The Minnesota Wild had high expectations for the playoffs following a franchise-best campaign in the 2021-22 NHL season. Unfortunately, the St. Louis Blues proved to be too tough of a task to handle in the opening round as they eliminated the Wild in six games. Outside of Kirill Kaprizov, few players showed up on a nightly basis and now it’s back to the drawing board as general manager Bill Guerin turns his attention to the offseason.
It’s going to be a busy season for Guerin and the rest of management. The Wild only have just over $8.1 million in cap space to spend due to Zach Parise and Ryan Suter’s buyouts kicking in, which could make it tough to retain a restricted free agent (RFA) like Kevin Fiala. In other words, tough decisions regarding both the trade market and free agency must be made if the Wild hope to ice a better team in 2022-23 than they did this past season.
Here’s a look at three offseason moves that the Wild must make in the coming months.
1. Trading Mathew Dumba
One of the more prominent Wild-related rumors that have circulated in recent years surrounds the idea of trading Mathew Dumba. The veteran defenseman was once a key part of the club’s top two defensive pairings, but injuries have left him as a shell of his former self. That was made especially evident during the series against the Blues. Even though he gave it his all and wasn’t the worst defenseman on the team, he was clearly playing hurt and was far less effective than he could be. If he continues to play hurt, there’s just no telling how long his career will last.
His injury history and decline in play have made Dumba a prime candidate to be traded this offseason. He only has one year remaining on his deal and is owed $6 million for the 2022-23 NHL season. Even though he’s no longer at the top of his game, several teams could be interested in his services if they believe a one-year rental can help them get over the hump and make some noise in the playoffs.
Moving an injury-prone defenseman on a $6 million contract is a tough task, but the Wild can add to Dumba’s value by retaining some of his salary. Even if they only retain something like $2 million, that’s an extra $4 million that management can use to flesh out the roster. The extra cash can even be used as a way to re-sign Fiala, assuming that’s the direction they want to head in, which would help keep the Wild’s offense among the league’s best.