WILD WORDSFeb 16, 2018
5:56 with Chuck Fletcher | by @Tom Witosky | Follow @toskyAHLWild
Minnesota’s general manager spent Monday night watching the Iowa Wild defeat San Antonio 3-2 for the team’s third straight win. In recent days, the Wild announced signing a five-year lease extension to remain in Des Moines, called up defenseman Nick Seeler and signed veteran forward Ryan White.
Here is what Fletcher had to say about those developments.
Q: How does the new five-year lease apply to the Minnesota Wild’s hockey operations?
Fletcher: The first five years have been outstanding. Des Moines is a great place to live for our players. It is a great city. Well Fargo Arena is a great facility. We have an excellent dressing room setup and the fact that it is three hours and 15 minutes south of St. Paul makes it incredibly convenient to call players up, send staff down, or move resources back and forth. The way we have been treated is outstanding. We are very fortunate.
Q: The city seems to have taken to a lot of these players. Is that an advantage in recruiting players to come here?
A: The town has been great and anyone who has been here realizes that very quickly. I have spoken to folks who have lived here and they love it. Our players enjoy living here because they are treated very well. It is an incredibly vibrant young city that the players have a lot of things to do when they aren’t on the ice. We couldn’t be happier with how the last five years have gone.
Q: Assess how well Iowa is playing right now. How is the team doing?
A: The first three years we obviously struggled. There simply was a lot of inconsistency in our play in those years. Last year, we took a big step be becoming more competitive. This year’s team is by far the best one we’ve had in terms of talent. We have the most prospects we’ve had and the best American League players that we have had. Our club is playing well. There is a lot more work to do, but it is a good group. They like each other and play hard for each other. It is a well-coached group.
Q: What is the club’s biggest strength?
A: We are scoring the most goals than we have scored over the last four years. It is the most talented team we’ve had. Any time you can score goals, particularly on the power play, it can make up for a lot of shortcomings.
Q: Nick Seeler was recently called up. Coach Lalonde says that Nick has improved greatly over the last two seasons. Was it time for him to get a shot at the NHL?
A: Yes. We rely on the coaching staff down here. Obviously, Brent Flahr, Brad Bombadir and Andrew Brunette get down here a lot more than I do, but they have all said the same thing about Nick. He has been about the steadiest player we have had down here on the back end. We drafted him in 2011 and since then he has paid his dues. He has worked hard and has improved every year. He has gotten to the point, it’s time for him to get an NHL game and hopefully it will be the first of many. He is a good kid, a character kid who has made the climb. His promotion is deserved.
Q: Sam Anas has 40 points and is tied with Cal O’Reilly for the team lead in scoring. Has Sam surprised you with how well he is doing?
A: He was such a talented player coming out of college. We felt lucky to sign him as an undrafted free agent out of Quinnipiac. Unfortunately in his first training camp, he got a concussion and missed some time. That took him a while to get going last year, but by the end of the season he was coming on quite well. He has continued to evolve and improve this year. He is such a smart player. He has improved his pace, he is reading the play quicker and is making the adjustments he has to make. What’s really exciting is that this is only his second year in pro hockey. The sky is the limit for him.
Q: The recent signing of Ryan White was a surprise to some. Ryan even said he was a bit surprised. What are your thoughts on his signing here with Iowa?
A: We traded for Ryan last year just before the trade deadline at Minnesota. He played around 20 games for us including several games in the playoffs. We knew all about his competitiveness and his passion. He has good skills for a physical player and can play right wing and center and move all over the ice. I give Brent Flahr a lot of credit for monitoring the situation in San Diego. Once Ryan became available, we jumped all over it. He definitely helped us last year in the NHL and we had no reservations bringing him in to Iowa.