I'm pretty sick so today's review of the Minnesota Wild's off-season is going to be drenched in relative brevity. It was an intriguing off-season for the Wild as they traded a bunch of their good players to San Jose in hopes of getting back better players.
Follow the jump as we take a peek at a team we all believe our Avalanche are going to surpass in the standings this upcoming season.
D Drew Bagnall - 2 years, $1.225 million, $612.5K AAV: A career AHL defenseman, Bagnall got himself a pretty nice contract if he somehow makes the Wild roster. I know the Wild defense is bad (but not worse than Colorado's, right Copper & Blue?), but it shouldn't be bad enough this guy becomes a regular. He should remain one of the tough guys for my Aeros in Houston and no more.
F Jed Ortmeyer- 1 year, $585K, $585K AAV: In the twilight of a long AHL career, Ortmeyer was rewarded for his Joel Ward-esque playoff performance and asked to come back and be a veteran leader of the Aeros. Very likely won't have any impact on the Wild at all.
G Josh Harding - 1 year, $750K, $750K AAV: This deal was one of the stunners of the free agency period as an hour before the festivities kicked off, Harding took a below-market deal to stay with the only pro organization he's known and try to rebound from missing the entire 2010-2011 season with a knee injury. Now healed and ready to go, Harding should continue to provide near-starter level numbers as the backup and safety net to incumbent Niklas Backstrom.
LW Colton Gillies - 2 years, $1.250 million, $625K AAV: Drafting third-line players in the first round is always a curious decision but at least Minnesota is consistent. At least Gillies wasn't a Top 5 pick like James Sheppard and Benoit Pouliot! Gillies is a solid grinder with great speed who can really push the tempo when he wants to but the rest of his skills are lacking. Really, the guy is the Kyle Cumiskey of forwards. Is there any wonder why this team is never taken seriously?
D Mike Lundin - 1 year, $ 1 million, $1M AAV: Signed from Tampa Bay to be a roster player, Lundin is an intriguing talent at just 26 years old with 224 NHL games under his belt. He should help them out on their blue line and earn regular minutes and I wouldn't be surprised to see him thrive in Minnesota with their systems. He won't create many scoring chances but that's why they have Brent Burns, right? Oh...
C Casey Wellman - 1 year, $850,500, $850,500 AAV: Wellman showed up in Houston late but exploded onto the scene with 35 points in just 42 games, earning himself a call from the goal-starved big club. He responded with just one goal and one assist in 15 games and was promptly returned to Houston for their Calder Cup run (grrr). At 23 years old, Wellman still has time to find his legs in the NHL (sound familiar?) but the clock is definitely ticking for this goal-scorer to prove he belongs in the NHL.
F Devin Setoguchi (Trade with San Jose): I'm really intrigued to see how Seto does in his new home and away from the always stacked lineups in San Jose. He'll be asked to take on a greater scoring role because he's going to a team with just 2 or 3 forwards that other teams would be okay playing in their Top 6. If Seto proves he's not been a product of his environment, the Wild will finally have someone to pair with Mikko Koivu who actually deserves to be. If he collapses under the pressure, Minnesota is right back to where they started - only without an All-Star defenseman.
F Charlie Coyle (Trade with San Jose): The top prospect in San Jose's system is now one of the two best prospects in the Wild system. While he won't be asked to play in the NHL this year, his future is still extremely bright as he returns to Boston University for his sophomore season. A power forward in the making, Coyle should be excited to be coming into an organization that desperately needs a player of his potential and by the time he's ready to make an impact in the NHL one that should be closer to winning than they are right now.
F Dany Heatley (Trade #2 with San Jose): I'm really, really interested to see how this turns out. Heatley is a natural-born goal-scorer. A guy who was made simply to put the puck in the net and in his career he has not disappointed (except for those times he has). What will be very interesting is he isn't going to be playing on a top-flight line for the first time in his career. With more added defensive focus, can he maintain the lofty goal-scoring touch he's had his entire career or does San Jose end up looking like a genius when he falls flat?
F Darroll Powe (Trade with Philadelphia): Just another tough guy to fill out their fourth line, Powe doesn't really add anything Minnesota was in dire need of or really even lacking. I still don't really understand this move. I guess if he scores 10 goals and puffs out his chest a lot, Minnesota can be totally happy. If he doesn't, hey, they only signed him to a 3-year, $3.2 million contract after the trade.
F David McIntyre (Trade with New Jersey): I don't know anything about this guy. He's still young at 24 but hasn't shown much of a scoring touch, which is what this team needs. Anymore role players/grinders and Aeros fans are going to start rioting for making us start a bunch of scrubs >:[
RW Martin Havlat (traded to San Jose)
D Brent Burns (traded to San Jose)
C James Sheppard (traded to San Jose)
RW Chuck Kobasew (unrestricted free agent, signed by Colorado)
RW Antti Miettinen (unrestricted free agent, signed by KHL club Ak Bars Kazan)
G Jose Theodore (unrestricted free agent, signed by Florida)
LW Andrew Brunette (unrestricted free agent, signed by Chicago)
D Cam Barker (contract bought out, signed by Edmonton)
C Patrick O’Sullivan (unrestricted free agent, signed by Phoenix)
C John Madden (unrestricted free agent)
For my money, the Wild got better in some ways this off-season and made some bizarre moves elsewhere. Buying out Cam Barker's contract was confusing to me and letting soon-to-be 20 goal scorer Chuck Kobasew go was obviously a huge mistake. The re-signing of Harding was a total steal and the Wild did set themselves up nicely for the future. If Heatley and Seto are both still around when Charlie Coyle and Mikael Granlund are ready to make the leap to the NHL, this is a team whose offense might stop being a punchline here in the near future. The loss of Burns is going to be felt in all aspects of the game but this is a re-building time for the Wild (still...) so they sold high on a guy and got immediate and future help. Good on them for that but it still likely won't be enough to hold off the Avalanche and the Wild are in danger of being overtaken by the Oilers this year. Yes, seriously.