Tuesday morning in St. Paul marked the official beginning of a new era for Minnesota Wild hockey.
Following another early exit from the Stanley Cup Playoffs, Craig Leipold owner of the Minnesota Wild quickly made the decision that a change was needed. Shortly after that, Chuck Fletcher was out as Wild GM and the search for his replacement began.
The list for potential candidates began to form. There were former general managers, former coaches, former players and non-players considered for the job. As Leipold confirmed this morning, the list started to thin out pretty quickly and Fenton rose to the top as the team's number one candidate.
Still, filling the position brought with it some unique characteristics. Many times when a coach or a general manager are fired it follows poor performance and leads to a rebuild of the organization. That wasn't the case for the Minnesota Wild who had made the playoffs in each of the past six seasons. Rather than a rebuild, the Wild were looking for a "tweak" to their roster, something to take the core that is presently in place and boost them over the threshold and ultimately to the Stanley Cup Finals.
That's where Fenton comes in.
Armed with experience from his time as the assistant GM in Nashville, Fenton brings with him some of the characteristics that helped push Nashville to the Stanley Cup finals in 2017 and turned that franchise into a perennial power house.
Those strengths that Fenton brings with him were highlighted as talent evaluation in the draft and an aggressive mindset on trades both before and during the season.
During his time in Nashville, Fenton was one of the heads for the draft noted as the organizations top talent evaluator. He was the one who drafted Ryan Suter to Nashville in 2003 and continued to hit home runs along the way.
It was that evaluation that led to the building of the core roster that turned Nashville into Smashville just one year ago.
"When we [Nashville] made the Stanley Cup Final a couple years ago," Fenton stated. "We had 17 drafted players that came from Milwaukee [AHL affiliate]. That's a feather in the cap of our people."
Along with his successful track record in the draft, Fenton and the Predators have gained a reputation to be on the more aggressive side of trade characteristics, something that Minnesota sports fans aren't all that familiar with across the board.
As he looks to build the future of the organization through talented prospects in the draft, some of the "tweaks" in the short term that both Fenton and Leipold noted today may come through trades throughout the league.
"I like to think outside the box," Fenton continued. "I think that when you look at the moves we made [in Nashville], we made hockey trades...I'll look at small trades, big trades, whatever helps us win a Stanley Cup."
The mentality of development and small tweaks that have a significant impact on the ice was the number one thing that owner Craig Leipold said he was looking for when the search for a GM began weeks ago.
By all accounts, the Wild found a guy that fit the mold and has a proven track record to back it up.
“I’m here to work and I’m not leaving until we put a stamp on this thing" - Paul Fenton