Marc-Andre Fleury, Wild goaltender (UP ⬆)
Minnesota’s goalie swap with Ottawa on Tuesday evening, exchanging veteran Cam Talbot for 24-year-old netminder Filip Gustavsson, has set the stage for a heavy dose of Fleury in 2022-23. When the future Hall of Fame goaltender reupped with the Wild on a two-year deal ahead of the NHL draft, Talbot’s camp expressed its displeasure with Bill Guerin’s plans for a 50-50 split between the pipes. Just days later, Guerin made clear that drama isn’t wanted in the State of Hockey, ridding the franchise of Talbot’s contract, which carries a cap hit of $3,666,667 through next season. The return is Gustavsson – a Swede that Guerin helped draft in the second round while in Pittsburgh in 2016 – who has appeared in 27 NHL games (23 starts) and brings to the Wild a 3.12 goals-against average and .905 save percentage. In other words, good depth in the net. But not someone projected to steal too many starts from Fleury. This move also may benefit a different Swedish goaltender, Jesper Wallstedt, who Minnesota took with the No. 20 overall selection in the 2021 draft. Wallstedt, 19 years old, is under contract to play this year with the Iowa Wild. Perhaps he’s ready to take the reins from Fleury once the latter skates off into the sunset, whenever that is ... Fleury went 9-2 with a 2.74 GAA and .910 SV% in his first 11 starts for Minnesota.
Wild's Fleury 'had options' but is excited to stay in Minnesota
Jorge Polanco, Twins second baseman (UP ⬆)
Polanco has been solid in the batter’s box in July, going 9-for-34 (.265) with five homers and nine RBI in 10 games. The switch-hitting infielder has been particularly strong over the last seven days (July 5-12), mashing four home runs to pair with seven hits and a .350 average. In that stretch, Polanco also has earned seven bases on balls – he leads the clubhouse this year with 41 free passes in 303 plate trips. In Tuesday’s rain-soaked loss to Milwaukee, Polanco gave the Twins life with a single, homer and a walk.
Josh Minott, Timberwolves forward (UP ⬆)
The 45th pick of the 2022 NBA draft, Minott probably has exceeded expectations through two summer league contests. The 6-foot-8 swingman erupted for a team-high 22 points on 8 of 15 shooting July 8 against the Nuggets. Minott also pulled down 10 rebounds, including four on the offensive end, and had three assists and a block. He used his 6-foot-11.75 wingspan to swat three more shots in Minnesota’s clash with Memphis two days later, and grabbed five boards in addition to seven points, including two on this gnarly putback. OK, so nothing crazy stat-wise, yet, but two performances showing value in different areas. Minott’s been fun to watch.
Josh Winder, Twins pitcher (DOWN ⬇)
The adverse weather surely didn’t help, but Winder got roughed up in Tuesday’s loss to the Brewers. The 25-year-old rookie, drafted in the seventh round in 2018, was dinged for five runs on four hits, including a pair that left the yard, and two walks in five innings of work. Overall, the 6-foot-5 righty has been a pleasant surprise to the Twins pitching staff – he owns a 3.77 ERA and 1.24 WHIP across 45 1/3 frames. Of course, we’ve seen more of Winder than anticipated because of injuries to Minnesota’s rotation. His tough go Tuesday resulted in a demotion Wednesday morning when bullpen arm Joe Smith returned from the 15-day injured list. Winder has made three short starts at Triple-A St. Paul this season.
Gary Sanchez, Twins catcher (DOWN ⬇)
July hasn’t been kind to Sanchez, who’s swinging .150 (3-for-20) in seven games this month. His only performance of note came Saturday against the Rangers when he blasted his 10th home run of the season and drove in RBI Nos. 35 and 36. It’s definitely a mini-slump for the two-time All-Star (2017, 2019) but hasn’t reached the point of grave concern. He hit .318 (7-for-22) in five games to close out June, and has flashed extra-base prowess with the Twins – his 18 doubles are two shy of his career high.