Back when the Wild was 20-7-3 Kyle Brodziak was one hot topic. Specifically his impending free agent status.
Kyle's an unrestricted free agent after this season, and he's carrying a $1.15M cap hit this season.
He's played in all 41 games for the Wild this season, amassing 11-9-20 (-7, FWIW) and 37 PIM. He's not a scorer and not expected to produce, but his offense dried up coinciding with the Wild's rash of injuries to their forwards that meant Brodziak had to take on more minutes on higher lines, facing better opposition matchups.
He's a prototypical third liner. Checker, hard worker, gutsy - if not endowed with higher end scoring skills. Nothing wrong with that at all. He seems to be a popular and well-respected member of the team.
So what, went the thinking earlier this season, was Fletcher waiting for? Sign him already! Don't let such a valuable role player get within sniffing distance of July 1st and get ideas about testing the market in his head! Show him the love and sign him. I admit I echoed those same thoughts.
Coincidentally the Wild just had a very good showing at the World Junior Championships in Alberta. Even though the Americans didn't fare that well as a team, the Wild had significant representation on several of the best teams in the tournament. Names like Granlund, Brodin, Larsson, Zucker and Coyle were consistently on the lips of people following the tournament this year.
And that's not to mention the guys currently in Houston or St. Paul like Wellman, Gillies, Palmer and Bulmer.
Presumably Brodziak's going to warrant a raise from his current salary. What's the ceiling on that raise? As much as $2M per year?
There's no questioning Brodziak's heart and his passion. I love what he brings to the team, that he leaves it all on the ice every shift and that he's willing to do whatever the team asks of him. I'd love to have him on the team....but...
But, I don't think we want to go back down the road of having a roster full of expensive third liners, and if some of those aforementioned kids are going to deserve shots at a spot on the big team next year then do we really need Brodziak? If he was still going to be making $1.15M, then sure. But at $1.5M? $1.75M? $2M?
I've changed my tune on Brodziak. Now I want Fletcher to wait until the deadline and see if someone is willing to overpay to acquire him via trade, and, if not, then wait until 7/1 and see what the market for him will be.
We have a lot of cap space right now. We have recently shed some contract albatrosses on the lower lines. We finally have prospects in the system who will garner looks at the NHL level. We don't need to overpay for a third liner - even one as likeable as Kyle Brodziak.