The Minnesota Wild are close to landing their next general manager. Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman reports (Twitter link) that they are nearing a deal with Nashville Assistant GM Paul Fenton but that there is no timetable for an announcement. Michael Russo of The Athletic adds (subscription required) that owner Craig Leipold offered the position to Fenton early on Saturday with negotiations ongoing since then. He also notes that Fenton’s agent, Neil Glasberg, was at the World Championships in Denmark which could be delaying things a little bit.
Fenton has been on the radar to be a GM for several years now and actually interviewed for the Minnesota position when it was last available back in 2009 but Chuck Fletcher got the nod back then. He has been with the Predators since 1998 in a variety of different roles including Director of Player Personnel, Assistant GM, and GM of their AHL affiliate in Milwaukee while also serving as Director of Player Personnel for Team North America at the 2017 World Cup. Worth noting is that Leipold also has some familiarity with Fenton from his time with the Preds as he was with the team as its owner from 1998 through 2007.
Minnesota had interviewed several other candidates for the position, including Julien BriseBois (Tampa Bay), John Ferguson Jr. (Boston), Tom Fitzgerald (New Jersey), Bill Guerin (Pittsburgh), Dave Nonis (Anaheim), and Bill Zito (Columbus). Fitzgerald was the other finalist for the position having gone for a second interview earlier in the week.
Assuming a contract is agreed upon, Fenton will be tasked with making some changes to a Minnesota roster that has largely underachieved in recent years. Most of the core of the team is already locked up for next season (aside from pending RFA winger Jason Zucker) so most of those moves will likely need to be made via the trade route in the weeks and months to come.