This is an offseason full of questions for the Minnesota Wild. A team perenially on the verge of taking the next step has now lost seven straight playoff series, and they enter the 2023-24 landscape with only $8.23MM in projected cap space and multiple players to sign.
Wild general manager Bill Guerin spoke with The Athletic’s Michael Russo and Joe Smith on the unique challenges brought in by their cap situation and commented on the futures of multiple players, including breakout netminder Filip Gustavsson. The 24-year-old Swede will undoubtedly receive some Vezina Trophy votes after posting a .931 save percentage in 37 starts, but he’s also a pending restricted free agent with arbitration rights. Guerin told Russo and Smith “there’s always challenges” when it comes to locking in contracts on a team without much maneuverability, but said talks with Gustavsson would start “very, very soon” and he’s confident they’ll reach an agreement.
Other notes from Guerin’s interview with Russo and Smith:
- Guerin highlighted Ryan Reaves as one of the unrestricted free agents he’s focused on retaining this summer. After an early-season trade from the New York Rangers, Guerin said he was impressed with Reaves’ on-ice and off-ice presence, viewing him as integral to the team’s locker room chemistry. Reaves scored 15 points in 61 games this season with Minnesota, his highest scoring total since the 2019-20 season with the Vegas Golden Knights. He’ll need to take a discount on his previous $1.75MM cap hit to stay in a Wild uniform.
- One player who’s not a pending free agent is defenseman Alex Goligoski, but Guerin said he’ll still sit down and have a talk with the veteran defenseman about his future. Locked in through next season with a no-movement clause and a $2MM cap hit, Goligoski, 37, oftentimes found himself as a healthy scratch this season, including in all six playoff games. If he’d be open to a trade somewhere else for more playing time in likely his last NHL season, it would free up some much-needed cap space for the Wild.