Sportsguy: Why is this team so challenged when it comes to scoring?
Russo: 1. Lacks natural goal scorers; 2. Not big enough (see St. Louis) or fast enough (see Chicago); 3. No sharpshooters from the blue line (it hopes Matt Dumba can develop into one); 4. Has never been bad enough to get the blue-chip prospects. Colorado has a couple of lousy years and is now set for the next 15 by drafting Nathan MacKinnon, Matt Duchene, Gabriel Landeskog and Ryan O’Reilly.
Bryanxyz: What college free agents are the Wild interested in?
Russo: When UMass-Lowell’s season ends, the Wild will try hard to sign big Swedish defenseman Christian Follin, who many believe is good enough to step right into the NHL (ineligible for the playoffs). Several teams are interested, including Philadelphia, Boston, Vancouver and Edmonton.
Sathington: With the cap going up and Dany Heatley coming off the books, what will the Wild prioritize with that money?
Russo: Most important, the Wild must figure out its goaltending situation with the uncertain health situations of Josh Harding and Niklas Backsrom. If the team believes Darcy Kuemper can handle the No. 1 reins, it might look at a scorer like Thomas Vanek and/or signing a free-agent defenseman. If the Wild feels Kuemper isn’t ready — and his play lately may leave doubts — it needs a goalie.
Big G: Who will NOT be back for the Wild next year?
Russo: Heatley, Mike Rupp and Ilya Bryzgalov, and likely not Cody McCormick. Depending on the Wild’s plans for free agency, I’d think the team talks to Clayton Stoner and Nate Prosser. I’d think maligned Kyle Brodziak will at the very least be dangled on the trade market.
Mnhockeyguy: Do the Wild use their compliance buyout this summer?
Russo: It’s hard to give up centermen in this league, but maybe Brodziak after two down years in a row.
rcs5010: Matt Moulson appears to have the scoring touch the Wild needs. Odds he is around next year instead of Vanek?
Russo: Depends on how far the Wild goes, how the Wild feels he fit in (his lack of speed in what’s become a fast league may be the drawback on a long-term deal) and what type of contract he is looking for to forgo free agency. So, it’s up in the air.
Mgalaforet: What 1st- or 2nd-pairing defenseman may be available as a free agent?