The Minnesota Wild started the day by submitting their offers to free agent studs Zach Parise and Ryan Suter. Knowing that both players will take the time to ponder their futures, and may not make a decision for a couple days, the team then went about addressing other concerns in the organization. The Wild have singed center Zenon Konopka from the Ottawa Senators and Torrey Mitchell from the San Jose Sharks.
Konopka gets a two year deal, with a cap hit of $925K. A lock for the fourth line center position, Konopka is a hard nosed, enforcer type player that also has a strong ability in the faceoff circle. He is not going to add to the offense, but he will serve to shut down the opposition's top lines, and will be sure to protect the heads of Mikko Koivu and Dany Heatley. The Star Tribune's Mike Russo tweeted this quote from Konopka shortly after the signing:
Konopka tells me if Koivu & Heatley want to sit down and read the paper at center ice, they should be able to w/o anyone touching em #mnwild
That quote has already cemented Konopka's status with the fans, you can count on that.
Mitchell gets himself a 3 year deal with a cap hit of $1.9 million. If Wild fans don't know who he is, he is the player that was tangled with Kurtis Foster when Foster broke his leg a few years back. Mitchell will likely slot in on the third line, along side Kyle Brodziak. The speed Mitchell brings to the team will be welcome, and he should fit well into Mike Yeo's hard forechecking system.
The Wild are not done in free agency, but the moves they have made thus far are certainly moves that address concerns. The fourth line last season was made up of AHL level players, and that just cannot happen. These moves also signal that players like Brett Bulmer and Johan Larsson will be allowed to develop properly in Houston, something that should be very welcome to Wild fans.
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