Fixing the offense is likely to headline the Wild’s summer, but the defense is also poised to receive attention.
Jared Spurgeon will be eligible to sign a contract extension, an opportunity the Wild plans to prioritize on its offseason calendar.
“It will certainly be addressed,” General Manager Paul Fenton said. “You see how much of an impact he has on our organization.”
Spurgeon has one season remaining on his four-year, $20.75 million contract and can sign a new deal July 1. Although he’d have the option to test out free agency in 2020, Spurgeon said he wants to remain with the Wild.
“My family loves it here,” he said. “We love it here. I want to win here, so you can just go about it the way you can and let your agent do his thing.”
This past season was the best of Spurgeon’s career; he established career-highs in goals (14), assists (29) and points (43) while playing the eighth-most minutes in the NHL (1,979 minutes, 52 seconds). His 145 shot blocks were most on the Wild, and Spurgeon also had the most shorthanded ice time at 192:23.
Coach Bruce Boudreau said the 29-year-old is in the prime of his NHL career.
“Always want to get better,” Spurgeon said. “Every summer you work on things that you think can help your game get to the next level: take care of your body with working out and just different stuff but just having the excitement of coming back and proving people wrong again. So, as a team, I think everyone has to take a look in the mirror and have a great summer and come back hungry.”
Most of the Wild’s free agents this summer are restricted, a group that includes forwards Pontus Aberg, Ryan Donato, Joel Eriksson Ek, Kevin Fiala and Nico Sturm.
Fenton said the team will “most likely” work to keep all the RFAs. Aberg and Donato are arbitration eligible.
“It’s a research thing that we’re going to do and find out exactly what their value is,” Fenton said.
The team’s unrestricted free-agent list features center Eric Fehr and defensemen Anthony Bitetto and Brad Hunt.
“I certainly have interest in having maybe some of the UFAs back in some capacity,” Fenton said.
After spending last offseason recovering from a severe ankle injury, defenseman Ryan Suter is eager for a normal summer of training on the heels of playing all 82 games for the Wild.
“I haven’t been able to do much, and I think it’ll be good,” Suter said. “When I come back to camp, I’ll feel good again and feel the way it’s supposed to. … You second guess a lot of things just because you haven’t been able to do things. Just to squat and do all the stuff that hockey players need to do, I’m looking forward to it.”
Going for goals
Winger Marcus Foligno has never scored more than 13 goals in a season, but his target next season will be 15.
“As a bottom-six player, if a team has a guy get to that, it’s good for the team,” Foligno said. “That’s something I envision. I know I can get to it. I had a lot of chances this year where I feel like I could've put the puck in.”
Foligno finished with seven goals and 19 points. He made the most impact as a penalty killer alongside Fehr, a role he relished while blossoming as a leader for the Wild. And being a voice that can boost the team is another responsibility he’d like to grow in the future.
“It's more about encouraging guys and getting them feeling good and confident before games,” Foligno said. “I'd like to do more of that rather than picking guys out if they're not playing well. I'll leave that to the leadership group. I just like rallying guys and getting them ready to play the game.”
Iowa Wild forward Landon Ferraro was recognized as the winner of the Yanick Dupre Memorial Award as the 2018-19 American Hockey League Man of the Year.
The award is presented annually to an AHL player for his contributions to his local community and charitable organizations. Ferraro spent the season helping the All Heart Foundation, raising awareness about heart disease and sudden heart attacks.