The Wild have made no secret for months that they are trying to make a splash in free agency, attempting to woo Zach Parise and/or Ryan Suter. Seeing as each would appear to be a coup on their own, naturally Wild fans have been waiting with anticipation for July 1st to happen for months now.
So, when the Wild announced they signed two free agents, Zenon Konopka and Torry Mitchell, it was a bit of a surprise. Not that it’s out of the realm of possibility that a team might sign a role player or two on the first day of free agency, and not only because fans were looking for the big ticket item, but because it wasn’t so obvious how much uncertainty there was in the bottom 6 for next year. I guess the holes that could only be filled by Parise were what I was focusing on.
Welcome to a new feature “Goodbye ________”, where we (I still don’t know why I use “We” instead of “I”) give a farewell/eulogy of sorts to a team that the Wild will no longer have as a division rival. As you might know, Matt Kassian and the top line bid the Edmonton Oilers goodbye in style, winning a 4-3 game last night that had everything. It had pretty goals, ugly goals, goals scored by Minnesotans for you silly Minnesota fetish fans, two fights, and most importantly, the home team winning. Yay.
But, weirdly, the Wild don’t play the Oilers for the rest of the season (assuming they do not meet in the playoffs), so last night was their last night playing each other as division rivals. Let’s take a look at what we had, and what we’ll lose.
Hordichuk: "I wish I knew how to quit you." (Taken from Yahoo!)
Josh Harding was signed to a 1 year, $750K deal after Jose Theodore left this summer. Everyone thought it was a fine move. Harding got a year to showcase himself him after losing a contract year to injury, and the Wild got a solid backup who they had thought at one point could be their starter.
And then Harding blew up. Harding has been dominating at backup duty, putting up a .932 SV% over 13 games and 11 starts, and would likely be the starting goaltender right now if the current starter, Niklas Backstrom, wasn’t putting up Vezina numbers too. Together, they’ve become arguably the best goaltending tandem in the league (only Boston can claim they’re better), propelling the Wild to the top of the NHL.