NHL free agency doesn't officially begin until 11 a.m central time but the Minnesota Wild already has its toes in the water with a few free agents, according to Michael Russo of the Star Tribune.
Minnesota only has $12 million in cap space so don't expect the Wild to break the bank with any free agents. Although, we've already seen a couple of blockbuster trades this week which is a good sign for the Wild.
Here are 5 players the Wild could target heading into free agency.
Kyle Okposo, LW
- With Steven Stamkos resigned, Okposo may be the most sought after free agent on the market. He's only 28 years old and has posted three straight seasons of at least 50 points.
- Okposo is also from St. Paul, playing college hockey with the Gophers, so he could be interested in returning to his hometown but will he take a discount? That remains to be seen.
Eric Staal, C
- Staal spent 12 season in Carolina but was traded to the Rangers in February and is coming off his worst season to date. Staal averaged 70 points between 2005-2012 and those days may be behind him, but he could sign an affordable deal.
- Rick Curran, Stall's agent told Russo: "There’s mutual interest and consideration that there is a fit with Minnesota." Curran also added that Staal was extremely impressed with the Wild.
David Backes, C
- Backes' point production dropped off a bit but he still scored 21 goals last season, while leading the Blues to the Western Conference Final.
- Backes also has ties to the State of Hockey, playing high school hockey at Spring Lake Park and college hockey at the Minnesota State-Mankato.
Loui Eriksson, LW
- Eriksson is coming off his best season in four years, netting 30 goals while producing 63 points.
- Minnesota was linked to Eriksson at the trade deadline last February but talks fell through.
Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, C
- Nugent-Hopkins is not a free agent but his name has been mentioned since draft day as trade bait. The Oilers traded Taylor Hall on Wednesday, acquiring the right-handed defenseman they were looking for.
- But it doesn't sound like the Oilers are done making moves yet, Minnesota has many defensemen to offer. In fact the Wild were talking with the Oilers about acquiring the center at the NHL Draft, according to Jonathan Willis of the Edmonton Journal.