ST. PAUL, MN -- With a disappointing season in the rear-view mirror, the Minnesota Wild is looking forward to the road ahead at an improved 2016-17 season.
With long-time Head Medical Trainer Don Fuller and Strength and Conditioning Coach Kirk Olson reportedly let go late last week, the changes within the organization's brass continue to unfold.
It is only a matter of time before changes come to the Wild locker room and one name continues to surface as one that may have to look for a new club before September.
Forward Thomas Vanek may be bought out by the Wild this off-season after two seasons with the organization. The 32-year-old has one-year and $7.5 million left on his current contract with Minnesota.
Despite racking up 93 points over the course of two seasons, the veteran forward and former college hockey star at the University of Minnesota with his high-risk and high-reward game style may be too much of a gamble for the Wild moving forward.
His production may have only dropped slightly over the past few seasons but his lack of defensive responsibility and willingness to play to the coach's systems are the main reasons his name continues to arise in a potential buyout.
A buyout of Vanek's contract would make sense for the organization on a few different principles, but primarily to gain much needed cap space.
According to League rules, to buyout his contract would cost the Wild 2/3 of his $7.5 million salary, which would equate to $5 million spread out over two seasons.
Minnesota would save that $5 million in cap space this season which would push the teams cap space to an estimated $12.5 million. Vanek's cap hit would equal $1.5 million for the 2016-17 season and $2.5 million for the 2017-18 season.
Minnesota still has one-year remaining on Matt Cooke's buyout, which will cost the team $1 million in cap space next season. Wild GM Chuck Fletcher could use that cap space to make another big splash in free agency, something he has done well over the past few summers.
With the team in reconstruction mode, it would make sense to free up money to better improve a team that has its playoff window closing fast.
Nick Maxson is the Minnesota Correspondent for The Fourth Period. Follow him on Twitter.