Page 2 of 2 Previous

Continued: Wild Insider: Don't count on major shakeup at the top

  • Article by: MICHAEL RUSSO , Star Tribune
  • Last update: May 11, 2013 - 12:20 AM

Phoenix’s Mike Smith is the lone legit No. 1 goalie set to become a free agent, but he expects a large payday. Roberto Luongo might be bought out by Vancouver, but it’s hard to imagine the Wild would be interested in a goalie who has struggled so mightily at Xcel Energy Center (3.56 GAA, .873 save percentage) that he hasn’t played there since October 2010.

In the trade market, Buffalo’s Ryan Miller has one year left on a deal that pays him $6.25 million. That could be too expensive. St. Louis might look to move either Jaroslav Halak or Brian Elliott, while Anaheim might look to trade Jonas Hiller or Viktor Fasth. There’s also Jonathan Bernier, the Los Angeles Kings backup who has eternally been considered another team’s future No. 1.

One of the best moves by the old Doug Risebrough-Tom Lynn-Tommy Thompson regime was landing Backstrom. In 2006, he was the first European free-agent signee.

Perhaps the Wild would consider that route again. There’s a 23-year-old named Antti Raanta who had a season for the ages in Finland. He backstopped his team, Assat Port, to the SM-liiga title with a 1.45 goals against average and .955 save percentage, which was good for the Jari Kurri Trophy — Finland’s equivalent to the Conn Smythe.

Maybe Raanta is the next Backstrom … or maybe he’s the next Dennis Endras.

Needed: goal scorers

From there, the Wild has to decide whether to re-sign veterans Matt Cullen or Pierre-Marc Bouchard. Bouchard, a 2002 first-round pick, likely played his last game with Minnesota, finishing with the second-most games in franchise history (565) and third-most points (347).

Cullen, 36, would love to come back, but at his age, it will depend solely on money and years.

“For sure, I know that could have been my last game as a Wild player,” Cullen said.

The Wild needs to get bigger and faster. It needs to improve offensively. The question is whether Fletcher will have the cap space to accomplish it.

Teams get two compliance buyouts over the next two offseasons. The Wild might try to use one on Dany Heatley. That would free $7.5 million in cap space. But he had season-ending shoulder surgery and teams can’t buy out injured players.

So that could be an issue. Fletcher might also dive into the trade market. That could include shopping players such as Devin Setoguchi, Cal Clutterbuck, Tom Gilbert, Zenon Konopka and seldom-used Nate Prosser.

There are no easy answers, especially until cap space is freed. The reality is goals still don’t come easy to the Wild, and the Wild is going nowhere until that changes.

“We’ll never stop trying to improve our team from a personnel standpoint,” Yeo said after Thursday’s loss. “You always try to address your weaknesses. But we did improve [offensively]. We have to get better, there’s no question.”







 

  • related content

  • Scoggins: Yeo deserves some blame for Wild's failures, but only some

    Friday May 10, 2013

    Mike Yeo did not have nearly as talented a team as advertised.

  • Chart: Wild GM Chuck Fletcher's offseason to-do list

    Saturday May 11, 2013

    Six things for Wild GM Chuck Fletcher to consider this offseason

  • Wild General Manager Chuck Fletcher (left), Wild coach Mike Yeo

  • After starting 41 of 48 games in the Wild’s abbreviated, accelerated regular season, goalie Niklas Backstrom couldn’t play in the playoffs because of an injury, and the 35-year-old will be a free agent this summer.

  • Matt Cullen would love to return to the Wild, but the 36-year-old native Minnesotan acknowledged he might be playing elsewhere in 2013-14.

  • get related content delivered to your inbox

  • manage my email subscriptions

ADVERTISEMENT

Cleveland - LP: T. Bauer 1 FINAL
Minnesota - WP: A. Swarzak 3
Cincinnati - LP: M. Leake 1 FINAL
Milwaukee - WP: K. Lohse 5
Kansas City - WP: W. Davis 2 FINAL
Chicago WSox - LP: Z. Putnam 1
Washington - LP: S. Strasburg 4 FINAL
Colorado - WP: J. De La Rosa 6
NY Mets - WP: B. Colon 3 FINAL
Seattle - LP: T. Walker 2
Detroit - WP: A. Sanchez 11 FINAL
Arizona - LP: T. Cahill 5
Los Angeles - D. Haren 6:05 PM
Pittsburgh - F. Liriano
San Francisco - M. Bumgarner 6:05 PM
Philadelphia - A. Burnett
Texas - Y. Darvish 6:05 PM
NY Yankees - D. Phelps
Boston - C. Buchholz 6:07 PM
Toronto - R. Dickey
Miami - N. Eovaldi 6:10 PM
Atlanta - E. Santana
Tampa Bay - A. Cobb 6:15 PM
St. Louis - L. Lynn
San Diego - I. Kennedy 7:05 PM
Chicago Cubs - T. Wada
Houston - B. Peacock 9:05 PM
Oakland - J. Chavez
Baltimore - C. Tillman 9:05 PM
LA Angels - J. Weaver
Chicago 9:30 PM
San Jose
Calgary 7/24/14 8:00 PM
Edmonton
Winnipeg 7/25/14 9:00 PM
Brt Columbia
Ottawa 7/26/14 6:00 PM
Hamilton
Toronto 7/26/14 9:00 PM
Saskatchewan
Winnipeg 7/31/14 6:00 PM
Hamilton
Connecticut 75 FINAL
Washington 89
New York 9:30 PM
Los Angeles
Connect with twitterConnect with facebookConnect with Google+Connect with PinterestConnect with PinterestConnect with RssfeedConnect with email newsletters

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

question of the day

Poll: Which local pro team are you most excited about?

Weekly Question

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

 
Close