After a 7-games-in-11-days run, the Minnesota Wild have earned a few days off. The Wild came through that stretch with a respectable 4 wins, 3 losses, and have finally reached double-digits in points. Granted, that and $2 will only get you a small Pike Place blend at Starbucks, but as disasterous as October was for the local six, to pull out of it as they have provides that glimmer of hope for the rest of the season.
Granted, we are still not talking playoff hope. No. Not at all. The hope we are talking about is simply respectability, as the Wild continues to rebuild the organization after the disasater which was left behind following the sacking of Doug Risebrough earlier this year.
There are nine potential free agents in 2010, none the least of which will be defensemen Kim Johnsson and Marek Zidlicky, and forwards Owen Nolan, Eric Belanger, Petr Sykora and Derek Boogaard, all of whom could be used as trade bait to free up cap space for younger, faster, stronger, and smarter players.
What am I getting at? Yeah, let's speak to that. The Wild have a lot of dead weight to unload. Granted, it takes two to tango, so someone needs to step up and say they want one of the above mentioned players. The most talked about (at least here in Minnesota) are Johnsson (currently injured, yet another concussion, although the Wild are loathe to admit it), Zidlicky and Boogaard.
Granted, we are not even 1/4 of the way into the 2009-10 season. But '3-buck Chuck' Fletcher is waiting for your call. Any or all of these players are available...If, the price is right!
Seriously, NHL teams, up against a shrinking salary cap, need to shed dead weight as a whole. There are too many players on 3rd & 4th lines making too much money for doing too little. And now, no thanks to DR, the Wild have little money left to trade salaries to upgrade the talent pool. Few draft picks, thanks again to Dougie and his 'I'll give you a 3rd round pick for a 4th line forward' draft strategy.
So, here we are, Wild fans. They're running what they brung. It's just what they brung isn't getting the job done. Yes, they have finally put three solid periods together, but it took them seven weeks to do so. Granted, there is no way you put in a new offense overnight, but this team has dug itself such a hole, there may be no way that they dig themselves out. So we go back to the 'who wants 'em?' question again.
The winter, to say the least, will be an interesting transition period for the Wild. We'll all find out, together.