Each offseason brings changes to each NHL roster. While most people like the focus heavily on their team’s additions, it’s also fascinating to investigate the subtractions to see how former players are doing on their new team.
The additions of Alex Goligoski, Frederick Gaudreau, Dmitry Kulikov, and more have been well documented since they became members of the organization. However, let’s look at how some former Minnesota Wild players are doing through the first month of the NHL season with their new teams.
Nick Bonino left in free agency to sign a two-year contract with the San Jose Sharks with an annual average value (AAV) of $2.05 million. He was even awarded a five-team no-trade clause in the contract.
After having 26 points in 55 games last season with the Wild, it’s safe to say his start this season hasn’t exactly been what he was hoping for when he signed with San Jose. Bonino is still pointless through his first 12 games with the Sharks. He’s receiving almost three more minutes of average ice-time per game with the Sharks than he had last year; the puck just isn’t going in for him.
His shooting percentage won’t stay at zero forever as he has a career 12.3% shooting percentage; however, it’s undoubtedly been a disappointing start for him with the Sharks. All the Sharks have really gotten out of Bonino is a strong 54.6% faceoff man, but that isn’t worth over $2 million a season.
Ian Cole was acquired by the Wild early last season in a trade with the Colorado Avalanche. He was a great fit and helped solidify the Wild’s bottom pair defence group primarily because he understood his role and stayed within it.
Because of the Wild’s focus being on their top restricted free agents in Joel Eriksson Ek, Kevin Fiala and Kirill Kaprizov, Ian Cole went to free agency a secured a contract with the Carolina Hurricanes for one year at $2.9 million.
Through 11 games this season, Cole has only registered one assist, which is perfectly fine. He’s a defensive defenceman; the Hurricanes have other defencemen that can focus on getting points. Cole has already registered 18 hits in 11 games after having 34 in 52 games last season. That part of his game is likely more important to the organization than point production.
His team also currently sits at the top of the Metropolitan Division with a record of 10-1, so not many on Carolina can claim they aren’t having a terrific start to the 2021-22 season.
Zach Parise was bought out in the offseason by the Minnesota Wild after nine seasons with the franchise. He still had four more seasons of his 13-year contract he signed back in the summer of 2012, but the organization was ready to pass the torch to the next generation of players.
Parise, who is in absolutely no need of a big pay-day, signed a one-year, $750 thousand contract with his old friend Lou Lamoriello and the New York Islanders. This is Parise’s opportunity to go to a contender and compete for a Stanley Cup while also proving there is still gas left in the tank for his NHL career.
With two assists in 10 games, it’s tough to say if Parise is just off to a slow start or if this is what he is at this point in his career. Ideally, the Islanders would likely be happy with a 10-goal, 25-point season out of Parise in a bottom-six role, making the league minimum. His veteran leadership is undoubtedly a sought-after commodity in this league, and with Parise and Zdeno Chara on the roster, the Islanders have plenty.
Parise seemed frustrated with his usage in Minnesota during his final season, which included being a healthy scratch by Dean Evason. Right now, his priority might not be point totals and individual accolades; it’s likely just enjoying the game and having a chance to win. Despite the Islanders’ slow start, it’s hard to imagine thinking they won’t be a team competing for the Cup right until the end.
So far, Ryan Suter likely has had the best start of any ex-Wild player, having six points in his first 11 games with his new team, the Dallas Stars.
Suter was bought out the same day as Parise, with the exact same contract and everything. Unlike Parise, Suter was still a highly effective member of the Wild; purely his contract was the issue. In his final season in Minnesota, Suter had 19 points while averaging over 22 minutes a night in a top-four role.
Because of this, Suter earned himself a four-year contract with the Stars with an AAV of $3.65 million. The agreement will take him to the age of 40, so the Stars are betting that Suter still has a lot more to give at the NHL level.
Early indications prove that to be accurate, as he has had a strong start with the Stars. His ice time is still up around 23 minutes a night while registering 17 blocked shots. He doesn’t need to be the team’s best defenceman in Dallas alongside players such as Miro Heiskanen, John Klingberg, and Esa Lindell.
However, the Stars must be thrilled to add a defenceman for under $4 million per season who can play around 23 minutes a night and produce above half a point per game.
There’s also Carson Soucy, who the Kraken claimed from the Wild in the expansion draft. He has had two goals in his first seven games with some solid puck-possession numbers as well.
Overall, former Wild players are having some mixed results with their new teams. Players such a Suter and Cole seem to be fitting in nicely with their new teams, while Bonino appears to be struggling a bit to start with the Sharks. It’s still very early, though, so maybe we check on these players again in the new year.
Sports writer covering the Minnesota Wild. Graduated with a degree in sport media, also working with the Oshawa Generals of the OHL.