The Minnesota Wild just wrapped up an impressive eight-man draft class, and now, with the free-agent market set to open next Wednesday, they focus their attention to the upcoming group of free agents. The team has a few players set to hit free agency, although they took one of those players off the market yesterday, re-signing Marc-Andre Fleury to a two-year extension. Two players Wild GM Bill Guerin won’t be giving extensions, as relayed by Michael Russo of The Athleticare mid-season pickup Nicolas Deslauriers and Minneapolis native Nick Bjugstad.
The Wild acquired Deslauriers, 31, from the Anaheim Ducks for a third-round pick last season, and he added some grit and physicality to the bottom of their lineup. He looked like a decent fit in Minnesota, but with the pressure of the Zach Parise and Ryan Suter buyouts heavily squeezing Guerin’s financial flexibility this summer, it seems they don’t have the necessary cap room to retain him. Guerin did say that he expects Deslauriers to garner “a lot of interest,” which likely means Deslauriers has priced himself out of a return to the state of hockey. Bjugstad is coming off a year where he was a depth forward for the Wild, and he has not scored double-digit goals or more than 20 points since his impressive 49-point 2018-19 campaign with the Florida Panthers. It’s unlikely that Bjugstad sees the same level of leaguewide interest as Deslauriers when he too hits the market.
Now, for some other notes on information that has come out after the draft:
- The New Jersey Devils didn’t flinch when they saw long-time consensus number-one prospect Shane Wright Surprisingly on the board after the Montreal Canadiens took Juraj Slavkovsky first overall. They stuck to their board and selected Simon Nemec, an extremely talented defenseman and Slafkovsky’s countryman. The Devils made a bold choice, and won’t waste any time getting Nemec into the fold in their organization. As relayed by Amanda Stein of NHL.com, Devils GM Tom Fitzgerald says he spoke to Nemec’s agent and “expects to sign” Nemec to his entry-level contract this week. Stein notes that Nemec expressed a willingness to play in the AHL at the NHL Combine in Buffalo, and Nemec joining the Utica Comets for 2022-23 is beginning to seem like the most likely outcome.
- Earlier in July, we covered the San Jose Sharks’ situation with defenseman Marc-Edouard Vlasic and whether he would be bought out by the team after 16 seasons in teal. Today, Vlasic told The Athletic’s Corey Masisiak that “it doesn’t look like” he’ll be bought out and that he’s “excited” for a fresh start under a new coaching staff and a new GM in Mike Grier, who he played with for three seasons. Vlasic’s past few years haven’t been up to the standard he established earlier in his career. If the Sharks have any hope of returning to contention next season, as the organization fully intends to do, Vlasic will need to play like the $7MM defenseman he once was.