Top 5 Thursday: Free Agent Signings In Minnesota Wild History

Author's note: After watching High Fidelity yesterday and remembering how enjoyable it is to make top five lists with friends, I'm going to try something new. Every Thursday I'm going to come up with a top five list that involves Minnesota Wild current events. Is it original? Hell No. Does that matter?

The inaugural High Fidelity rip off is timely with July 1 approaching on Sunday and the Wild looking to make a splash in free agency. If all goes right, some combination of Zach Parise, Ryan Suter and Justin Schultz will be wearing Iron Range Red and be the best free agent acquisition in Minnesota hockey history. Before that maybe possibly hopefully happens, here are the "top five free agent acquisitions in Minnesota Wild history."

Top 5 Free Agent Acquisitions In Minnesota Wild History

1. Brian Rolston

Oddly enough the top free agent signing in Minnesota Wild history is also one of the most forgotten. Signing a three-year contract right before the NHL Lockout in July 2004, Brian Rolston didn't make his Minnesota debut until the following year. Once he did, however, Rolston ended up being a major difference up front. As one of two players in Wild history to score 30 goals in a season (Marian Gaborik is the other), Rolston accomplished the feat in all three seasons and helped lead the team to their first (and only) Northwest Division title. Unfortunately he could not come to terms at the end of the deal and signed a four-year, $20 million contract with New Jersey.

Production-wise, there is no competition.

2. Martin Havlat

While Brian Rolston may have been the most efficient free agent signing for Minnesota, Marty Havlat is the biggest name. A former thirty-goal scorer with the Ottawa Senators and coming off 29 goals with the Chicago Blackhawks the season before, Havlat signed a six-year, $30 million contract in 2009 to replace the departed Marian Gaborik as a scoring threat. Once with the Wild, however, things did not work out as well. Marty did not share chemistry with captain Mikko Koivu causing the pair to be split up and a public outburst from his agent did not help things in 2010. Although he led Minnesota in goals with 22 in 2010-11, the team had seen enough. After two years, the Havlat Era was over as GM Chuck Fletcher sent him to San Jose in exchange for Dany Heatley huck during the 2011 offseason.

3. Kim Johnsson

I'll admit, this is not the best Kim Johnsson memory...

Then-Minnesota GM Doug Risebrough put the NHL on notice when he went on a spending spree after finishing 5th in the Northwest Division in 2005-2006. The crown jewel of this class was former Philadelphia Flyers defenseman Kim Johnsson, who earned a four year, $19.4 million contract. While he never put up the offensive numbers that he did in Philadelphia (averaging 25 points during his time in Minnesota) and caused the ire of Wild fans, Johnsson's puck moving skills and defense were underrated. In fact, the team is still looking to replace them two years after trading Johnsson and Nick Leddy to Chicago for Cam Barker.

4.Andrew Brunette

Andrew Brunette first joined the Wild in 2001 and made an immediate impact, leading the team with 69 points. Two years later Brunette scored the biggest goal in franchise history when he retired Patrick Roy with a Game 7 overtime winner against the Avalanche. Ironically, he signed with Colorado after the lockout and helped the Avs defeat Minnesota in the first round of the 2008 NHL playoffs before signing a three-year, $7.5 million contract with the Wild as soon as possible. While the second stint did not go as well as the first - Minnesota missed the playoffs all three seasons - Brunette continued to be a first line winger next to Mikko Koivu and scored 25 goals in 2009-10.

Neither contract was for big money although the impact Bruno had is unquestionable. If anything, he gets the nod for being Minnesota's free agent Grover Cleveland.

5. Mark Parrish

Signing a contract the same day as Johnsson was Bloomington native Mark Parrish. The forward's two seasons are notable for having two playoff appearances and a penchant for being in coach Jacques Lemaire's doghouse. Despite that, Parrish still put up 19 and 16 goals, respectively, and looked to be part of the Wild's core with his five-year, $13.5 million contract before his final three seasons were bought out in 2008 (Parrish still counts for close to a million dollars in their salary cap).

While it ultimately didn't work out, Parrish is notable for being the first big name local free agent to sign and while it didn't work out the way Minnesota wanted, BNMP did pave the way for other Minnesotans like Matt Cullen.

Agree? Disagree? Have an opinion or memory? Tell me in the comments.


  1. Come on, man. . . reverse order! Build the suspense!

  2. Good article, per usual. Reverse the order, like said. But its sad 2 of the 5 didn't work out. Hopefully we can change it with 2 new signings.

  3. Fine, fine I'll do reverse order next week.

    Had someone mention Niklas Backstrom on Twitter, there's probably a case for him on the list. He technically was signed as a free agent and has produced like an all-star despite being being a cliff note when coming over from Finland. So that's why he's not on the list - production-wise he's a top-5 signing but even guys like Brian Rolston who were smaller signings ended up being bigger deals initially.