The Minnesota Wild head into free agency with money to burn now that Thomas Vanek's contract is (mostly) off the books, and with a healthy crop of forwards set to hit the market they're likely to come away with a new contract or two. General manager Chuck Fletcher currently has an estimated $14 million in cap space to work with and a handful of players to re-sign.

Here's our list of five popular free agents, and how they could help (or not help) the Wild next season:

DAVID BACKES, CENTER

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Are the Wild interested?

Probably

Should the Wild sign him?

If the price is right

Why?

Backes is among the game's premiere two-way forwards, and would immediately become the No. 1 or No. 2 center on a team that is in desperate need of depth at the position. At 32 years old Backes isn't quite the dominant physical presence he once was, but he's an upgrade at center on most teams. Backes has been good for 20-30 goals throughout his career, even if his numbers have declined somewhat over the last two seasons.

What's this going to cost?

Backes is set to command a cap hit of around $5.5 million annually as an unrestricted free agent (UFA), a figure that gives the Wild room to re-sign other key pieces this offseason.

KYLE OKPOSO, RW

Are the Wild interested?

Again, probably

Should the Wild sign him?

No

Why?

A reliable possession winger with a wicked shot, Okposo has thrived alongside center John Tavares in New York, where he slots in up and down the lineup as needed. Okposo has netted at least 50 points in each of the last three seasons. Wingers of his caliber rarely hit the open market at just 28 years old.

What's this going to cost?

Okposo is looking for the centerpiece contract of his pro career, and will reportedly command an annual salary of $7 million-$8 million. Yikes. The Wild already have around 46 percent of their cap space committed to four players, and taking on another contract of that size isn't very feasible. The Wild need help down the middle, and an Okposo deal would negate any such add. Unless the St. Paul native and former Gopher is willing to offer Minnesota a big hometown discount this one may be a pipe dream.

ERIC STAAL, C

Are the Wild interested?

Maybe

Should the Wild sign him?

For the right price

Why?

A two-time 40-goal scorer, Staal was the cornerstone of the Carolina Hurricanes' offense for 11 seasons. Another big, two-way center, Staal was traded to the New York Rangers in February, an experiment that resulted in three goals and three assists in 20 games, while Staal was shut out completely during a five-game loss to the Pittsburgh Penguins in the playoffs.

What's this going to cost?

Staal is reportedly willing to accept a shorter contract following the Rangers debacle, and he'll likely need to take a pay cut too. Staal cost $8.25 million against the cap last season, a figure that he's not going to get on the open market (unless things get really desperate post-Steven Stamkos). If the Wild can snag Staal on a short-term deal and with a significant pay cut he could be an option.

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ANDREW LADD, LW

Are the Wild interested?

Probably

Should the Wild sign him?

A lukewarm yes

Why?

The Chicago Blackhawks coveted Ladd as they bulked up for another playoff run last spring, and for good reason. Ladd has been good for 40-50 points each year over last eight seasons, and is another big-bodied forward that brings both defense and offense to the table. He isn't a premiere scorer by any means, but Ladd offers hits and goals in just about equal measure, and has a history of performing in the playoffs. He's hoisted the Stanley Cup twice, winning it all with Carolina in 2006 and again with the Blackhawks in 2010, before becoming a leader for the Winnipeg Jets (nee Atlanta Thrashers).

What's this game to cost?

Ladd made $4.5 million last season, but didn't do much to convince anyone that he deserves a big raise, especially as he enters his age 31 season.

LOUI ERIKSSON, RW

Are the Wild interested?

Yes

Should the Wild sign him?

For the right price

Why?

The Wild were linked to Eriksson repeatedly in the lead-up to the trade deadline earlier this year, as the Boston Bruins looked to deal the high-scoring winger for a top-four defenseman. A reliable 30-goal scorer, Eriksson heads into his age 31 season as the top winger on the market. Eriksson scores goals and drives possession at a level comparable to Okposo, although he's likely to come a bit cheaper.

What's this going to cost?

Another player likely looking for his last big payday, Eriksson carried a cap hit of $4.25 million last season, and should command a bit more in free agency. If anyone panics once Stamkos signs he could stand to make a bit more.

Salary cap statistics courtesy of General Fanager, NHL statistics courtesy of Hockey-Reference

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