The Minnesota Wild charged into the postseason for a second straight year but they took the entire league by surprise when they went deep into the Western Conference Playoffs and almost upset the Chicago Blackhawks after a series in which they upset the Colorado Avalanche.
Despite losing in six games to the Blackhawks, everyone in hockey very openly acknowledged that the Wild have arrived as a legitimate franchise in the NHL and this offseason will show if they can continue to grow and make smart decisions or if they’ll regress.
According to Michael Russo from the Star Tribune, the Wild aren’t expected to bring back veteran skaters Dany Heatley, Nathan Prosser, Clayton Stoner or Mike Rupp.
In terms of the Wild’s unrestricted free agents beyond Stoner, Dany Heatley and Mike Rupp won’t be back. Defenseman Nate Prosser is expected to test free agency in an attempt to land a spot as an NHL regular. If that doesn’t happen, the Wild may be willing to re-sign him next month.
None of these names are real surprises as Heatley flashed in the pan far too infrequently, Stoner and Prosser are being replaced by younger players and Mike Rupp is a goon the Wild don’t need. Matt Cooke is the Wild’s enforcer and Rupp is just a problem waiting to get paid for.
What this mass exit of veterans does is not only free up playing time for the younger Wild players who started to make a mark in the postseason, but gives the Wild a chance to open up cap space and look at free agents who could come in and help. There’s no saying that’s what Minnesota will do though, as the younger players will want big paydays in the near future, but the Wild have options and it should be an exciting offseason in Minnesota.
Tags: Minnesota Wild