The Minnesota Wild has only been a franchise since the 2000-01 NHL season. Even though that is the case, they have managed to make many memorable moments for their fans, including six playoff berths, in three of which they made it past the first round. Of course, to make these memorable moments happen, there had to be many trades and signings. Here, in my opinion, are the ten best acquisitions the Minnesota Wild have ever made; between free agent signings, and trades with other franchises.
(In order from earliest to most recent)
Wes Walz – Signed
Wes Walz began his NHL career with the Boston Bruins, after being drafted by the team in the third round during the 1989 NHL Draft. He was spending most of his time on the farm teams of the four franchises he played for (Boston Bruins, Philadelphia Flyers, Calgary Flames, Detroit Red Wings), before he spent five seasons in other leagues, including Swiss-A and the IHL. When the 2000-01 season came around, the Minnesota Wild were building a roster as an expansion team, and Walz would be one of the players that they chose. He would go on to spend six seasons on the Wild roster, before retiring. Walz was a consistent player, posting a career high of 37 points in the 2005-06 season, and would be around for the Wild’s first playoff berth in 2002-03.
Manny Fernandez was acquired in a trade between the Minnesota Wild and the Dallas Stars, in which the Wild only had to give up a third and fourth round draft pick. This trade happened during the summer before the Wild’s debut season, so Fernandez was part of the original team. Fernandez would go on to post solid statistics with the Wild, splitting net time with Dwayne Roloson for his first few years with the team, but then would take over as the starting goaltender in his later seasons.
Dwayne Roloson – Signed
Dwayne Roloson would join the Minnesota Wild for the 2001-02 season, after being signed by the team. Although he shared net time with Manny Fernandez, Roloson posted excellent statistics, which would help his team make their playoff debut, and even earn him a spot on the NHL Western Conference All-Star team.
Willie Mitchell was traded to the Minnesota Wild during the middle of the 2000-01 season, as the Wild needed a solid defenseman, and he would be just that. Mitchell would spend five seasons with the Wild, and even though he didn’t score a lot, he would play the role of a great shutdown defenseman. He was a great leader for the Wild on and off the ice, helping the team to their first playoff berth, and was even named team captain.
Andrew Brunette – Signed
Andrew Brunette would join the Minnesota Wild for their second season, after being signed by the team. Brunette, or as fans called him, “Bruno”, would make a large impact on the Wild’s roster, posting a total of 321 points during his time in Minnesota. Brunette would be responsible for one of the most memorable moments in Wild history, when he scored the series winning goal during game 7 of the Western Conference Quarterfinals, ending Hall of Fame Goaltender, Patrick Roy’s, career. This goal was scored during the Wild’s first ever playoff berth, and the team would go on to make the third round of the playoffs that year.
Brian Rolston – Signed
Brian Rolston was signed by the Minnesota Wild as a free agent during the 2003-04 offseason, but did not make his debut with the Wild until 2005-06, due to the 2004 NHL lockout. The fan favorite known for his explosive slap shot spent three seasons in a Wild jersey, posting a total of 202 points. His leadership earned him captaincy with the Wild, and he would be one of the main reasons for the Wild’s playoff runs during the 2006-07 and 2007-08 seasons.
Pavol Demitra would put on a Wild sweater for the 2006-07 season after being dealt from the Los Angeles Kings. Demitra only spent two seasons with the Wild, but made a large impact while on the team. During his time with the Wild, they would make the playoffs both seasons, and he would wrack up a total of 118 points. Demitra was known for his lethal chemistry with teammate, Marian Gaborik, as the two could find each other almost anywhere on the ice, which would, most of the time, end in a goal.
Zach Parise – Signed
Zach Parise is one of the biggest, if not the biggest signing in Wild history. The Wild have made the playoffs every year since Parise has worn their jersey, and even made it past the first round twice. Parise can put the puck in the net, as he has scored a total of 156 points during his three seasons with the Wild. He is known for his fearless grit, as he is not afraid to battle for the puck, no matter how large the other player is. He is also known for his great leadership, earning the title of captain for Team USA at the Olympics. The Wild have Parise signed through what will most likely be the end of his career, so it will be interesting to see if he will be able to lead his team to the ultimate goal, the Stanley Cup.
Ryan Suter – Signed
Signed alongside current teammate, Zach Parise, Ryan Suter has also made a large impact on the Minnesota Wild system. As a defenseman, he is constantly saving goals from being scored, but he also has the ability to set up plays, as he has posted 113 points during his three seasons on the Wild; 99 of them being assists. Known for his veteran leadership, Suter has helped develop many young players, such as teammates Matt Dumba and Jonas Brodin. Suter will definitely be another key factor if the Wild win a Stanley Cup in the near future.
Although he has only spent half of a season on the roster, Devan Dubnyk has made a huge impact on the Minnesota Wild. Before he was acquired, the Wild were having a disastrous year, and their goalie situation was the main problem. Dubnyk would help turn around their season, allowing the Wild to make a second round run in the playoffs. A fan favorite known as Dub, he was able to post a goals against average of 1.78, and a save percentage of 93.6% during the regular season. This performance would earn him a nomination as a Vezina finalist, and would win him a Masterton trophy. The Wild recently re-signed Dubnyk to a six-year contract, and he will be an important piece of his team’s quest to capture a Stanley Cup.