MINNEAPOLIS – Little changed with the formation of the Wild in the months following the hiring of Bill Guerin as general manager.
The roster he inherited in 2019 was similar to the one that ended the season; a second-half trade that sent Jason Zucker to Pittsburgh was the only major upset.
“I needed this first year to assess what’s going on and to move forward slowly and methodically,” Guerin said. “It took me a while to get our first deal done.
But breaking up with a longtime Wild player like Zucker was not on time.
The move was actually the start of a deconstruction of the team’s core, a more than a year-long process that culminated on Tuesday with the buyouts of Zach Parise and Ryan Suter.
And other adjustments await behind the scenes.
“You are continually evaluating where you stand and what you think needs to be done,” Guerin said, “and we will continue to do that. It will never stop. I’m not saying these big changes are always going to be done, but these things always have to happen.
At the start of the 2019-20 season with Guerin at the helm, the Wild had 10 players who had been in action with the team since at least 2016.
Now, only four meet these criteria: Jared Spurgeon, Jonas Brodin, Matt Dumba and Joel Eriksson Ek.
Zucker was the first to go, a deal that saw the Wild secure a package that included prospect Calen Addison, who could become a full-time player on the Wild’s blue line next season after Suter’s departure, and a first-round pick in next week’s draft.
Next was Eric Staal, who left via trade as Zucker. The Wild also failed to bring back then captain Mikko Koivu and sent goaltender Devan Dubnyk. The team also passed young Ryan Donato and Luke Kunin along the way.
Add to that the outings earlier this week of Parise and Suter, who bought out the last four seasons of their 13-year, $ 98 million contracts, and the Wild has been completely redesigned under Guerin’s leadership – a transformation that doesn’t It might not be unusual for a new leader to take over, but a dramatic makeover nonetheless.
“I know there was great affection for a lot of the players we’ve separated with over the past two years – for good reason,” Guerin said. “There have been good years here, but times are changing. Players are getting older. New players are coming. So we have to keep changing. We have to keep evolving. That’s part of it. It’s not a part. fun, but that’s part of it. “
While dissolving the core of the Wild, Guerin also assembled the replacement version.
Spurgeon was named Koivu’s successor as captain and signed a seven-year contract, while fellow defender Brodin also got a seven-year contract. Eriksson Ek has received the Guerin Regime’s longest engagement so far, an eight-year, $ 42 million contract, and the team are also working on re-signing forwards Kirill Kaprizov and Kevin Fiala.
Marcus Foligno and Ryan Hartman have agreed to three-year extensions, and Dumba is now in a position to be protected by the Wild in Seattle’s extension draft after the Wild gained flexibility for their protective roster by buying out Parise. and Suter.
Who will surround, or join, this new guard is the next transition.
While the Wild will be looking to add to their list of free agencies with short-term deals, the team also have prospects like Addison, Matt Boldy and Marco Rossi to consider. Same thing with some players on his Iowa minor league team.
Even if the addition of youngsters is limited, the future outlook could play a key role in the seasons to come when the team carries higher salary cap charges for the buyouts of Parise and Suter; the Wild may eventually need to rely on entry-level contracts to meet the salary cap.
And creating space for young players was a factor in the Wild’s thinking process when they chose to sever ties with veterans Parise and Suter, the latest chapter in an evolution that doesn’t seem ready to go. brake.
“It opens the door for other guys,” Guerin said. “It creates opportunities. Even coming back to being Jason Zucker, Jason was a very good player here and it wasn’t a very popular move. But it opened the door for Kevin Fiala, and that’s really what allowed him to start being the player you see now.
“There are guys who are going to jump at this opportunity, and that’s what we expect. That’s what we hope for.”
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