Minnesota Wild: 'We have a lot of growth potential' ... and money for talent
Apr 10, 2012 (Menafn - Pioneer Press - McClatchy-Tribune Information Services via COMTEX) --The Wild hope to add one or two top free agents this summer and have plenty of room beneath the NHL salary cap to do so, general manager Chuck Fletcher said at a postseason news conference Monday, April 9, at the Xcel Energy Center.
With Minnesota's payroll heading in the direction of the cap floor of 48.4 million, Fletcher said, he has plenty of flexibility to sign or acquire high-priced talent through trade. Fletcher said he's ready with his sales pitch to available players.
"We have a lot of growth potential," Fletcher said. "The things we do well, we do well. Our weaknesses are obvious and transparent. But we're a team (for which) one or two players can make a big difference."
He said the team's leadership, goaltending and expected depth from the addition of some key young players next season should make a difference, too.
Besides making the playoffs, the Wild's top goal last summer was to establish an identity, Fletcher said. He said one was forged on intensity and hard work, which showed early in the season, then again late when captain Mikko Koivu returned from a shoulder injury.
Coach Mike Yeo said that when enough of the Wild's top players were healthy, that identity became evident.
"We do play a certain way," he said. "Our standards are very high here now."
Mostly, the Wild need goals. They ranked last in the NHL in scoring this season.
Adding a free-agent forward such as Zach Parise would provide an instant boost. But Fletcher said
current young players such as forward Nick Johnson and defenseman Marco Scandella will bring more offense because of experience, and arriving prospects such as Mikael Granlund, Brett Bulmer, Jason Zucker, Charlie Coyle and a few others also should help.
"We've been upfront from day one that we're going to try to add as many young guys as possible," Fletcher said. "The only difference last summer is, we traded a core guy off the team in Brent Burns to try to accelerate that. When you do that, you're taking a little bit away from your hockey team in the present. That's a price we paid to add some more young assets."
For Burns, San Jose sent the Wild forward Devin Setoguchi the rights to former first-round draft pick Coyle and another first-round pick that they used to take Zack Phillips.
"Clearly, our best days are ahead of us," Fletcher said.
___ (c)2012 the Pioneer Press (St. Paul, Minn.) Visit the Pioneer Press (St.
Paul, Minn.) at www.twincities.com Distributed by MCT Information Services
Copyright (C) 2012, Pioneer Press, St. Paul, Minn.