Marian Gaborik checked the rest of the way out of Minnesota on the first day of free agency, ultimately signing not with Vancouver as rumors persisted, but with the New York Rangers – the team he had his 5-goal game against. Yeah, good luck with that. MSG is where overpaid individual stars go to get injured and underachieve.
But this left Chuck Fletcher with a big hole. With all of his injury and attitude issues, obviously Gabby was the biggest talent. What would Doug Reisbrough have done? Likely nothing. But the new guy looking to make a name found someone interested in playing in Minnesota. Someone who needed a place to play after his team signed Marian Hossa. A guy who is a frequent Twitterer (@martinhavlat). Marty Havlat was probably the Hawk’s most talented player until the new kids arrived in the last couple years. He scores in pretty ways. He now has needed playoff experience, reaching the West Finals last season with the Hawks and scoring 5 goals during their run. And the biggest thing that makes him better than Gaborik in my eyes…he wants to be in “Minny.”
He may not have the same speed or talent, but I believe a team attitude will be so much more valuable to the Wild in this season and even more in the next few seasons. On a line with Mikko Koivu – there’s a lot of potential. I gotta believe he’s a 30-goal scorer if he stays healthy (yes, there’s injury baggage here too).
The Wild also went hard at Mikko Koivu’s older brother Saku. He did not sign with them, instead signing with the Anaheim Ducks. Sounds like the biggest reason he didn’t sign was he didn’t want to interfere with what Mikko has going on here. Mikko has turned into the #1 leader on this team and Saku apparently wanted to stay out of the limelight – allow Mikko to run the team. Pretty noble thing, but unfortunately it leaves the Wild a little short at center (pun intended, if Pierre-Marc Bouchard sees alot of time at the position). We will need to watch how that plays out.
Overall the team is improved personnel-wise over last season. It’ll take some time for them to gel, and possibly one more signing next summer, but I like the direction so far.
Coming next: Step 4 – Finally Roll Out an Alternate Jersey