In June 2009, Chuck Fletcher looked over his newly inherited roster as the new general manager for the Minnesota Wild. What he saw was a complete mess that needed an overhaul.
The previous regime, lead by Doug Reisbrough, had completely gutted the Wild's farm system to get players who were either no longer on the roster or didn't fit in the Wild's overall scheme.
In addition, the Wild's best player, Marian Gaborik, was headed toward free agency and was unlikely to return. This left the Wild without players who had goal-scoring ability.
There was quite the job in front of Fletcher that day, but fast-forward three years later, and he has put the final pieces in place for the Wild to become a long-term Stanley Cup contender with the signings of Ryan Suter and Zach Parise to identical 13-year, $98 million contracts.
This wasn't a spur of the moment decision to grab the two best free agents on the market. Fletcher had to plan for the cap room and make sure that he had solid players around the new cornerstones for the franchise to be a viable contender.
That started with rebuilding the Wild's minor league system.
Fletcher has done an outstanding job not only adding players through the NHL draft (Mikael Granlund, Mathew Dumba and Jason Zucker to name a few) but also getting several prospects (Charlie Coyle) via the Brent Burns trade.
This steady stream of prospects should make their way to the Wild in the near future and help out a team that is suddenly loaded at the professional level.
With the youth in the Wild's system, this is a team that's not built for a two- or three-year window.
This is a team that will be a contender in the Western Conference for several years to come, and it's possible that they can bring the Stanley Cup to Minnesota for the first time ever in the near future.
Like the new article format? Send us feedback!