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The Crowded Locker Room

Posted 12:45 PM ET | Comments 1
An NHL team is allowed to field a team of 23. That's 12 forwards dressed, 6 defensemen and 2 goaltenders. Currently, the Minnesota Wild has a team of, seemingly, 18,000! Ok...Ok...Maybe a little less than that. As of the Vancouver game, however, they have a team of more than 23. Here is a list, included with what their contract is looking like:

Forwards (15):
Marian Gaborik - 2/3 yr $6.5M
Pavol Demitra - 3/3 yr (second w/ Wild) $4.5M - UFA
Brian Rolston - 3/3 yr $2.432M - UFA
Eric Belanger - 1/3 yr $1.75M
Pierre-Marc Bouchard - 1/1 yr $2.6M - RFA
Mikko Koivu - 1/4 yr $2.7M
Branko Radiovoijevic - 2/2 yr $.680M - UFA
Stephane Vellieux - 3/3 yr $.595M - RFA
James Sheppard - 1/3 yr $.850M
Matt Foy - 1/1 yr $.506M - RFA
Derek Boogaard - 1/3 yr $.750M
Todd Fedoruk - 1/1 yr $.875 - RFA
Aaron Voros - 1/1 yr $.495M - RFA
Mark Parrish - 2/5 yr $2.65M
Dominic Moore - 2/2 yr $.700M - UFA

Defense (8):
Nick Schultz - 1/1 yr $1.85M - UFA
Brent Burns - 1/1 yr $.875M (Contract extended for 4 years after this season)
Kim Johnsson - 2/4 yr $4.8M
Martin Skoula - 1/2 yr $1.7M
Keith Carney - 2/2 yr $2.1M - UFA
Sean Hill - 1/1 yr $.475M - UFA
Kurtis Foster - 1/1 yr $1.025M - RFA
Petteri Nummelin - 2/2 yr $1.2M - UFA

Goaltenders (2):
Niklas Backstrom - 1/2 yr $3.1M
Josh Harding - 1/2 yr $.700M

Now, looking at these numbers, the Wild have quite a few decisions to make in the coming off season. More than likely, the free agents that will be targeted by the Wild will be Demitra and Rolston at forward (both of whom could be due for a raise) and Schultz at defense (who has all but come out and said that he doesn't believe he'll be here next season). Even with the impending free agency of these players, it is unlikely that they will be moved as all three are key parts to the Wild. The most likely players to be moved, based on these numbers, would be Dominic Moore and Branko Radiovoijevic at forward and Keith Carney, Petteri Nummelin and Kurtis Foster at defense.

But who is likely to be moved and who should/will be moved are two entirely different scenarios. The Wild's lack of depth at the center position has been made even worse by the retirement of Wes Walz and the current injury to Mikko Koivu. So much so, in fact, that both Pavol Demitra and Brian Rolston have gone back to playing the center position in the last few weeks to augment those losses. Because of that, it is fairly apparent that Moore will not be moved, as he has good chemistry with both Demitra and Gaborik, as well as being able to win key face offs. Foy is unlikely to be moved, not only because of his inspired play as of late, but also because he would have to clear waivers in order to make it down to the minors. Fedoruk is also unlikely to be moved because of the same reason.

Now, who are the forwards that I think will not be in a Wild uniform by the end of the season? Simple. Branko Radiovoijevic and Derek Boogaard. Many Wild fans will surely be up in arms about the latter of the two, but the reason for this is simple. In fact, the Vancouver game of last night is a prime example of why "The Boogieman" may be on his way out of Minnesota. Three seconds into the game, Aaron Voros dropped the gloves, fighting with Jeff Cowan. Not only did he drop the gloves, he scored the game winning goal as well. This also hasn't been a rare occurrence for the Wild's newest talent, as he has amassed 31 PIM, 4 goals, 2 assists and a +4 rating in just 11 games. On top of which, he holds a team high shooting percentage of 30.6%, scoring on 4 of his 13 shots taken, all this while averaging just 9 minutes of ice time per game. On the other side, Derek Boogaard has played 20 games for the Wild this season, amassed 52 PIM and a -3 rating, all while playing a monstrous 3 and a half minutes per game. The difference between these two players is staggering, as Boogaard rarely sees the ice and contributes little to nothing to the team, while Voros has proven that he can fit the enforcer role, the energy player role and the scorer role all within the same game.

Meanwhile, on defense, the return of Sean Hill from his suspension, coupled with the rejuvinated play of Keith Carney as of late could leave Nummelin and/or Foster on the outside looking in. Hill has looked very good (albiet rusty) in his first few games in a Wild sweater, and Carney seemingly has turned a corner as far as his play this season is concerned. My large concern here is that the Wild may attempt to move Carney as the season progresses, due to the fact that he is in the final year of his contract and is expected by many to retire at season's end. My feeling, as many other Wild fans do, is that we should move the black sheep of the defense, Martin Skoula. He is still relatively young and could garner some interest; however, Lemaire continues his love affair with Skoula, and he will likely remain untouched by season's end.

In all, the Wild will likely need to do some juggling in order to keep the players on the roster that they want, and that have been helping this team in the last few games. Likely, one or two players who have become regulars for the Wild in the last year will be moved or waived, and I would not be surprised if the player is not someone that Wild fans would expect to be moved.
Filed Under:   NHL   Wild   Boogaard   Voros   big team  
December 4, 2007 3:06 AM ET | Delete
Great blog, benz. Frankly, I don't share your willingness to keep Carney. IMO, he hides most of the time, but when he screws up, it's HUGE and at the wrong time. If it were up to me I'd move him. Otherwise, I think you're spot on. Any sense of how Kalus is coming along? I know the Boston fans feel like they gave up a lot in him for the Manny trade. I think he may fit the more physical Voros/Fedorick/Boog team.
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