The third General Manager in Minnesota Wild history was named on Monday as Paul Fenton takes the helm after Chuck Fletcher’s contract was not renewed.
Via: Minnesota Wild/Wild.com:
Minnesota Wild Owner Craig Leipold today announced the hiring of Paul Fenton to a multi-year contract as the team’s General Manager and Alternate Governor. He will oversee the Wild’s hockey operations department including all matters relating to player personnel, coaching staff, scouting department and minor league operations.
So there it is, the front runner from the start gets the job. Fenton spent over 15 years with the Nashville Predators, with his latest title being Assistant General Manager to David Poile. Fenton has had a huge hand in what is now known as the best defensemen group in the NHL, drafting guys such as Shea Weber, Ryan Suter, Seth Jones, Ryan Ellis, and Roman Josi. That’s a pretty good track record. Weber and Suter were both drafted in 2003, that’s how you keep your job for plenty of years.
So now the question is, what will Fenton do with the current Wild roster? Owner Craig Leipold has stated that he is not interested in the slightest in a rebuild. So now that Fenton with some obstacles, the first being the contracts of Matt Dumba and Jason Zucker.
Let’s start with Dumba. The 23-year old right handed defenseman who at one point was destined for Vegas in the expansion draft (hand up, I thought that was the play also), ended up having a monster season in the final year of his contract. Dumba ended up with 14 goals and 36 assists for 50 points, which was good for 19th most by a defenseman this past season. That’s 6 more goals and 5 more points that Dustin Byfuglien. Love or hate him, Dumba is about to make some big money, and it’s hard to argue with it. He should make over $5.5 million I would guess.
Jason Zucker also decided to have a career year on the last year of his contract. Two years ago, Zucker agreed on a two-year “bridge/prove it” contract to see if he could be worth of some real money. Well he did it by scoring 55 goals in the past two seasons. It’s been rumored that Zucker would take a little less money for more years. That makes this a little easier. The 26-year old from Vegas is looking around the $5 million mark if he gets a longer deal, probably 5 years or more.
That’s going to be around $11 million spent on two of our guys. The good news there is that right now we have about $7.5 million in cap space according to Cap Friendly. The cap is expected to rise significantly this offseason. Add that and most likely a dump of the Tyler Ennis contract ($4.6 million) and we got a little room to wiggle. Is it going to be a tight cap year for the Wild again in 2018-19? Of course it is, but it’s workable.
It’ll be interesting to see what Fenton does in the NHL draft as well. The Wild have a first round pick and (3) third round picks to work with in the early part of the draft. Then comes the questions about Russian star Kirill Kaprizov, who can’t come over until his KHL contract runs out in another two years.
Looks like a full plate for Paul Fenton, I have a feeling he’s going to be just fine with it though.