Saddled by the salary cap, the Wild probably isn’t in position to make major offseason changes.
General Manager Chuck Fletcher was set to begin conversations with the agent for goalie Devan Dubnyk this week and also will establish communication with the camp of restricted free agent center Mikael Granlund before the team’s organizational meetings June 8-10.
But the salary cap ceiling is expected to be around $71 million next season; before offseason moves, the Wild’s cap for next season is around $61.9 million for nine forwards, five defensemen and two goalies, including Niklas Backstrom. This figure is before re-signing Dubnyk and restricted free agents Granlund, Erik Haula and Christian Folin, so the Wild won’t be active for big names in free agency.
A trade around the June 26-27 draft is not out of the question, but Fletcher said, “We have a lot of players under contract and the core of the team is under contract. We’ll see. We can just bring back our team. We don’t really have to go out and do a whole bunch here. I’ll take a look and talk to other teams and see what may be available.”
On the limited cap space, Fletcher admitted, “We certainly had more room most years. This year, we don’t have as much and that’s a product of doing what we can to try to win now. We still have more than several teams.
“I like our team. I like a lot of pieces, and we have to be smart about what we’re going to do going forward.”
The Wild had a first-round playoff win over the Blues in six games before being swept by the Blackhawks.
“Losing the way we did stings, to put it mildly,” Fletcher said. “But after beating St. Louis, I don’t think many people were asking us to make massive changes. So you have to be careful changing direction after four games.
“That doesn’t mean it wasn’t disappointing. We’ll figure out in early June why we didn’t play better, why weren’t we able to take a step? I just want to let some of the emotion die down and be rational.
“For four months everything went right, and then we lost four games. I like a lot of things, but I want to figure out what I don’t like and correct it.”
Fletcher said again no decisions on anything will be made until after the organizational meetings, including buying out Backstrom’s contract.
Earlier this month, Fletcher called the Wild’s Iowa farm team a “disaster” and indicated there would be changes. Coach John Torchetti, who took over for Kurt Kleinendorst in November, will return. The rest of the coaching staff could be altered, though.
Goaltending really hurt Iowa last season, and it’s likely Johan Gustafsson, a restricted free agent, will return to Sweden. The Wild signed goalie Brody Hoffman out of the University of Vermont; and Stephen Michalek, who lost a year of eligibility at Harvard because of a schoolwide academic scandal, could be signed if the NCAA doesn’t accept his petition to get another year of eligibility.
The Wild signed draft picks Pavel Jenys and Christoph Bertschy, and college free agent Grayson Downing, at forward; and draft pick Dylan Labbe and college free agent Zach Palmquist, who played four seasons for Minnesota State Mankato, on defense, a big problem at Iowa last season after Matt Dumba and Folin were recalled to the NHL.
Life of Reilly
The Wild likely will be among several teams that pursue Gophers defenseman Mike Reilly when he becomes a free agent June 15, although Reilly can’t sign until July 1.
The fourth-round pick of Columbus in 2011 has decommitted from the U. There are entry-level contract parameters, so Reilly likely will go to whatever team he sees as the best fit for him.
Reilly’s father, Mike, is an investor with the Wild’s ownership group.
Yeo moves up list
Wild coach Mike Yeo, the NHL’s youngest coach at 41, is now the fifth-longest tenured coach in the league (with the same team) behind Boston’s Claude Julien, Chicago’s Joel Quenneville, Arizona’s Dave Tippett and Jack Capuano of the Islanders.