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Wild’s blue line depth takes another hit as Carson Soucy departs for expansion Kraken

NHL: Minnesota Wild at Arizona Coyotes
Apr 19, 2021; Glendale, Arizona, USA; Minnesota Wild defenseman Carson Soucy (21) shoots the puck against the Arizona Coyotes during the third period at Gila River Arena. Mandatory Credit: Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports

If the Wild had one area where depth wasn’t considered an issue it was the blue line — at least that was true two weeks ago. Jared Spurgeon, Ryan Suter, Jonas Brodin, Carson Soucy and Matthew Dumba were all 2020-21 regulars on the depth chart.

Fast forward to today and that depth has been significantly depleted. The first subtraction occurred a week ago Tuesday, when general manager Bill Guerin surprised everyone by buying out Suter on the same day he bought out Zach Parise. The second happened on Wednesday, when Soucy reportedly was taken by the Seattle Kraken in the NHL expansion draft.

The Suter decision shows just how badly Guerin wanted to get the veteran defenseman out of his locker room. The Soucy decision came after the Wild decided to leave the soon-to-be 27-year-old defenseman exposed for Seattle to take.

The move did not come as a surprise — there were some who thought the Kraken might take young goalie Kaapo Kahkonen instead — but it takes away a reliable player who spent most of last season on the Wild’s third defensive pairing with veteran Ian Cole. Cole, who was obtained from Colorado early last season, is a free agent but seems likely to return to Minnesota.

Soucy, a fifth-round pick by the Wild in 2013, played in three games for Minnesota in 2017-18 before starting to see regular action the next season. He had seven goals and seven assists and was a plus-16 with 18 penalty minutes in 55 games in 2019-20 and then had a goal and 16 assists and was a plus-22 with 51 penalty minutes in 50 games this past season.

Soucy’s plus-minutes and penalty minutes led the Wild in 2020-21. He averaged 15 minutes, 27 seconds of ice time over his two-plus seasons in Minnesota.

Soucy’s departure gives the Wild an extra $2.75 million in salary cap space, meaning Guerin now has $29 million in cap room that he can spend this offseason. But that figure will decrease with Kirill Kaprizov and Kevin Fiala needing new contracts.

Calen Addison, who was obtained from Pittsburgh in the Jason Zucker trade in February 2020, is expected to win one of the available jobs on defense. The right-handed shooting Addison saw action in three regular-season games and three playoff games this season.

But the Wild also will have to look to the free agent market for additional help. Here’s a look at the defensemen who should be on the market when free agency kicks off at 11 a.m. next Wednesday.