Koivu Extension Latest in String of Bad Moves that Led to Chuck Fletcher’s Demise

Mikko Koivu #9 of the Minnesota Wild celebrates his goal with Jonas Brodin #25, Zach Parise #11,Charlie Coyle #63 and Ryan Suter #20 in NHL action against the Detroit Red Wings at Joe Louis Arena on March 20, 2013 in Detroit, Michigan. (March 19, 2012 – Source: Tom Szczerbowski/Getty Images North America)

Mikko Koivu #9 of the Minnesota Wild celebrates his goal with Jonas Brodin #25, Zach Parise #11,Charlie Coyle #63 and Ryan Suter #20 in NHL action against the Detroit Red Wings at Joe Louis Arena on March 20, 2013 in Detroit, Michigan. (March 19, 2012 – Source: Tom Szczerbowski/Getty Images North America)



Monday morning, the Minnesota Wild declined to offer Chuck Fletcher a new contract, ending his 9-year stint with the Minnesota Wild. You can read Eric’s breaker about it, from earlier today, off of the original report from Michael Russo and The Athletic. But, I want to talk more about the moves he made that got us here, specifically the unmatched Zach Parise and Ryan Suter contracts, then later sealing the deal with Mikko Koivu.

All three deals essentially sealing our fate with those three until they are in a wheelchair and all of our young talent has gone through its prime.

Sure, part of why Fletcher is out of Minnesota is because the young core he accumulated (via draft, trade and free agency) underperformed to expectations once postseason play began, season after season (Zucker, Brodin, Coyle, Nino, Dumba, Granlund). But, wouldn’t it be nice if we didn’t have to rely on those young guys becoming stars in order to take the next step. What if we had some cap flexibility to go and get that goal scorer that could help put us over the top?

Fletcher overestimated the increase in salary cap when he signed Suter and Parise to career deals and that now chokes out most free agent opportunities every offseason. If you watched the playoffs this year, you again saw Parise out of the lineup due to injury (this surprises nobody) and even Suter, who’s been reliable as any defenseman in the league, was lost due to injury for this postseason run.

Chuck’s extension of Mikko Koivu last offseason through 2020 at the age of 35 was his latest in terrible contracts. After a career year in 2017, many fans and some analytics experts cheered. Happy to keep “a home-drafted elite defensive center” in Minnesota for the entirety of his career. Well, isn’t it nice that we are all about warm and fuzzy feelings here in Minnesota.  I’m sure the rest of the Central Division appreciates it. I’m not really sure why anyone is upset when the Wild lose out in the playoffs if that’s how you want to operate in the offseason.

However, some of us here at MSF (Me) believed it was a huge mistake from the beginning. The NHL isn’t a charity. You get paid for what you will bring to the team over your new contract. Not for what you’ve done for a franchise in the past.

The extension of Koivu, alone, should have led to Fletcher’s exit. The NHL is a speed league and Koivu is the opposite of speed. His faceoff percentage dipped with the new rule change this season (54.8% or above since ’13-’14 down to 51.4% in ’17-’18) and his pathetic display during the playoff series vs the Jets proves my point. As I said above, there were a few of people who disagreed with me.

So, what now?

The Wild need to re-tool and they need someone who, not only has an eye for talent, but can help develop it.

Paul Fenton is the lead candidate, according to Michael Russo. Not only is he a former NHLer, but he’s been groomed by one of the premier NHL GM’s, in David Poile. If you look at how well Nashville has drafted over the years and how well they have developed their players, it’s easy to see why Fenton, who has been with Nashville since 2003, is the man to beat.

Poile/Fenton have been so good at identifying trade thievery and drafting underrated prospects it’s hard not to get excited if Fenton were to take the job. If he does, it’d be a nice change of pace to see the Wild make some smart hockey trades and get this ship out of mediocrity.

Oh, and please strip the C off of Koivu.

Thanks.

Zak Klosowski (@AldenZacharySki)
MinnesotaSportsFan.com
(Eric Strack also contributed to this story)