The Minnesota Wild are in a very fortunate position at this point. They have plenty to work with on their roster, acquiring three extremely marketable players over the course of the past year, as well as some young players who will become key role players next season. They also don’t have too much to worry about in regard to free agents on their roster.
The main concern are the two mainstays on their roster that will each hit the market as an unrestricted free agent this summer. Both Pierre-Marc Bouchard and Matt Cullen will be looking for new deals. Given their limited cap space to work with, as the salary cap is coming down, one would have to imagine that only one will be around next season.
On one hand, you have Bouchard. He’s been with the club since they drafted him, overcame some serious concussion woes, but did struggle at times over the course of the 2013 season. He’s still only 29, though, which means he could be looking for a slightly larger contract than the likes of Cullen.
On the other, you have Matt Cullen. While he’s getting up there in age, he was a key to the success of their offense throughout the season. Simply put, when Cullen was in the lineup, the Wild won games. When he was out of the lineup, they did not. Bouchard, who served as a healthy scratch on more than one occasion, doesn’t carry the same weight.
This may not necessarily come down to whether or not Minnesota wants to sign one or the other, but only retaining one would make sense as there are multiple similarities between the two. They’re both versatile players, capable of playing out on the wing or in the middle, and their production is about the same as well.
It could come down to a matter of cost. Assuming Cullen doesn’t decide to call it a career, he’ll be back on a one or two-year deal, likely for much less than it would cost to sign Bouchard. If it comes down to it, Cullen could be the guy and Bouchard could be looking for a new home on the market, which could probably be found rather easily.
Of course, if Cullen decides to hang up the skates, that presents a different situation entirely.