The Minnesota Wild seem to have narrowed their search down a bit as three names seem to have forced their way to the top. In his recent mailbag, The Athletic’s Michael Russo (subscription required) writes that it likely will come down to Pittsburgh Penguins assistant GM Bill Guerin, Montreal Canadiens assistant GM Scott Mellanby and former Philadelphia Flyers GM Ron Hextall.
Guerin continues to be the frontrunner as Wild owner Craig Leipold is enamored by Guerin’s stature and leadership, something that is of high priority after issues with previous GM Paul Fenton, who lasted just over a year with many issues surrounding his ability to lead. Guerin is believed to be a man who can not just lead a front office, but has the ability to affect the coaching staff and the players in a positive way, which Russo believes makes him the favorite. The only issue for the Wild is that they were hoping to get a general manager that already has experience as a GM, which Guerin doesn’t.
Hextall, who many thought was the favorite immediately when the job became available, is still in the mix. Russo writes that while there are rumors that many in Philadelphia were glad to see Hextall leave due to his lack of leadership, the scribe has interviewed quite a few people and believes that those complaints can be easily explained of justified, which might suggest that Hextall, who has the most experience as a general manager, might also make a good GM. However, if the team is worried about re-creating the same problem they had when Fenton was in charge, the team might opt to go in a different direction.
Mellanby could be the darkhorse, however. He has an impressive track record in Montreal and after interviewing on Wednesday, rumors are he impressed Leipold quite a bit. The only other longshot would be New Jersey’s Tom Fitzgerald, but after extensive interviewing with Minnesota a year ago, the Devils aren’t thrilled about allowing him to interview again and only allowed a 20-minute chat. There has been no further interviews with the idea that the only way it can hire Fitzgerald is if they just offer the job to him outright without further discussion, which seems unlikely.