Sport 3 offseason moves the Minnesota Wild need to make
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Though the Minnesota Wild had a successful season by many accounts, they're going to have to make some moves this offseason if they want to take the next step.
Thefought quite admirably against the Vegas Golden Knights, taking the President's Trophy runner-up all the way to seven games in their first round series. Their season came to an end thanks to a 6-2 loss on Friday night.
In many ways, the Wild had a very successful season. They finished as the third-place team in a competitive Honda West Division. Had they been in their normal Central Division, they would have finished second, behind only the Colorado Avalanche.
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For the first time in years, the Wild were actually fun to watch. They have a reputation around the league for being quite boring and unexciting. For just the second time in franchise history, and the first time since the 2015-16 season,. Led by rookie sensation and highlight-reel regular Kirill Kaprizov, the Wild were one of the most exciting teams in the league.
The Wild are a team on the verge of being something special. Their young players have taken significant steps forward. The Wild had to wait years for Kaprizov to come over from the KHL, but thus far, he has proven to be more than worth the wait. In order to take the next step forward and become serious Stanley Cup contenders, the Wild have to nail this offseason. Here's a look at what they should do.
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3. Trade or protect Matt Dumba
Matt Dumba has been on the trade block for most of the past two or three years. In 2017, the Wild wanted to protect their blueline, so they parted with Erik Haula and Alex Tuch to avoid losing one of their defensemen (likely either Dumba or Jonas Brodin) to the Golden Knights. Even though Tuch has turned out to be a very good player for Vegas, the Wild were wise to protect their defensemen.
The Seattle Kraken expansion draft is going to be different. Minnesota has two choices. They can either protect four defensemen and four forwards or they can protect three defensemen and seven forwards. Three of their defensemen (Ryan Suter, Jared Spurgeon, and Jonas Brodin) have no-movement clauses.
While they could protect Dumba as well, it would mean they'd lose someone like Jordan Greenway, Ryan Hartman or Marcus Foligno. The Wild absolutely cannot afford to lose Dumba for nothing, so trading him to another team before the expansion draft might happen. Trading him for a goal scorer would make sense, but do the Wild really want to lose a top pairing defenseman?
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They could persuade Zach Parise and possibly Suter to waive their NMCs so they can gain some extra protection spots and keep the Kraken from getting too tempted by their goaltenders. Regardless of what happens, the Wild need to either make sure they only lose one player or at least make it worth it if they lose more than one.
2. Re-sign Kirill Kaprizov
Before doing anything to improve their organization in free agency, the Wild must take care of their own. Kaprizov, Kevin Fiala and Joel Eriksson Ek are among the restricted free agents and each of them are due significant raises.
Kaprizov is the most important RFA and he's also the most interesting. He's a very special player, both on and off the ice. On the ice, Kaprizov performs acts of wizardry Harry Potter would be jealous of. Off the ice, the Wild only have one year to judge him by. Most RFAs have at least two seasons under their belt by the time they are due their first raise.
There's no question the Wild are keeping Kaprizov, but I'm curious to see what the inevitable extension looks like. Expect the length to be at least five years and the cap hit to be at least $7 million. Considering Kaprizov did the impossible and made the Wild fun to watch, he's worth every penny of what he gets paid.
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While the Wild also have to worry about re-signing Fiala and Eriksson Ek, I specifically didn't mention them because the final move will likely involve parting ways with one of them. Speaking of which…
1. Trade For Jack Eichel
Looking at the Minnesota Wild's roster, they have depth, but they need more top-notch players. Just look at what adding Kaprizov did for the Wild. Imagine what adding a true No. 1 center like Jack Eichel would do.
Assuming Eichel's herniated disc is taken care of, he would give the Wild something they've never truly had: a franchise center capable of scoring at will. Yes, Mikko Koivu was underrated because he was so great defensively, but Eichel had 0.86 points per game this season despite only having two goals. Koviu only topped 0.86 points per game in a season twice in his career (2009-10 and 2010-11).
Now, what would it cost? The package likely starts with Kevin Fiala or Joel Eriksson Ek. At least one first-round pick is going to be involved. But which prospects would the Wild be willing to part with? The Buffalo Sabres will probably ask for at least one of Matthew Boldy or Marco Rossi.
While the LA Kings and New York Rangers might be able to counter with better prospects, the Wild can probably offer the best overall package if the Sabres are looking for both prospects and NHL-ready players in a return for Eichel. Trading for Eichel would be very risky, but the Wild have reached the point when it's time for them to be risky.
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Meyer’s cameo came when Chris Jericho and Maxwell Jacob Friedman made their way into the coach’s office during their Stadium Stampede match. Meyer and Strong gave Jericho an assist in pounding his opponent. Urb was kind enough to loan out his laptop so Jericho could beat MJF with it. You can see the video here.Perhaps the most surprising part of the guest appearance is that Meyer even agreed to use a curse word. Jericho told the media after the event that he appreciated Meyer being such a good sport.Many people thought we would never see Meyer as an NFL head coach.