Who is new Wild general manager Paul Fenton?
Minnesota Wild owner Craig Leipold is turning to one of the architects behind his former team to help fix his current one.
Leipold was on hand for a press conference Tuesday to introduce former Nashville Predators assistant general manager Paul Fenton as the Wild’s third GM, where he indicated that tweaks, not a full-scale rebuild, are on the table.
— FOX Sports North (@fsnorth) May 22, 2018
After spending 20 years in the Nashville Predators organization, formerly owned by Leipold, Fenton knows a little bit about that.
A native of Springfield, Mass., Fenton played for Boston University in the early ’80s before spending a decade in the pros.
Originally hired by the Anaheim Ducks as a scout in 1993, Fenton went on to become the Predators’ director of player personnel, a title he held until his promotion to assistant GM in 2006. GM David Poile’s right-hand man, Fenton oversaw the team’s pro and amateur scouting apparatus, and learned from one of the best. Poile became the winningest GM in league history earlier this year, surpassing Glen Sather.
The Predators drafted well during Fenton’s tenure. Some highlights: Defensemen Ryan Suter (2003, now with Minnesota), Shea Weber (2003), Roman Josi (2008), Ryan Ellis (2009) and Seth Jones (2013, now with Columbus), forwards Jimmy Vesey (2012, now with the Rangers), Viktor Arvidsson (2014), Eeli Tolvanen (2017) and goaltender Pekka Rinne (2004).
The Predators also pulled off a few major trades during Fenton’s run. Nashville dealt Martin Erat and Michael Latta to the Washington Capitals for high-scoring forward Filip Forsberg in 2013. Jones was shipped to Columbus a few years later, in January 2016, for coveted center Ryan Johansen. A little over six months later they got younger and faster on the blue line, shipping Weber to the Montreal Canadiens for P.K. Subban.
Leipold says he’s signed off on his new GM’s ability to make smart deals.
— FOX Sports North (@fsnorth) May 22, 2018
“What I want him to know, is that he has the green light,” Leipold said. “If he sees something that’s gonna make us better, let’s talk about it if we need to, if it’s a budget issue, but if it’s a player trade, it’s a hockey trade, let’s go make it.
There’s little reason to doubt his credentials: The Predators advanced to the Stanley Cup Final last season, and won the Presidents’ Trophy earlier this year.
THE FENTON FILE
— Born in Springfield, Mass., and played at Boston University. As a senior he had 20 goals and 13 assists in 28 games.
— Began professional hockey career with Peoria of the International Hockey League and scored 60 goals in 82 games in 1982-83. He was named the winner of the Ken McKenzie Trophy, given to the top American-born rookie.
— Was signed by the Hartford Whalers on Oct. 6, 1983 and after a season with Binghamton of the American Hockey League, he made his NHL debut in the 1984-85 season, playing 33 games (7 goals, 5 assists) with Hartford.
— Played 411 NHL games with the Whalers, Rangers, Kings, Jets, Maple Leafs, Jets, Flames and Sharks, recording 100 goals and 83 assists. His best season came in 1989-90 when he tallied 32 goals wihle with Winnipeg.
— After his playing days, joined Anaheim as a scout and stayed there five years, serving as the team’s chief professional scout his final two years. He was instrumental in trade which brought Teemu Selanne to the Ducks in 1996.
— Was hired as Nashville’s director of player personnel. After eight seasons, was promoted to assistant general manager. Also served as general manager of the Predators’ AHL affiliate in Milwaukee for the past 12 seasons.
— Served as associate general manager for Team USA at the 2011 World Championships.
— He’s been mentioned as a general manager candidate for a number of years. Fenton himself has lobbied to be a GM. He told the Hockey News in 2013: “Quite honestly, I would have hoped that an opportunity would have presented itself and I feel like I’ve been prepared. Twenty-one years outside of playing, being involved with professional hockey for 30-plus years, running pro sides, running amateur sides, running player personnel things, being general manager of the American League team and probably being the guy who has had the most influence on any player personnel decision that we make in our organization from the beginning. … I’m hoping (his experience) leads to somebody else seeing that I’ve been able to help build this team from the bottom. I helped build Anaheim from the bottom. I’ve broken down this team [Nashville] when ownership declared that they were going to sell the team and move and then built it back up to hopefully a contender. I believe that I’m ready and I hope that somebody else does. … There’s nothing that I haven’t done in this business to say that I’m not ready to be a manager. I make decisions. I have been put on the spot to make decisions on everything from free agency to drafts to trades to any type of acquisition. I live it every day, so for me I think it’s a natural progression.”