This offseason for the NHL has been pretty crazy for some teams and while the Minnesota Wild didn’t make as many waves, they did make several adjustments to their roster that will shape this upcoming season. Some of these moves were necessary and in the works for some time while others took fans by surprise. The Wild lost some of their core veterans in those moves but also added some youthful talent that will serve them well in the seasons to come.
Wild’s Worst Offseason Move
Sometimes it’s easiest to get the bad news out of the way first and the same can be said for bad trades in the NHL. At first, things seemed to be going well for the Wild this offseason, as they re-signed Marc-André Fleury to a two-year contract and their goalie tandem seemed like a great pairing. They already had reliable veteran Cam Talbot and then securing Fleury, it was set for them to split the ice time 50/50.
However, everything changed after that new contract for Fleury was signed. Talbot was not happy about the situation and when things couldn’t be resolved, the Wild traded him to the Ottawa Senators in exchange for Filip Gustavsson. The trade may not appear that bad, they traded a goalie for another goalie but they also traded away experience for inexperience.
Gustavsson has only played 27 games through his short career with a record of 10-13-3 compared to Talbot’s 396 games and a record of 201-142-34. Of course, every player has to start out somewhere and Gustavsson is an okay backup but with Fleury’s age, he’ll be expected to play more games than he has in his entire career so far. That level of pressure is a lot to put on a goaltender who’s played less than 30 games in the NHL and hasn’t been a full-time starter before.
This trade was the worst move this offseason for the Wild because they lost essentially the best goalie pairing they could’ve wished for. Their team was pretty set with scoring, defense, and even goaltending until that trade hit, and destroyed that plan. Now they have to hope that Gustavsson can stand up to the challenge and Fleury stays healthy to keep their goaltending intact.
Wild’s Best but Controversial Trade
It’s time to switch from the really bad trade to the most questioned trade this offseason which was sending Kevin Fiala to the Los Angeles Kings in exchange for Brock Faber and a first-round pick in the 2022 NHL Entry Draft. It became apparent as last season went on that the Wild would not be able to re-sign Fiala without giving up other key players crucial to their future.
However, that didn’t stop many from thinking the Wild should’ve found some way to keep Fiala even though he was out of their budget. The main reason it was hard to see him go was his crazy point production last season, as he played in all 82 games, and scored a career-high 85 points. It was the second time in his eight-year career that he tallied above 50 points and the first time he scored over 30 goals.
Those numbers were great but the problem was they aren’t consistently high, they go up and down. Of course, there’s always the possibility that Fiala could just be getting started with the great production, but it’s not guaranteed. It was time for both the Wild and Fiala to move on from each other and get fresh starts.
With the move, the Wild were able to free up a lot of cap space to sign other players plus they locked up a strong future defenseman in Faber. They also put that 19th overall first-round draft pick to good use in securing Liam Öhgren, a promising young forward who they signed to a three-year entry-level contract this summer. He recently was on the roster for Team Sweden at the World Junior Championship, where he played in five games and scored seven points. Wild fans will have to wait a little bit to see these two players in action but they got a great deal for the future in exchange for Fiala.
Wild’s Offseason Rollercoaster
When the offseason began, losing Talbot wasn’t even a worry for Wild fans, but just over a month later they lost their veteran and gained a young unproven goaltender. Their goaltending is now a big question mark heading into the new season and it may take some time to get sorted out. Letting Fiala go may not seem the greatest, but in the end, it was the best thing for both sides.
The Wild also gained two new players who will be key to their future success. Other than those two moves, they were relatively quiet with the exception of a few prospects re-signing, moving on from Dmitry Kulikov, and bringing in Sam Steel. All the moves were necessary for the Wild to keep heading in the right direction and build their youthful roster. They will have it rough on the goaltending front to start the season but hopefully, things work out and they can be successful once again.
Mariah Holland is a contributing Minnesota Wild writer for THW. She’s been covering the Wild at THW since October of 2020 and specializes in game takeaways and weekly check-ins. She is always looking for different angles to cover the Wild and dig deeper into the stories surrounding the team to help fans connect on a more personal level and to keep an eye on the latest follow her on Twitter @MariahEStark.