Wild Times: Fernandez Traded; Koivu and Skoula Resigned

Manny Fernandez traded to Boston on Sunday.
The Wild signed Mikko Koivu and Martin Skoula to extended contracts this weekend.

Manny Fernandez was traded to the Boston Bruins for prospect Petr Kalus and a fourth round draft pick.

Kalus was drafted in the second round of the 2005 draft out of the Czech Republic. Last season, Petr got his first stint in the NHL when he appeared in 9 games for the Bruins. He scored 4 goals and added an assist while he averaged just over nine minutes of ice time. He spent the majority of the season in the AHL with the Providence Bruins, where he tallied 13 goals and 17 assists in 43 games while accumulating 110 penalty minutes.

As I mentioned last night, this trade accomplishes a couple of things for the Wild, it frees up space under the salary cap for a possible run at a free agent. It clears up the goalie situation for the near future, and the Wild pick up a physical forward who has demonstrated some scoring ability.

Mikko Koivu was signed to a four-year deal worth $13 million.

The deal is reportedly structured as $2.7 million for the first year, $3.3 million for the next two years and $3.7 million in the final year of the contract.

Mikko was a first round draft pick in 2001 and after developing in the Finnish leagues for a few years, he saw his first NHL action in the 2005-2006 season. This year, in his second season, Koivu played in all 82 Minnesota games, and had 54 points (20 goals), improving by 33 over the previous year’s campaign (6 goals, 15 assists in 64 games). After the season Koivu played with Finland in the World Championships and scored a key overtime goal against Russia in the semifinals to send his country to the gold-medal game.

This contract doesn’t come as any great surprise. The Wild have locked up one of their emerging prospects for four more years. Hopefully, he will continue to improve and increase those point totals throughout the span of this deal.

Martin Skoula was signed to a two-year deal worth $3.6 million.

In 2006-2007, Martin Skoula was a pretty average defenseman for the Wild. He was second on the team in ice time to Kim Johnsson as a defenseman. He played the majority of his ice time even strength or on the penalty kill. He was the fifth choice for the Wild as a defenseman on the power play. He didn’t score a goal last season, but contributed 15 assists (5th among Minnesota blueliners). You can see about where he fit in the defensive corps by looking at the team goals against while Skoula was on the ice.

Defenseman Gm Ev-IceTime

Carney 80 13:15 1.7

77 13:49 1.9
Foster 57 13:20 2.0
Johnsson 76 17:09 2.1
Skoula 81

16:58 2.1
Schultz 82 16:34 2.1
Nummelin 51 15:02 2.7

This contract represents a slight raise for Skoula, as he was paid $1.6M last season. I don’t think this has too much impact on the Wild. The front office probably looked at what defensemen were available and how much they would cost, and figured Skoula would give them enough minutes at a high enough level that they would be better served pursuing a free agent elsewhere.

These were the first of a few new contracts the Wild will be offering this off-season. On the horizon, Wes Walz and Todd White will be on the market as free agents, at which point they are most likely done in Minnesota. Other contracts to keep an eye on are the restricted free agents. Bouchard, Boogard, Schultz, Foster, and Harding have all received offers. If they don’t accept them, they will be headed to arbitration in the near future.

The shortest off-season in professional sports is off and running, I’ll try to keep you updated as the 2007-2008 Wild take shape.

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