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New Wild GM hoping to add 'finishing touches' to roster

Fenton says Minnesota close to contending for Stanley Cup

by Jessi Pierce / Correspondent

ST. PAUL, Minn. -- Paul Fenton said Tuesday he doesn't believe the Minnesota Wild are far off from contending for the Stanley Cup.

"Certainly, you have to make tweaks to rosters," said Fenton, who was hired Monday as Wild general manager and alternate governor. "To come here to a team that's been to the [Stanley Cup] Playoffs six times (in a row), it obviously doesn't need to be overhauled. We have a lot of really good veteran pieces, young guys that are coming, and I'm just looking forward to trying to put on some finishing touches to help us win.

"I don't know if this is a fixing process, but what I did tell [Wild owner Craig Leipold] is that this team is very good."


[RELATED: Wild hire Fenton as general manager]


Fenton replaces Chuck Fletcher, who was fired April 23 after nine seasons. The Wild failed to make it past the Western Conference First Round the past three seasons, including a five-game loss to the Winnipeg Jets this season.

Fenton, 58, spent the past 20 seasons with the Nashville Predators, serving as assistant GM for 12 years under David Poile. In that role, Fenton helped the Predators qualify for the playoffs 11 of the past 14 seasons and reach the Stanley Cup Final in 2017. 

He was a part of the management group that selected defensemen Roman Josi (No. 38, 2008), Ryan Suter (No. 7, 2003) and Shea Weber (No. 49, 2003), and goalie Pekka Rinne (No. 258, 2004), and is hoping to help Minnesota improve at the 2018 NHL Draft on June 22-23.

"Drafting and developing is the key," Fenton said. "But there's no formula. That's the thing. You have to see what pieces are. I want to make hockey trades. I don't want to make [NHL salary] cap trades. I want to make trades that we see a guy fitting with us and maybe be able to do it quickly. But you never know. You just have to let the process play out."

Video: Paul Fenton on being named the GM of the Wild

Added Suter, who has been with the Wild for the past six seasons: "You always knew as a player (in Nashville) that he drafted well." 

In addition to draft preparation, Fenton said getting together with the hockey operations staff and meeting with coaches and players will be his first order of business.

"We have mutual friends that say good things about each other, so I don't think it's going to be a difficult transition at all," Wild coach Bruce Boudreau said. "We're hockey guys and when we're getting together, we're going to be talking hockey all the time. That's what we love to do. He spent a lot of years looking at the minors. I've [spent] a lot of years in the minors. I think it should end up being a really good relationship."

Fenton's focus will be improving the Wild where he sees fit.

"I didn't talk about one piece being missing and I wouldn't even comment on it if I could," he said. "Certainly, everybody puts their own spin on things and looks at things in different ways, and that's what I'm going to do with this staff when we start to get together.

"There's a lot of preparation that goes into looking at things, to analyzing other teams, what their needs are. I want to see what this staff has prepared and then put my two cents in as well. I'm a big communicator, I really love to talk the game. I'll sit down and talk about what our analysis is of players and whom might help us from every team and then just go and trying to do my job to see if there's a fit with somebody else."

Video: The Minnesota Wild hire Paul Fenton as their new GM

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