St. POLL, MN – The Minnesota Wild stocked their net with the three-time Stanley Cup winner on the trading deadline, bringing in Marc-Andre Fleury to put together an accomplished goalkeeper with All-Star Cam Talbot along the best regular season in franchise history.
General Manager Bill Guerin said Tuesday that The Wild would prefer keeping the pair in place, despite their lack of salary cap space and a recent reminder that such enviable depth doesn’t mean much during playoffs.
“There is no controversy. There is no drama. We love both guards. We love both,” Guerin said. “We want both, and we think we can be successful with both.”
Fleury secured his credentials in time on the net in the first five matches of the first round against St. Louis. Once Wild decided it was time to turn to Talbot, it was too late. He finished the Blues wild in six games.
“Obviously I was disappointed that I couldn’t play more in the playoffs, but who isn’t? We are competitors. You want to play,” Talbot said. “But the coaches had to make a decision, and I don’t think there was a wrong decision. Obviously, you’re trading with a guy like that with his pedigree and his past, why don’t you start him in the first game?”
Talbot went 13-0-3 in his last 16 pre-season games. He allowed four goals in the sixth game. With one year left on his deal, Talbot said he expects to return for 2022-23 and hasn’t shown bad faith about being mostly left out of the playoffs.
Because it’s not about me,” Talbot said. “It’s about 23 or 24 other men in that room.”
The 37-year-old Florey went 9-2 scoring 2.74 goals for an average and 0.913 savings in 11 regular season starts. He got into a trade with Chicago that would cost Wild a second round of draft pick. In the playoffs, he conceded 15 goals in five matches.
Florey’s contract carried a maximum of double that of Talbot this season, but he will be a free agent in July. Being away from his family after the sudden team changeover was emotionally draining, but he cared about the chemistry within the team, the culture of the organization, and support across town.
“It was nice to live this,” Florey said.
Wild has 2021 first-round draft pick Jesper Walstedt waiting behind them. The 19-year-old Swede has signed his entry contract this season and is likely to go on to a development season at AHL in Iowa.
But there’s no reason why Wild should once again be pressing for a deep run in the playoffs, despite the heavyweight brought on by acquisitions by former franchise players Zach Parise and Ryan Suter. They will each cost more than $6.3 million for Wilde’s hat next season.
“We’ll deal with it,” Guerin said. “I think we’ll be good next year. I’m doing it.” “Do we like having this cover space? Of course we would. But we knew exactly what we were doing.”
Even if neither goalkeepers return, Wild will have a tough time keeping left winger Kevin Fiala, who would be a restricted free agent after 33 goals. He was healthy in the playoffs.
“It’s a shame to go out this way,” Fayala said.
Perhaps for good, though, at the age of 25, he picked up 85 points in 82 games.
“We would like Kevin to come back,” Geren said. “I don’t know if that is possible.”