Paul Fenton sucks, you know it, I know it, and Minnesota Wild owner Craig Leipold knew it long before he made the ultimate decision to fire him.
Craig Leipold (will be referred to as Ol’ Craig from now on) knew at the end of a disappointing 2018-2019 season, that many in the organization had lost faith in General Manager Paul Fenton. Exit interviews with players and staff made it abundantly clear that people wanted a change and let’s be honest here, it’s pretty easy to see why people would have issues with the way Fenton was running the team.
Here are just a few examples of Fenton’s bad decisions:
· His 2018 first round selection (24th Overall) Filip Johansson didn’t even make Team Sweden’s world junior roster. That’s right... Fenton used our first round pick on a player who didn't make SWEDEN’s junior roster.
· Trading Nino Niederreiter for Victor Rask, a player who has never broken 50 points in a season. Based on all the metrics, this is a obvious downgrade. Rask is the same age as Nino, and this move didn’t clear much cap space either.
· Wild owner Ol’ Craig Leipold and coach Bruce Boudreau both had goals of making the playoffs. So, trading Grandlund for a prospect who needs a few years to develop into the 'Grandlund' level of a player, did not sit well with either of them. While the Wild did get a good, young player in return in Kevin Fiala, it just didn’t make much sense given the goals of the owner and coach.
· The same could be said about the trade between Charlie Coyle and Ryan Donato. We acquired a good, 23-year-old, but it was inconsistent with the organizational goals at the time.
· Then, after trading away several core players for younger prospects, he then resigns an aging Eric Staal, to a 2-year deal. It made no sense for Fenton to resign Staal after trading away our playoff hopes last season. It would have made more sense at that point to go for the complete rebuild and trade the 34-year-old (who will turn 35 next month) for a prospect.
People wanted change so what did Ol’ Craig do?
He decided to keep his longtime personal friend... as the General Manager. Which gave Fenton the opportunity to make large changes to a team that missed the playoff’s last year. WHAT A GREAT DECISION!!!!!
Fenton went on to have a decent draft, but, as expected, ruined it all during free agency. Despite, trading core players for youth and outright claiming the his goal for the Wild was “to get younger, faster and more skilled,” he goes ahead and signs the 32-year old, Mats Zuccarello, to a five-year $30 million deal and averaging $6 million per year.
How do you claim to want to get younger and faster, and then pay someone $6 million per year, until they are 37 years old??? I didn’t even mention that Zach Parise (35) and Ryan Suter (34) still have 6 years left on their deal.
Free agents Anders Lee, Joe Pavelski or Matt Duchene, all would of been more beneficial to a team that needs a primary goal scorer, a role Zuccarello never has had to fill.
Well after the Zuccarello signing Ol’ Craig must of realized he screwed up.
Fenton was all over the place; no coherent strategy was visible, and a team that had made the playoff’s each of the previous 6 years before Fenton took over, is now potentially looking at a major rebuild.
This is all on one person, Ol’ Craig Leipold. The signs were there, people were not happy, and Fenton was not working out. So why on earth did he not fire Fenton right away??? Instead, you fired a GM a month after you let him run your organizations draft and free agency periods. As a result, Wild fans don’t have too much to look forward to this year and new Wild GM Bill Guerin, has inherited a mess.
God I hope I’m wrong.