Thursday, June 19, 2008


This probably isn't good news for Minnesota Wild fans.
Rolston maintained that he wants to stay in Minnesota, but the Wild has to hit his “market value,” which is expected to be substantial regardless of his age in the year of an average free-agent class.
Since I talked to Brian Rolston yesterday and couldn’t get Doug Risebrough on the phone, today I sat down with Risebrough for his rebuttal. Risebrough said there is a difference in opinion as to what Rolston’s market value is.

You can read all about it in Friday’s paper, but he said in his opinion, market value is different from team to team. He essentially said if Rolston wants to play for more money on a losing team, he’s got that right. But the Wild has to place a value on him, and if Rolston wants to play for what Risebrough considers a winning team in a great market and wonderful place to live, he may need to make a decision and leave some money on the table.
Emphasis mine.

If Doug Risebrough said this, he's an idiot. Plain and simple.

Brian Rolston has scored 30 goals in three straight seasons. The list of guys who have done this and are going to be available in the offseason is pretty thin. Admittedly, this means Rolston's market value is bound to be higher. There are a number of NHL teams looking for goal scoring this summer, and not a ton of guys who can deliver that.

Furthermore, the Wild suffered a dreadful goal-scoring slump in their first-round playoff loss to Colorado. While Rolston's poorly-timed and sometimes poorly-conceived decisions with the puck were partially to blame for some of these problems, this really isn't the time to dump a guy who has scored 96 goals in a Wild uniform.

If Risebrough is dumb enough to let Rolston go, who replaces him on the top (or second) line? Benoit Pouliot? Aaron Voros? The Fridge?

The history of this organization suggests that a loss like Rolston will not come with any kind of corresponding move. Same for Pavol Demitra, who is (thankfully) almost a lock to depart. While I won't mind one bit if Demitra leaves (especially if he goes to screw up division rival Vancouver's offense), but that's another hole somewhere on the Wild's top two lines (depending on the result of Jacques' most recent line juggle).

Do they go after Olli Jokinen? That's a lateral move, but certainly an acceptable one. How about Ryan Malone? Sure, Bugsy has Pittsburgh roots, but he also has Minnesota roots, having produced a stellar career at St. Cloud State before turning pro. But while Malone has definitely grown as a player, and he had a super postseason, his career high for goals is 27, which happened to come in a contract year. He's the classic example of a guy you let someone else overpay (Hi, Columbus!).

If this notoriously cheap franchise is ever going to take a serious step in the right direction, they have to go after someone in free agency to bolster this roster and restore some faith in this franchise. The fans here are great, but they won't stick around forever. Assuming that they will is a big mistake.

No comments: