One of the hallmarks of Doug Risebrough’s not-so-illustrious tenure as GM of the Minnesota Wild was bring first round prospects directly to the NHL, with diminishing returns as this process went on. Things worked out well early with Marian Gaborik making an impact right away, and Mikko Koivu, Pierre-Marc Bouchard, and Brent Burns managing to develop at the NHL level. However, most Minnesota Wild fans are understandably cautious about this process due to the spectacular failure of James Sheppard, and the disappointment of watching the already-limited Colton Gilles having his development completely stunted on the bench.
In fact, perhaps the biggest difference between DR and Chuck Fletcher’s philosophies rests in how they progress their prospects to the NHL. In the three years since Chuck Fletcher became GM, only one of the players drafted have played in more than 9 NHL games. And with 12 games to his name, Matt Hackett is hardly a seasoned veteran. Fletcher has committed to a patient approach to prospect development.
I fully didn’t expect any major signings in the NHL (Parise and Suter), so I had no problem sleeping in, and had no problem meandering my way to Twitter.
So imagine my surprise when I logged on to Twitter to find the Wild had signed Suter, and Pittsburgh and Detroit were out of the running.
I wanted to get this out even Suter sooner, but I’ve had to calm down my own giddiness. I’m seriously giggling for no reason and jumping around like I was asked by the quarterback to the prom (but a nice, cute, humble one, not a GHB-weilding douchebag). I have a very heavy Wild coat that I’m considering wearing, even though it’s 72 degrees outside. This is a very, very big deal.
Oh, yes, the Wild are here. And they’ll be relevant for a while.
I think the biggest cause for celebration was most eloquently stated by Chris Long of KSTP: “It took a while, and an incredible amount of work by Chuck Fletcher, but (the Minnesota Wild) are finally out of the hole Doug Risebrough dug them into.”
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.