The first day of NHL free agency brought the first wave of change to the Wild’s roster this offseason, as the team added right wingers Mats Zuccarello and Ryan Hartman.
Zuccarello gets a five-year deal worth $30 million.
“Minnesota was one of the teams that I felt wanted me the most,” the 31-year-old said during a conference call from his home in Oslo, Norway. “I’m a guy when you show me that you really want me, that’s humbling for me and that means that it’s a good chance for me to go there.
“I’m super excited to come to Minnesota. It’s a great organization.”
Wild general manager Paul Fenton, at an afternoon news conference, said he was comfortable with his roster and expected Zuccarello and Hartman would be the extent of his NHL player signings.
Hartman, a depth player, will get a two-year contract for $3.8 million.
“I want to bring that tenacity and that grittiness to this team,” he said. “I feel like it’s a really good fit for me.”
Before these signings, the Wild had approximately $19 million in cap space but the team still needs to re-sign its restricted free agents — a class that includes forwards Joel Eriksson Ek, Kevin Fiala and Ryan Donato.
This is Zuccarello’s third stop in the past year; he split an injury-shortened 2018-19 between the Rangers and Stars, totaling 12 goals and 40 points. Once he returned to Dallas’ lineup after getting hurt in his first game post-trade from New York, Zuccarello was solid — chipping in four goals and 11 points in 13 playoff games.
Zuccarello, who is only 5-foot-8, said he feels young and better than he did five years ago, and believes last season might have been his best. “I’m a small body,” he joked. “It doesn’t take a lot to keep this body in shape.”
Overall, Zuccarello has 114 goals and 355 points in 511 career games (mostly with the Rangers). A left shot, his best season came in 2015-16 when he scored 26 goals and reached 61 points.
Look for Zuccarello to slot in the Wild’s top-six on the right side, while Hartman is poised to fill out the bottom-six.
A first-round pick in 2013 by the Blackhawks, Hartman played parts of four seasons with Chicago before getting traded to Nashville. This past season, the Predators traded him to the Flyers and he finished the campaign with 12 goals and 26 points. Last week, Hartman was traded by Philadelphia to Dallas for Tyler Pitlick and became an unrestricted free agent when the Stars didn’t extend him a qualifying offer.
Through 245 career games, Hartman has recorded 42 goals and 89 points. His most productive season came in 2016-17 when he tallied 19 goals and 31 points with the Blackhawks.
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