#mnwild sign center Freddy Gaudreau. 2 years, $2.4M ($1.2 AAV), as we’ve predicted. Dean Evason loves him from their time together in Milwaukee.
— Michael Russo (@RussoHockey) July 28, 2021
Frederick Gaudreau to the Minnesota Wild
With Gaudreau, the Wild add some centre depth to their team. Gaudreau has played for two NHL clubs, most recently with the Pittsburgh Penguins, where he bounced back and forth between the lineup and taxi squad in 2020-21. The native of Bromont, Que. recorded 10 points in 19 games for the Penguins last season. It was a year that saw career highs in points assists and most importantly for the Wild, face-offs (53.7 percent).
Back in 2016-2017, Gaudreau got his big breakthrough. After posting 25 goals and 48 points in 66 AHL games for the Milwaukee Admirals, the former Voltigeur was called up to the Nashville Predators. Gaudreau made his NHL debut during the Predators’ run to the Finals. What’s more, he became the first player since 1944 to score his first three career NHL goals in a Stanley Cup Final. Overall, Gaudreau has recorded 4 goals and 2 assists in 14 career Stanley Cup Playoff contests.
What This Means for the Future
This certainly isn’t the big-name centre Wild fans were hoping for, but Gaudreau provides some nice defensive depth through the middle. The six-foot 179-pound centre will likely fill the shoes of Nick Bonino as a bottom-six shutdown player. As a result, the Wild have essentially signed a cheaper but less productive version of him.
— JFresh (@JFreshHockey) July 28, 2021
The question is what does this mean for Nico Sturm and the Wild? Nico put together a solid rookie season last year and with the Wild parting ways with Marcus Johansson and Nick Bonino, all signs were pointing towards Sturm to take the next step in his development. With this signing, Sturm will most likely continue to be their 4th line centre.
You would have to think the Wild are still without a number one centre unless they believe Victor Rask is that guy. But what about the Wild’s number one prospect and 2020 9th overall selection Marco Rossi, you ask? Well, Rossi will likely not be in the Wild’s lineup come opening night but will certainly be a part of the team for more than half the games next year.
As of right now, the Wild’s centres are Joel Eriksson-Ek, Rask, Gaudreau, Sturm, and possibly Nick Bjugstad. Therefore, when Rossi is completely cleared-to-play and is deemed ready, he will likely take Victor Rask’s spot in the top-six.
Minnesota is probably not done just yet with free agency. Without Soucy, Menell, and Suter they will look for at least one more defenceman. But who knows. Wild GM Bill Guerin is on a mission and we should just sit back and enjoy the ride.