After losing in the first round to the Dallas Stars, the Minnesota Wild have turned their attention to next year and the attempt to getting back into the playoffs. Today, GM Chuck Fletcher spoke to reporters and gave some interesting information. In a series of tweets, Chad Graff of the Pioneer Press reports:
- Fletcher was impressed by what he saw from Mikael Granlund on the wing this season, and might go that way again next season. Up until now, Granlund had always been regarded as a center and had performed well in that role. With Charlie Coyle’s emergence, and Mikko Koivu’s continued strong play perhaps a slide to the wing is the best fit for the 24-year old playmaker.
- He adds that Granlund’s fit on the wing has prompted a search for a third center, with Fletcher being quoted: “If we can find a guy, we’ll do it.” Presumably this would be in a third line role, something that could probably be found on the cheap in this year’s free agency.
- The team has already begun fielding calls on restricted free agent Darcy Kuemper, though Fletcher admits he’s “a little hesitant” to trade the 26-year old goaltender. Kuemper has performed admirably as the Wild backup for the last few seasons, logging a career .912 save percentage and 2.47 GAA in 84 games.
- Asked about the possibility of buying out Thomas Vanek – something we profiled here on PHR yesterday – Fletcher said “Everything has to be on the table after the season we had.”. Vanek is owed $7.5MM ($6.5 cap-hit) for 2016-17.
- Michael Rand of the Star Tribune adds that while they’ve already had calls on many of their young defencemen, new coach Scott Stevens would love to keep them all. Fletcher seems open to the idea of trading one, saying “We would certainly look at trading from our strength — our defense — for a forward”