After some recent indication that defenseman Alex Goligoski was healthy and ready to return to the Minnesota Wild lineup, the team has officially announced his activation of the LTIR. In order to make cap space to return Goligoski to the lineup, the team also assigned Vinni Lettieri (placed on waivers yesterday) and Dakota Mermis to their AHL affiliate, the Iowa Wild.
According to CapFriendly, with these moves, Minnesota has a projected cap space of $617K, which translates to roughly $806K in actual salary cap space. With only 21 players on the active roster, two of those being goaltenders, the Wild really only have the capability to bring up one league-minimum salary unless other changes are made.
Goligoski will likely return to a bottom-pairing role, or even become an extra defenseman on the Minnesota blue line, given his level of play and injury history over last season and the current one. He has missed all but two games for the Wild this season, carrying a -3 rating with zero points.
Mermis, on the other hand, has done relatively well filling in the shoes of Goligoski. In 13 games played in his absence, Mermis has two goals and three assists and has shown a skill for blocking shots in his defensive zone. With a $775K salary for the 2023-24 season, it wouldn’t have been unreasonable for the Wild to keep Mermis rather than Goligoski down the stretch.
For Lettieri, it was not a major surprise to see his name on the waiver wire yesterday, as he has operated as a depth forward option in the NHL for the last several years. In 11 games for Minnesota this year, Lettieri chipped in two goals but regularly averaged less than 12 minutes of ice time per night, indicating the Wild were not giving him very important minutes.