Last Monday, the Minnesota Wild signed former Philadelphia Flyers RW Matt Read to a one-year two-way contract. Read, now entering his eighth season in the NHL, went undrafted in the 2011 NHL Draft after a standout four-year collegiate campaign at Bemidji State University located in, none other than, ‘“the state of hockey”.
Read was signed to a three-year UFA contract with the Philadelphia Flyers in March 2011 and rose quickly through the ranks. The Ontario native scored 24 goals and totaled 47 points in a rookie campaign that saw him finish fourth in voting for the Calder Trophy. Over the remaining years of his rookie contract, the tandem of Matt Read and Sean Couturier developed into one of the best penalty-kill duos in the NHL while Read continued as a mainstay on the scoring sheet.
Following his 2013-14 campaign, Read was signed to a four-year $14.5 million deal prior to the start of the 2014-15 season, and in the following seasons, Read’s offensive production steadily declined. Though still productive on the penalty kill, his scoring diminished, and so to did his role with the team under the new management and coaching of Ron Hextall and Dave Hakstol respectively. In his final season with the Flyers, Read was an up-and-down player, logging 33 games with the Lehigh Valley Phantoms, the AHL affiliate of the Flyers, and only appearing in 19 games on Broad Street.
What does this signing mean to the Minnesota Wild? It certainly means something to Matt Read, who fans affectionately call “Meat”. On a recent episode of the PONDcast, Read discussed his ties to the state of Minnesota, revealing that he already resides in the land of 10,000 lakes with his wife Erin, during the off seasons. Read went on to discuss how he has already shared ice time with (now teammate) Zach Parise while playing summer hockey in Da Beauty League and goalkeeper Devan Dubnyk in international play with Team Canada.
In Matt Read, the Wild find themselves holding what may become one of the best bargain signings of the offseason. It should be remembered that only four seasons ago, the Flyers valued Read’s play at $4.5 million per year, while the Wild have only taken a $675k cap hit with the 2018-19 signing. Read could offer the Wild much needed depth at the forward position, and round out the bottom six of a veteran core. He is a skilled two-way forward and an excellent situational player who is sure to make waves in the AHL while playing for the Iowa Wild.
With the signing, Read is also offered the opportunity to once again prove himself as an NHL-caliber forward, and any sign of a return to his rookie form is a major victory for both the Wild organization and its fans. With this latest signing, it may quickly become apparent that new GM Paul Fenton has found one of the single best values on the NHL free agent market for this upcoming season.