Should the Minnesota Wild tank next year? If not now, when? The Wild had a 113-point season, a superstar performance in the playoffs, and still lost in the first round. So how is next year going to be better? What will they do with their roster with the upcoming cap situation? Kevin Fiala is all but gone, and the goalie situation remains a conundrum because Cam Talbot and Marc-Andre Fleury are getting older. If they couldn’t win this year and will be worse in the next year or two, is it time for the Wild to purposely tank?
They’ve always been a middle-of-the-road team throughout the Wild’s entire existence. Too good to ever get a top-three draft pick (aside from Marian Gaborik) and bad enough to never make an impact in the postseason. They’re constantly eliminated from the playoffs in the first round, resulting in a pick in the 17-25 range. And this year, their 113 points locked them into the 24-27 range. Unless the draft is considered deep, which isn’t often, middle-to-late first-round draft picks are way likelier to be nice players than stars.
The Wild are going to find themselves in a precarious situation. Straddled with the dead money from the Zach Parise and Ryan Suter buyouts, the Wild will have to trade at least one or two impact players.
Fiala is the most likely candidate. He had a career year with 85 points, and he formed a line with Freddy Gaudreau and Matt Boldy that gave the Wild great depth scoring in the regular season.
However, Fiala was invisible in the playoffs this year. The Wild’s second-best scorer in the regular season had three points and 18 penalty minutes in the postseason, which is a major concern.
The New Jersey Devils and Ottawa Senators are reportedly interested in Fiala, and they have reportedly considered up their first-round pick for the Swiss winger. However, the Devils have the second-overall pick, which may remove them as a suitor. Ottawa has pick No. 7, so that might be plausible. Either pick would allow Minnesota to draft an excellent young player who will be cost-controlled for a few years.