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20 April 2007

Wild Offseason Preview

The Expression on Niklas Backstrom's face says it all...

The Wild's season having ended abruptly last night in Anaheim, I thought this was in order:

Minnesota Wild: 48-26-8, finished 2nd in Northwest Division, 7th in the Western Conference. Were eliminated by the Anaheim Ducks, in 5 games (1-4).

1) Current financial obligations

W Marian Gaborik, 6.50 M$
W Pavol Demitra, 4.50 M$
W Mark Parrish, 2.65 M$
W Brian Rolston, 2.43 M$
C Dominic Moore, 0.70 M$
W Branko Radivojevic, 0.68 M$
W Stephane Veilleux, 0.59 M$
TOTAL: 18.50 M$

C Todd White
C Wes Walz

C Pierre-Marc Bouchard
C Mikko Koivu
W Derek Boogaard
W Adam Hall

Kim Johnsson, 4.80 M$
Keith Carney, 2.10 M$
Petteri Nummelin, 1.00 M$
Brent Burns, 0.87 M$
TOTAL: 8.77 M$

Martin Skoula

Nick Schultz
Kurtis Foster

Manny Fernandez, 4.50 M$
TOTAL: 4.50 M$

Niklas Backstrom

Josh Harding

2) Needs and Donts

- Along with his average 44 points, Todd White proved that he was expendable from the Wild's point of view. With the acquisition of Dominic Moore (as a late pickup), White's role was once again questioned and undecided:

Was he going to be Minnesota's 3rd line center or 4th ?
Was he going to be the Wild's 2nd line center if Mikko Koivu ran out of gas, was he going to be able to fill the role he was signed to occupie ?...

Wild fans are still wondering why White was signed... but the sure thing is he is expendable with the presence of the speedy Dominic Moore. Another question is if he can find a better job elsewhere, plenty of factors for his unprobable re-signing.

- Martin Skoula was a decent defenseman during his stay with the Wild, he even proved that he could bring a steady presence to it's defensive core, but I think that he is due for a change, and so are the Wild. With an important lack of defensemen who can play steady defense and score goals, Doug Risebrough might start targeting defensemen like Brian Rafalski (if not re-signed by NJ), Brent Sopel (if not re-signed by VC) and Brad Stuart (if not re-signed by CGY) who could spark the Wild's offense as well as providing serious defense.

- Manny Fernandez, once again, showed the Wild why he cannot be trusted with the starting goalie's role, without having a precise and reliable plan B... B for Backstrom?
Backstrom will probably be re-signed and start the '07-'08 campaign as Minnesota's no.1 keeper. On the other hand, Fernandez's salary is at a hefty 4.5 million dollars with an immediate 4.33 million dollar cap-hit, which, if not starting, is completely ridiculous to pay him. Backstrom might also only want to sign with the Wild if Manny is completely out of the way... thus rendering a Fernandez trade probable. Interested teams might include the Phoenix Coyotes, Florida Panthers and the Los Angeles Kings... but add a severe knee injury and Manny's age, 34, to the case, and you appear to be a clear loser... Even though Risebrough might not get a good player in return for Fernandez, a trade would be a complete gain for the Wild, loosening up all that important cap space, and a clear sign of relief.

3) Offensive Preview

- The Wild's first line for the 2007-2008 season is set (Gaborik/Koivu/Demitra), which causes the focus to be on the "less important" combinations for the Minnesota Wild.

- Rolston is a sure lock on the 2nd line and so is Pierre-Marc Bouchard, but can Mark Parrish, who had a despicable season with 39 points in 76 contests, regain the form he had when he scored at least 25 goals "some many seasons ago" ? That is an important clause for the Wild's second line.

- The 3rd line is also uncertain, with a mix of gritty forwards looking in on it, Dominic Moore, Branko Radivojevic, Stephane Veilleux and Adam Hall will give it their all to make it onto the young franchise's 3rd assortment of offensive players.

- I would also not be suprised to see the Wild go after a certain number of gritty and experienced forwards, to fill a certain number of spots on both of their 3rd and 4th lines.

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2 fanatics have replied:

Bleu, Blanc et Rouge said...

Come on.

White's 44 points were better than nearly any 3rd line centre out there.

Anonymous said...

Why the hate for White? He was one of the best players and the coach really trusts him in all areas of the game. If Lemaire has any say in the matter, expect White to come back.

© 2007 Bleu, Blanc et Rouge.

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