The Minnesota Wild Suck and Bill Guerin Has Nobody to Blame but Himself

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This just in: The Minnesota Wild are terrible.

On Sunday, in a matinee vs the Detroit Red Wings, the Wild lost their 7th-straight game, pushing their season to the brink of complete disaster. At 5-10-4, Minnesota has only 14 points on the season, good for 7th place in the Central Division, just 2 points ahead of the Chicago Blackhawks for dead last.

The seven-game losing streak is the longest in the NHL by two games. Anaheim has lost five-straight. But every other loss-happy team in the league is working on two, maybe three in a row. A silver lining? Not really. This isn’t a team suffering through heavy injury issues and hope is hard to come by.

Minnesota Wild have 99 problems and the cap is definitely one

Their best players are playing like crap, the defense is slow and the goaltending is leaky, at best. Cap problems, we got ’em, and those aren’t going away for another couple years. Which brings us to president of hockey operations, Bill Guerin.

Related: Bill Guerin is Screaming at Wild Players Instead of Firing Dean Evason

If you’re looking for a blog that rips the Minnesota Wild head of hockey ops for releasing Zach Parise and Ryan Suter, in exchange for cap penalties that have made roster building a much more difficult task over the last couple years, you need to go elsewhere.

Guerin’s attitude, when he took over and made those brash roster decisions on Parise and Suter, was exactly what the Wild needed. “This is about winning“, even if it means cutting stars and going into cap hell, in order to improve locker room chemistry and change leadership dynamics.

Bill Guerin losing his “it’s about winning” attitude

His downfall in 2023 is due to a departure from that ‘win at all costs’ mentality. Now, he’s rewarding aging veterans with extensions and no-trade clauses they didn’t deserve, which is harboring the same type of ‘clubhouse mentality’ that Billy was so determined to extinguish not that long ago.

Guerin signed five aging veterans, between the ages of 29 and 38 years old, to contract extensions this offseason that have them locked in through at least 2025 and in cap hell until the Parise and Suter cap penalties fall off the same season.

In the middle of last season, when the Wild surprisingly signed (38 y/o) Alex Goligoski to a contract extension, with a full no-move clause, eyebrows were raised. Eyebrow raising turned to head scratching when Goligoski sat in the press box for most of the season from there, because he wasn’t good enough to break into the top-6.

bill guerin Minnesota Wild
Per Haljestam-USA TODAY Sports

But we all looked the other way, knowing Alex was ‘one of us’ and that Matt Dumba wasn’t going to be around long-term. Then in early-May, soon after the Wild were eliminated from the playoffs, Guerin gave an extension (with no-trade clause) to (33 y/o) Marcus Johansson earlier this offseason.

Related: Wild in Advanced Talks with Tim Walz, Others on Major Renovations for Xcel Energy Center

But, given how well Johansson and Matt Boldy played together in 2022-23, there was reasonable logic there. His contract was up and the Wild needed top-6 forward help. Fine, we get it.

Contract extensions for everyone

Little did we know, however, those extensions were just appetizers for what was to come just before the Wild convened for training camp a couple of months ago. That’s when Guerin signed (36 y/o) Mats Zuccarello thru 2025-26, (32 y/o) Marcus Foligno thru 2027-28 and (29 y/o) Ryan Hartman thru 2026-27.

PlayersTERMSAGECAP%2023-242024-252025-262026-272027-282028-29
Zuccarello, MatsNo-Trade367.2$6,000,000*$4,125,000$4,125,000UFA
Foligno, MarcusNo-Move323.7$3,100,000*$4,000,000$4,000,000$4,000,000$4,000,000UFA
Johansson, MarcusNo-Trade332.4$2,000,000$2,000,000UFA
Hartman, RyanNo-Move292.0$1,700,000*$4,000,000$4,000,000$4,000,000UFA
Goligoski, AlexNo-Move382.4$2,000,000UFA
CapFriendly.com | *New contract kicks in

All three got no-trade clauses, except for Zuccy, who only mustered a 10-team no-trade list. He should probably fire his agent, given Guerin was handing out veteran extensions and no-trade clauses like cars at an Oprah show. Instead, he got a scooter.

I mean, these are vets who already look slow. Yet, their most recent contracts haven’t even kicked in yet! Foligno and Hartman are under contract for the next half-decade… Not only is signing aging veterans to bloated extensions frowned upon, when up against normal salary cap restrictions.

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It makes absolutely no sense if it puts you in such cap disaster that you can’t even field your best roster. The Wild have to keep their best and most expensive 2-way players down in the AHL, just to stay cap compliant. That means younger players who may be performing better will not be rewarded and their trajectory could take a hit because of it.

Oh, you want to trade everyone away and tank for more ping pong balls? Good luck. Who is going to trade for any of these geriatric skaters. And if there is an interested team out there, what are the chances any of them waive their no-move clauses to complete the deal?

If the Minnesota Wild want to try and turn this season around, they will have to make a drastic change. Given the aforementioned roster restrictions they are under, it’s quite possible that means a change at head coach. But let’s be real: Firing Dean Evason would make Cris Carter proud. Because everyone needs a fall guy, even Bill Guerin.

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