With the long holiday weekend going on you could have easily missed that NHL free agency started last Saturday morning. The local squad didn’t have much to do via free agency as they made most of their moves via trade, but one depth signing was of particular note for Gopher fans:
Home sweet home! #mnwild agrees to terms w/Eden Prairie native, Kyle Rau on 1-year, 2-way deal ($700,000/$200,000)→ https://t.co/ksFJdPqYxf pic.twitter.com/9tOTaesTQR— Minnesota Wild (@mnwild) July 1, 2017
That’s right, former Gopher captain Kyle Rau signed a one year two-way deal with the Minnesota Wild on Saturday. Rau will most likely start the year in Des Moines with the Iowa Wild, but will have a good chance to be called up to the big squad if the injury bug hits. Of course Rau all ready has one of the more memorable goals in Xcel Energy Center history:
I just think most Gopher fans would love to see the dice roll one more time in a sweater with Minnesota on it again.
Rau was not the only former Gopher on the move in free agency. His former college teammate and recent teammate with the Springfield Thunderbirds (the Florida Panthers AHL affiliate) goalie Adam Wilcox signed a one year deal with the Buffalo Sabres.
Goalie signing!— Buffalo Sabres (@BuffaloSabres) July 1, 2017
We've signed a one-year deal with Adam Wilcox, a 24-year-old Minnesota native & alum of @GopherHockey. pic.twitter.com/K8irmHlxR8
Wilcox will most likely be the #1 goalie for the Sabres AHL affiliate the Rochester Americans. But like Rau if the injury bug hits, Wilcox could see find himself in the NHL relative quickly.
Defenseman Seth Helgeson made it a trio of former Gophers on the move when he left the New Jersey Devils to sign a one year contract with the New York Islanders.
#Isles Transaction: The team has signed defenseman Seth Helgeson to a one year, two-way (NHL/AHL) contract. pic.twitter.com/VOIq6SXob8— New York Islanders (@NYIslanders) July 1, 2017
Helgeson played in nine games a year ago with the NHL Devils, and played another 48 for their AHL affiliate the Albany Devils. Helgeson will most likely bounce around between the Islanders and their AHL affiliate the Bridgeport SoundTigers.
One last former Gopher made news. While he is not changing teams, former Gopher All-American defenseman Mike Reilly resigned with the Minnesota Wild for a 2-year $1.45 million dollar contract. Reilly spend the majority of the last two seasons in Iowa with spot duty with the big club. However, with the Wild trading defenseman Marco Scandella to the Buffalo Sabres last week, a spot is open in St. Paul if Reilly can win it.
Hopefully all four of these Gophers will see significant NHL action next season.