Guest Blog: Assessing Fletcher’s Moves

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My name is Nick Anderson, and I've been a huge Wild fan since it's existence, however, I didn't really become the fan I am today until I went to the Wild game on New Year's Eve in 2008 against the Sharks. I remember watching most of the 2002-2003 playoff run, but that's the most I can remember about the Wild before the 2007-2008 season. The Wild game reminded me of why I had fallen in love with the game in the first place with it's fast paced action, the hitting, the fighting, and most of all, the rush you get when your team scores a goal. That one was close to being a stinker, I think Setoguchi tied it up with about 30 seconds or so left, I remember being disappointed, but then, in overtime, Koivu sent a cross-ice pass to Brent Burns who fired it top shelf over Nabokov's shoulder for the game-winner, it was the coolest experience I could remember, and then I was hooked and started following the Wild much more closely.

I thought I would take an inventory of Chuck Fletcher’s moves and give them a minus, neutral, or positive rating for each of them. It’s meant to encourage discussion. I will judge the signings and the trades he made, it’s too early to assess his drafting in my opinion. So here we go:

2009 Entry Draft:

Moves back from #12 Overall to obtain picks #16, #77, and #182.
I give this move a +. There is some question to the overall value he got here, but the move was a good one to grab more picks.

Moves picks #99 and #133 for Kyle Brodziak and #161.
I give this one a +. He got Brodziak for a cheap price. Brodziak has played well for us and most specifically lately, he has made this trade a good one.

Free Agency 2009:
Martin Havlat 6 years, $30M
This one is a neutral, but starting to lean toward positive. He had a slow start to the 2009-2010 season, but has really picked up his play leading the Wild in points. Has been great lately, but the jury is still technically out. Very close to a +.

Greg Zanon 3 years, $5.8M
This one is + to neutral. He was great in his first year here, but hasn’t been as good this year, however, it’s a good deal for a #4-5 defenseman who’s great on the PK.

Petr Sykora 1 year, $1.2M
-. It was a low risk move, but it was basically a failure of an experiment. The good part is that it was only a 1 year deal.

2009-2010 Season:
Alexander Fallstrom, Craig Weller, and 2011 2nd Round Pick for Chuck Kobasew.
I’d rate this as a -. Weller was a salary dump, and Fallstrom hasn’t been great in college, but it’s still giving up a young prospect which were “gold” according to Fletcher. The 2nd Round pick is the piece that hurts the most now because Kobasew’s tenure as a member of the Wild has been derailed by injuries and not getting much of a chance only getting 4th line minutes. He has looked much better lately.

Benoit Pouliot for Guillaume Latendrese.
+. This was a great trade that brought in a young player who bloomed playing with Havlat. Easily a +.

Nick Leddy, Kim Johnsson for Cam Barker.
-. This one has been talked about a lot. Cam Barker has been a bust plain and simple. There’s many of us who just want him traded to re-coup something for him. Nick Leddy is still a ways off from making a real big impact in the NHL, and Kim Johnsson is done, but I think this was a bad trade.

Eric Belanger for a 2nd Round Pick 2010.
+. Belanger was a good FO man and getting a 2nd round pick was good value. Not much else to say about it.

Re-signs Marek Zidlicky 3 Years, $12M
+. Zids has been a great part of our blueline, but part of me wonders what we could have received for him at the deadline. He is a 2nd pairing guy who is starting to play well on the defensive end. It’s probably more neutral to + because it depends on what we think we could’ve gotten with that cap space.

Re-signs Cal Clutterbuck 3 Years, $4.2M
+. Cal brings so much to this team in terms of energy, and this current season, goal-scoring. If he scores more than 10 a year, this contract is a bargain. We all know how important Cal is to our team.

2010 Offseason (Pre-Draft):
Brad Staubitz for a 5th Round Pick 2010.
-. Staubitz brings toughness and signed for a small price, but he wasn’t worth a pick in my opinion. I’d rather have the pick, and I thought we could have picked up a tough guy type in FA and not give up a pick, but it just seems against Fletcher’s “gold” reference.

2010 Entry Draft:
Picks #69 and #99 for #58.
+. Jason Zucker projects to be a great pick at this point, I give it a positive now, but it’s subject to change.

2010 Free Agency And Beyond:
Signed Matt Cullen 3 years, $10.5M
Neutral. He might be overpaid, but he has helped the team a lot on the PP. It remains to be seen at this point if this one is a disaster.

Signed Eric Nystrom 3 Years, $4.2M
-. It seems like this signing might have been okay if Nystrom could chip in some goals. Yes, I like his hard work, but it only gets you so far before you have to produce some results. I feel some of our guys in Houston could have filled this role cheaper.

Signed John Madden 1 Year, $1.25M
Neutral. He is a nice 4th line center, and has playoff and Cup experience. I’m indifferent on this signing. It’s kind of a “meh” move to me, but I do like the fact that he addressed the horrible need at center.

Re-signs Mikko Koivu 7 Years, $47.25M
+. He may overpaid, but Koivu is the captain and heart and soul of this team. He couldn’t let him walk away after the way Gaborik walked away. He will be with the Wild until he is 34, so I think it’s a good deal for many reasons.

2010-2011 Season:
Signed Jose Theodore 1 Year, $1.1M
+. He has provided great depth, but he was kind of forced into it. Either way, it was a good deal.

I left out some of the minor signings. As you can see, Fletcher has made some very good moves, but has also made some bad ones. It just so happens that his worst trade also probably has the biggest impact on the team in terms of trading for a Cam Barker and giving Nick Leddy. I also think he hasn’t made moves that are super detrimental to the team, and haven’t put the team over the top.

I think if you consider everything, Fletcher has done a mediocre job and the Wild are pretty mediocre themselves. We will see how his drafting record end up sorting out, which we all know is the biggest thing to building a successful team. With the trade deadline approaching, he faces some tough decisions to trade away some of his upcoming UFA’s (Antti Miettinen, Andrew Brunette, Chuck Kobasew, etc.), or add some players to try to push for a playoff spot (only 1 point out at the time of this writing).

It should be a good 2nd half, so let’s enjoy it. Go Wild!


  1. It's a FIFTH ROUND PICK for Staubitz when everyone and their dead grandmother were clamoring for a "tough guy who could actually play a little". How likely it is that a fifth round pick will blossom into someone who even steps foot on NHL ice? I don't know either but I think it's less than a half percent. We got a minimum-wage 7th forward who is capable of skating for essentially nothing. Keeping the pick is like holding on to a random powerball ticket when someone offers you $10 for it. It's another low risk move to fill two gaps in our team makeup: team toughness and (more importantly to Fletcher) work ethic/attitude.

    Nystrom...Same thing. Our team was a prancing bunch of lethargic ninnies as a whole. Instead of looking for goals, try to keep in mind why Fletcher signed the players and either judge them according to whether they're accomplishing their purpose or judge Fletcher on the overall wisdom of his strategy in picking them up. In other words: Should fletcher have tried to "give the kids a chance" and completely ignore the poor attitude evidenced on the ice instead of bringing in veteran grit?

    It irks me to no end when people expect that Nystrom was brought in to contribute on the scoresheet. Calgary found out he was incapable and worked with him to alter his game to what it is now: energetic, aggressive, and mobile checking forward. You can tack on "with some puck skills" but really it isn't a significant part of why they brought him in. Robbie Earl is about the only guy who compares to him in Houston and Earl is far, far more ineffective in playing that role.

  2. rynryn,

    I get what you are saying, I'm just thinking that at the time, we still don't have a monster prospect pool, and I think that we could have filled Staubitz's role with an in-house option in Kassian. Why give up an asset when you don't have to?

    Secondly, I guess I should have defined my parameters for judging more clearly, but I just kind of took a general approach of how the players are performing, and I think that for $1.4M in Nystrom, we should see more than 1 empty net goal. I know why Nystrom was brought in, but I think he just has to be better, and I felt that we could use a Gillies or someone of that type of player instead of handing Nystrom 3 years.

  3. I think you were clear enough--i was just being picky because it's a sore subject.
    For the price, sure, you might want more from Nystrom on the stat sheets so I agree that cost-wise, dollar/point, he doesn't look great. But then neither does Koivu. While he has fewer points than even I expected I still think he fulfilled his purpose. Makes perfect sense to call it a (-) though if you think the same results could have been had from someone else for cheaper. I noticed when we picked him up a lot of flames fans were sorry to see him go (but didn't want to keep him at that cost, either) and from the few games I've watched of calgary they're just as listless and lifeless as we were. These guys do have impact. If Nystrom and Kobasew are out there skating around full bore all night it's going to embarrass Koivu and Havlat into putting forth something like the same effort. That's the theory, anyway, and I believe Fletcher felt he needed that attitude coupled with veteran savvy or we would have risked ending up with a slower version of the Edmonton oilers--they're flying around the ice at least looking like they're trying but they can't play as a team so nothing happens. I think i said on the boards that I believe Gillies is destined for a Nystrom role--but he still has to grow into it. Watching him play is almost painful the way he looks lost and indecisive on NHL ice.
    It was a good original piece--i don't mean to come off as though i didn't appreciate it.

  4. The biggest drawback regarding the Zidlicky resigning is how much we spent on him.