. If that is the case, the Wild have their goalies in place for next year.

3. Sign RFAs Nino Niederreiter, Jason Zucker, Justin Fontaine, and Jon Blum. The first three a pretty self explanatory. They will be relied upon to play crucial roles for the Wild next year. Blum, meanwhile, is a guy they should bring back on a two way deal again to add some more depth to the blue line. In his limited appearance with the Wild this year, Blum held his own as a solid bottom pairing defenseman. He is still a guy you probably don't want to roll with for a full season, but he can be a decent fill in for when a defenseman gets injured.

4. Try and lock up next summer's RFAs. Jonas Brodin, Charlie Coyle, Christian Folin, Mikael Granlund, Erik Haula, and Marco Scandella. Those are the six pending Wild Restricted Free Agents for next summer. Flecther noted last week that he was looking to save cap space for when entry level deals begin to expire, and this would be the cream of the crop when it comes to the Wild's young stars. A prudent approach would be to hand out some new contracts this summer, rather than waiting until next summer. It could also be a good way to save some cap space, should a few of these players have breakout seasons in 2014-15.

5. Do nothing with Mikko Koivu. A majority of folks out there would like to see Mikko leave (whether that's via trade, despite a no movement clause, or via amnesty buyout). Well bad news is, that is not happening. Another thing that is not happening: Removing the 'C' from his uniform. He is still a valuable asset to this team. He is still the leader of this team. We'll go more into detail with this later on.

6. Hang on to your draft picks. Unless there is just a player you have to have, or a deal that you simply can not pass up, the Wild are better off hanging on to their draft picks in Philly next month. Under the Chuck Fletcher/Brent Flahr era, the Wild have had some rather stellar drafts, and have been able to find some diamonds in the late rounds (Kuemper, Haula). The team enters the draft with their first round pick this year (did not have one last year), but they did trade both their second round picks to Buffalo in exchange for Matt Moulson.

7. Re-sign Clayton Stoner. Not a popular move, again, but this is a necessary move. If this was last year, Stoner would be long gone. But he had a nice 2013-14, and had a solid playoffs. He is a big body defenseman the Wild need, and played exceptionally well in the playoffs. He is not the best defenseman when it comes to puck possession and what not, but he can be a relatively cheap option as a third pairing d-man and can give guys like Matt Dumba, Christian Folin, and Gustav Olofsson a chance to play in the AHL for a while.

8. Do not offer Thomas Vanek a contract on July 1. For at least a year now, the speculation has been rampant that Vanek will sign in Minnesota. He lives here, he trains here, and he has a history here. With his history of goal scoring, he is clearly a player the Wild need, right? Wrong. Vanek may have a great goal scoring ability, but that is about all he offers. He has become a solely offensive player, and his defensive abilities are very questionable. He is now on the wrong side of 30 and his effort level has been questioned at times this postseason. For the contract Vanek will want, it will simply not be worth it for Minnesota to sign him.

9. Find a defenseman willing to take a one/two year deal. Matt Niskanen appears to be the top defenseman on the free agent market, this summer. He will command a big contract at the age of 27. But should the Wild really go after him? If they were to bring him in, they would have five defenseman (not counting Clayton Stoner) who could play here with Dumba, Olofsson, and Folin on the way. It sort of logjams the defenseman in the Wild system. Find a more veteran defenseman (Dan Boyle? Brooks Orpik? Willie Mitchell?) to sign a one-two year deal to give the young defenseman a chance to play a year in the AHL.

10. Get a new scoreboard. This is really not team related, but just something the organization needs to do. After watching the great game ops in Denver and Montreal, centered around a mammoth scoreboard, its time for the Wild to up their game in that department and finally get a new "jumbotron" for Xcel Energy Center.

Follow Giles on Twitter @gilesferrell

1 comment:

  1. I would also add get koivu to realize he is a 3rd line center and penalty killer only. No more power pl ay or top 6 minutes.