RandBall's off-season Wild wish list
- Blog Post by: Michael Rand
- May 14, 2014 - 11:05 AM
How quickly we turn the page, right? A little sleep. A little thinking about the future. A little realization that the window for Wild success should be open for at least a few years.
And suddenly it's time to think about the future.
Here, then, are our offseason priorities if we are running the Wild:
1) Solve the goaltending issue. This is the biggest conundrum, by far, and it's the thing that could keep the Wild from taking a meaningful step next season. Niklas Backstrom is under contract for two more seasons. Josh Harding is under contract for one more year. Darcy Kuemper will command a one-way deal. Ilya Bryzgalov likes it here, but is it really wise to bring him back considering you will be paying three other goalies? So if we're the Wild, here's what we do: Assuming Kuemper is healthy, you go into next season riding him as your No. 1 goalie. You let Bryz go. You hope/believe that between Backstrom and Harding you can cobble together enough of a backup plan to get you through to the trading deadline. At that point, if you have at least two healthy goalies and one of them (preferably Kuemper) is playing well enough you trust him as a playoff starter, you stand pat. If not, you make a trade deadline move to get the best rental goalie available. The theory is that Kuemper/Harding/Backstrom could very well be good enough to get you through the majority of the season, while not adding another goalie until later gives you the flexibility to make other roster moves this offseason. It's a bit of a risk, but we can't imagine a team carrying four goalies under contract for a full season. The only way this changes is if there is roster movement with Harding or Backstrom, which seems unlikely but possible we suppose. Adding the top rental goalie at the deadline gives you a legit chance to make a playoff push without committing you to a full season of salary. Plus handing the keys to Kuemper to start the year lets you find out exactly what you have there.
2) Sign a big, bruising defenseman. As well as Clayton Stoner and Marco Scandella played for much of the playoffs, the Wild is still a little small on the blueline. Having one more rugged blueliner in the top six who can can puck battles and clear the front of the net would be huge, particularly in another playoff run.
3) Decide if Thomas Vanek is really worth the contract he will command. That's the name constantly bandied about when it comes to adding one more forward -- and a pure goal-scorer at that. It makes sense from a lot of angles, but ... let's also consider Vanek is 30 years old. You already have forwards Zach Parise, Jason Pominville and Mikko Koivu tied up in expensive long-term deals (not to mention Ryan Suter, but that's a different bucket since he's a D-man). Parise, Pominville and Koivu will all be 30 or older by the time next season starts. If you sign Vanek for four or five years, does it clog up the roster and make it tough to eventually lock up guys like Charlie Coyle, Mikael Granlund, Nino Niederreiter and Erik Haula? Again, a conundrum. This team could use a pure goal scorer, but at what cost?
4) Sign Mike Yeo to a new multi-year deal. He's earned it.
Your thoughts, please, in the comments.
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