02 July 2009

Wild Free Agency So Far...

All right I'm typing this with one eye on the Puck Daddy 2009 Free Agent Frency Chatter Box because I'm expecting news any minute on Saku Koivu....

Aside from that I'd say I'm especially pleased with where the Wild are at now.

1) Confimred Signings

D Greg Zanon (3yr/avg $1.9M)

I'm really psyched about this signing. I remember seeing him when I was still a fan of the AHL's Milwaukee Admirals (I don't want to claim to be a current fan because I no longer have family ties to Wisconsin and haven't been to an Admirals game in 3 years) seeing Greg Zanon. He's was a beast. I don't think he's made too much noise since getting to the NHL with the Preds, but he's a big physical guy willing to throw his weight around. It now seems to me when Fletcher was talking about brining toughness to this team, this is the kind of guy he had in mind. I think a need that has been underrated for the Wild is the need to have players willing to stand up for Backstrom (or Harding for that matter) after whistles. Too many liberties were taken and Burnsie and Schultz (when healthy) seemed to be the only guys willing to do anything about out (except of course for Boogaard, but it's hard to count that when he appears for 6 minutes a night, albiet those tend to be key minutes).

W Martin Havlat (6yrs/$5M per)

This one seems good on the surface, he had a career year last year with the hawks (77pts in 81 games), but beware, he's missed more games than Gaborik in the same length of a career. That said in terms of what have you done for me latley Havlat at $5M coming of a year where he missed on game v. $7.5M for Gaborik who played in 20, this seems like the better deal. I don't really have a problem with the money, but I think the term is kind of risky. But a lot of potential upside if he stays healthy (Imagine Havlat-Koivu-Bouchard?, more on lines later)

2) Who the Wild Aren't pursuing

W Marian Gaborik

Gaborik of course signed with the New York Rangers as all of you should know. I was shocked when the rumor was that Gaborik's agent was seeking a 10 year for $75M. Gaborik got the money, but not the term. Still Gaborik should be thrilled anyone gave him over 3 years at that kind of money. But if you though the Twin Cities media was rough on the former franchise player, wait until the big apple gets a hold of him.

Still I want to wish Gaborik the best, I think his leaving the State of Hockey is ultimatly best overall for both sides, but I am glad for the time he was here. I was glad to attend the game where he scored 5 goals against the Rangers (also in that game and just about as thrilling is when Burns laid out two guys that were going to hit him after a whistle).

As for the Rangers I think they definatly overpaid, but as is true with Havlat, if Gabs finally stays healthy, the upside is potnetially huge.

D Bergeron, D Skoula
I think chances are these guys are hitting the open market with Zanon being signed. I'm not going to cry too much over Skoula, Bergeron I'll miss a little more, although he only stayed the one year, and I think fell slightly short of the offensive expectaions. Foster's probably not going to be signed if the Wild manage to sign the Penguins Scuderi. Scud would make D number 8, so the Wild would probably be scratching two nightly (usually Foster and Scott) in that scenario.

C Velliux
It looks to me like he's going to be the odd man out unless all pursuits of UFA Centers fall through for the Wild.

3) Who we're still chasing

C Saku Koivu

Eight Years Mikko's elder, this Koivu brother could be the answer to the Wild's depth problems at center. Yes granted he's at the age when his game will be in decline. But his experience would be great. And as my freind Jen puts it, "We could have a grumpy old man line," meaning Nolan-Koivu, S-Brunette, that thought gets me exicted.

If we don't get Saku (he either retires or just heads elsewhere, apparantly Anaheim is still in the mix), there are other FA centers the Wild will need to look at. (I've been typing for 20 minutes, no news on Koivu).

The Wild have been rumored to be close since last night, apparantly they're still trying to come to an agreement on the length, according to the Strib's Russo.

D Rob Scuderi ("Scuds")

He was barely above a minimum wage player last year on the Stanley Cup Champs. His performace definatly warrants him a raise from his $713K. Apparantly a few teams are interested including the Pens wanting him for a return, but this would be another great addition to the blue line.

4) The ugly news (we're getting close to the cap).

Accoring to NHLnumbers.com the Wild are at about $50.7M with the cap expected to be around $56.8M. That includes 6 D (3 of which will be RFAs after next season), and 12F. This does not include any RFAs (Harding, Brodzinak, and Pouliot among those being tendered qualifying offers on June 30). So the space it tight, and probably too tight for both Scuds and Koivu (unless they both come in at under $3M each somehow). Boy how much easier this would've been if Johnsson's $4.875M contract were one year shorter?

Well this took about 20 minutes to type and nothing further on Koivu, I imagine he'll be signed once I click publish, but again follow the Y! Sports Puck Daddy Free Agent Chatter Box for the latest (The Strib's Michael Russo has been included :) ).

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