Monday, May 13, 2013

It's over. Now what?

Taking a look into that Wild-colored crystal ball into the future

Well, folks, we've had time to decompress from the 5-game series against the Chicago Blackhawks. The fact is, that the Wild did themselves in with the April swoon, as they went a hapless 1-5-1 at home in the final month of this shortened NHL season.

It's not enough that they had to essentially 'back in' to the playoffs, having to win on the final day of the regular season in Denver to qualify for the playoffs; it's that the two teams that finished ahead of them both moved on to the second round, eliminating NW Division champion Vancouver (by San Jose, 4-and-out) and Pacific Division champion Anaheim (by Detroit, in 7 games).

It's not enough that the Wild get pretty much handled, by the President's Trophy champion Blackhawks, pulling out a win in OT (thank you, Jason Zucker) in what otherwise would have been a very depressing series. Top 2 goalies injured, down to the No. 3 goalie (Darcy Kuemper) and you're facing the one team, that can roll four great lines at you all night.

No. That's not enough. You get to sit home and watch, as the two teams that you should have been ahead of both win, and go onto the next round of the Playoffs.

Meanwhile, back in St. Paul, bags are packed up and good-byes said for the summer (or, in a few cases, permanently). Who knows what the Wild roster will look like in September, when the NHL 2013-14 season begins? There will need to be about $6 million pared off the current roster, between now and July 5 (the start of NHL free agency)?  Who goes, and who stays?

There may be a lot of roster changes netween now and July, as the Wild may use one (or both) of their 2013-agreed 'compliance buyouts' to get under the new, reduced salary cap. With a $64 million cap in 2013-14, the Wild will be hard-pressed to redistribute the wealth, in order to further improve the club while staying within the guidelines agreed to after the 2012-13 lockout.

So, do we dare look into the crystal ball and see what may happen ahead? Or, do we just wait, and wait, and wait some more, until the NHL draft (June 30-July 1, at Newark) happens, and Wild GM Chuck Fletcher maybe pulls another rabbit out of his hat?

The crystal ball looks awfully cloudy these days. Best just to wait and see.

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