Wild owner Craig Leipold vows team isn't rebuilding, will be aggressive in free agency

Craig Leipold basically promised to land a big free agent this summer.
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After trading away core players Nino Neiderreiter, Charlie Coyle and Mikael Granlund, Minnesota Wild owner Craig Leipold sent a video message to season ticket holders urging them to hold firm in their commitment to the team and trust that big things are coming. 

“With all the moves that we made in the last 10 days, we’re not done,” Leipold said in the video, which was recorded on Feb. 25 following the NHL's trade deadline.  

“We plan to make some noise this summer. Just so we all understand, this is not a rebuild. Look at our team: we are ready to play right now. We are building on the fly, and that's kind of our mantra right now." 

Minnesota has won four in a row, largely due to improved goaltending from Devan Dubnyk and a speedy spark from newcomers Ryan Donato and Kevin Fiala, whom the Wild acquired in trades involving Coyle and Granlund. 

"We have now more cap space for next year, we're excited about that," said Leipold, hinting at the $19+ million the Wild can now put toward resigning key players like Donato and Fiala, in addition to being bigger players in free agency. 

"The savings that we have received in the last 10 days will be used to acquire other assets.”

Four straight wins have pushed the Wild up to 68 points, in control of the second wild-card spot in the Western Conference but only a tiebreaker ahead of ninth-place Colorado (68 points) and one point behind seventh-place Dallas (69 points). 

It's clear that Wild brass is pushing a youth movement down fans' throats. General manager Paul Fenton raved about the future core of the team consisting of six players age 22 or younger, and Leipold did the same in his video to fans. 

The six: Joel Erikkson Ek, Jordan Greenway, Luke Kunin, Donato, Fiala and Kirill Kaprizov. 

“We have this great core of young players who almost all of them were first-round players," said Leipold. "And then we have Kirill Kaprizov, who is playing in Russia. He will be here probably in another year, so we’re in the process right now of doing some really exciting things with our team and the direction we’re going in, and I think we have a lot to look forward to.”

Leipold closed his four-minute video talking about the Stanley Cup. 

“Rest assured, we are committed to winning," he said. "All of our decisions are based on one thing, and that’s how we bring a Stanley Cup to this market."

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