ST. PAUL – In an almost unprecedented move, the Minnesota Wild have publicly announced that they will not re-sign captain Mikko Koivu, a pending unrestricted free agent. His 15-year career with the team will end with a press release from GM Bill Guerin:
[Koivu’s] hard work, dedication and team-first mentality will be extremely difficult to replace in our lineup. Off the ice, Mikko’s impact in the State of Hockey was immeasurable as he went out of his way to make a positive impact on so many people in our community, including his charitable contributions to Children’s Minnesota.
We thank Mikko for everything he has done for our organization and wish him and his family the best in the future.
Koivu, 37, debuted with the Wild in 2005 and has played his entire 1,028-game NHL career with the organization, serving as captain the last eleven seasons. The sixth-overall pick from 2001 amassed 709 points during that time, reaching the postseason on nine different occasions.
In recent years, Koivu’s offensive production has deteriorated immensely, resulting in a career-low of just four goals and 21 points this season. While the 6’3″ center was still a capable defensive presence, it was obvious that his time in the Minnesota lineup was coming to an end.
This move continues what has been a busy offseason for Guerin as he desperately tries to reshape the Wild and get younger throughout the roster. Eric Staal was dealt earlier this week for a younger Marcus Johansson, while Nick Bjugstad was also brought in to compete for minutes down the middle. If the trade rumors surrounding Matt Dumba and Devan Dubnyk are to be believed, there are more changes coming for Minnesota in the coming weeks.
For Koivu, he now must decide whether or not to continue his career elsewhere and if so whether that elsewhere is in the NHL or overseas. Earlier this month Michael Russo of The Athletic profiled the forward, examining his near-endless Minnesota records and future options. That included a potential non-playing role with the organization, though it doesn’t seem like that is going to happen right away given today’s statement.