With the first wave of free agency over, big-ticket players have found new home across the NHL. The remaining free agents make for intriguing choices among NHL GMs. Whether they’re high-risk, high-reward players like Andreas Athanasiou or high-scoring threats like Mike Hoffman, the free agent market is still in good hands. For Minnesota Wild general manager Bill Guerin, the pick of the litter is still out there.
Today, we’ll be taking a closer look at three potential names that would fit well within the Wild. From trade deadline dealmakers to potential long-term roster fits, the Wild could be the perfect new home for these free agents.
Three Free Agents the Minnesota Wild Should Pursue
1. Andreas Athanasiou – C/LW
Our first free agent, Andreas Athanasiou, had nothing short of a rough season last year. Between the Detroit Red Wings and the Edmonton Oilers, he only scored 26 points in 55 games. Even playing on Connor McDavid‘s wing wasn’t enough to help his point total; he managed just two points playing nine games for the Oilers. Having said that, he’s just one season removed from his 30 goal, 54 point breakout in 2018-19. Signing Athanasiou on a low-risk, team-friendly deal could prove to be a massive boon for the Wild.
Athanasiou is wickedly fast and wildly confident. His highlight reel-worthy goals and lightning-quick speed make him a threat whenever he sets foot on the offensive end of the ice. While he won’t leap off the page defensively, he’ll prove to be an excellent depth threat on any roster. Pairing Athanasiou with the proper players will allow him freedom to play into his strengths. It won’t be easy to build a line around him, but if done successfully, Athanasiou would work wonders with the Wild.
2. Ilya Kovalchuk – LW
Next on the list is Ilya Kovalchuk, who would serve as a perfect role model for Kirill Kaprizov. Despite his age and slower play style, Kovalchuk makes for an ideal fit with the Wild, who are in the midst of a rebuild. As a mentor for Kaprizov, Kovalchuk can teach the young Russian the ins and outs of playing in the NHL while still serving as a solid depth piece for the team. Additionally, he would make for an intriguing trade deadline piece to a team looking to compete for a Stanley Cup title.
Kovalchuk, who has managed 876 points in 926 NHL games, is a highly intelligent player with strengths across the board. While Kovalchuk won’t leap off the page statistically, he’s still a highly competent player on his own. At best, Kovalchuk can mentor Kaprizov into a more familiar environment. At worst, he’ll make for an excellent trade piece during the deadline. Signing Kovalchuk is a win-win no matter where he winds up.
3. Anthony Duclair – LW
Anthony Duclair achieved a career high with the Ottawa Senators last season, scoring 23 goals in 66 games. For one reason or another, the Senators chose not to qualify Duclair, allowing him to become a free agent. At 25 years of age, Duclair is a young, competent winger with a penchant for scoring. In a middle-six role with the Wild, Duclair would have plenty of opportunity to score while smoothing out some of the rougher edges of his game.
Despite his inconsistencies, Duclair is still a very strong, solid player that has experience on five NHL rosters. He’s taken a long time to become the player he is, but that shouldn’t disqualify him from a role on an NHL team. Playing on the Wild’s roster would give Duclair a chance to prove his long-term value on a team. Plus, his strengths would easily bolster the Wild’s scoring opportunities on the power play. This signing would be a win-win for both sides.
Who do you think should sign with the Wild? Is the roster already good as-is? Let us know in the comments!