I know that the Minnesota Wild aren’t a team people really clamor for information about in a huge way, at least not in the way that say the Penguins or Capitals turn internet browsers into ravenous fiends, but they make news on occasion. Like today for instance, they re-signed forward James Sheppard to a one-year deal worth $805,000. Michael Russo at the Star-Tribune got to ask general manager Chuck Fletcher about this move, which, to say the least, is curious.
Basically, the Wild wants internal competition in camp. Cody Almond had an injury-plagued year, and who knows if Casey Wellman will be ready? So for a team short on centers, Fletcher didn’t think it would be wise to throw away a 22-year-old first-round pick. Also, what if Sheppard is an asset that can be moved for something or thrown into a deal that could sway it over the top? To have just thrown him out didn’t seem to make sense to Fletcher.
Mind you, the Wild aren’t spending a ton of money on Sheppard and yes, he is still quite young and could be productive. Wild fans, however, are not amused in the least. Take a look at what Brian Reynolds at Hockey Wilderness are saying about this.
I would like to remind you all that if you work very hard, keep your nose to the grind stone, out perform everyone of your peers for the remainder of your working career, you are unlikely to make much more than James Sheppard will next year for sucking at what he does for a living.
Hockey Wilderness head man Nathan Eide also had a more colorful sentiment for James Sheppard:
**** James Sheppard.
Who knew that a lack-luster young forward could cause such a stir. Then again, perhaps this is residue from the Marian Gaborik separation, or the Jacques Lemaire departure or even the Benoit Pouliot hangover (which was likely cured by Guillaume Latendresse). One way or another, perhaps we should hope for some good fortune for the folks in St. Paul lest they become the NHL version of the grumpy old man chasing those darn neighbor kids off their lawn.