Bill Guerin has been anything but timid in his first 13 months with the Minnesota Wild and the general manager is off to an aggressive start to the off-season.
The Wild finished sixth in the Central Division and lost to the Canucks in the qualifying round, which resulted in Guerin making several notable roster moves as he looks towards 2020-21.
Guerin acquired forward Nick Bjugstad in a trade with the Penguins, signed defenceman Jonas Brodin to a seven-year contract extension, sent veteran centre Eric Staal to the Sabres in exchange for Marcus Johansson, and announced the team wouldn’t be re-signing longtime captain Mikko Koivu.
“With all due respect, the Minnesota teams (of the past) they’ve been good teams it’s just been a bit of a struggle to get a little further in the playoffs, so my job is to try to make the team better and sometimes change is good and a lot of times it’s necessary,” Guerin said during an appearance on Hockey Central. “I’ve been trying not just to make my mark but to make some improvements. I’ve got a group of guys that I work with on a daily basis that help me and we (make) educated decisions. We’ve got a great pro scouting staff and a lot of great advice. We’re trying.”
The Wild have missed the playoffs only once since 2012 although they’ve advanced beyond the first round just twice during that time.
“If you keep doing the same thing year after year after year it kind of gets tired and you need a little bit more of a spark,” Guerin said.
Guerin mentioned that telling Staal about the trade to Buffalo was a difficult conversation to have but he likes the skill set and versatility Johansson brings to the Wild.
Johansson had 30 points in 60 games in 2019-20 -- not quite the 19 goals, 28 assists Staal had in 66 games with the Wild -- yet Guerin said he currently sees the Swedish forward slotting in at centre even though he can also play the wing.
“We have a good team, we have good players here but every once in a while you just need to mix it up a little bit,” Guerin added.