A lot like the bigwig NHL Insiders north of the border like, cough cough, the Pierre LeBruns of the hockey world, most general managers yearn to get all of their offseason business done by the completion of the first day of free agency so they can then escape to their summer cottages and disconnect for the duration of the summer.
In Wild GM Bill Guerin’s case, he doesn’t own a cottage. He’s got a beach house on the Jersey Shore, but if he gets to spend any more time there during this condensed offseason, it very much could be a working vacation.
One day into free agency, the Wild did sign their primary target on the blue line, Alex Goligoski, to a one-year, $5 million contract. They signed one of their targets for the bottom-six, forward Frederick Gaudreau, to a two-year, $2.4 million contract ($1.2 million AAV). He’s the Nashville Predators’ 2017 Stanley Cup Final revelation who came to Minnesota in part because of his adoration for his former Milwaukee Admirals coach, Dean Evason, and the fact his girlfriend was born and bred in Edina.
And in the evening, three hours after Guerin forecast that he was done for the day, the Wild burrowed deep into the depth chart of the remaining defensemen left on a quickly-thinning list and signed well-traveled veteran Dmitry Kulikov to a two-year, $4.5 million deal ($2.25 million AAV).
It’s still clear not everything went according to plan Wednesday.
The Wild entered the day wanting to sign two forwards and three defensemen. They ended the day with one forward and two defensemen signed and a once-deep blue line reinvented and conspicuously still absent a right-side defenseman for their third pair.
This means Guerin and his staff have work to do to not only fill out the rest of the roster, but, oh yeah, we’re almost in August and the two star-studded elephants in the room — Kirill Kaprizov and Kevin Fiala — don’t seem any closer to signing new contracts. And, there’s still that never-ending issue of potentially finding a No. 1 or 2 center, although at least temporarily the Wild have backed out of Jack Eichel trade talks, sources say, because they’re fed up with the asking price from the Buffalo Sabres for the $10 million star with a neck injury.