Rather than discuss the latest rumblings from the lockout or try and speculate what might happen with today’s meeting, let’s turn our attention to the Wild and look at some areas they need improvement on when the season gets underway. Yes, I said when simply because I believe they’ll be playing by mid-December.
This past summer Wild GM Chuck Fletcher shocked the hockey world when he signed not one but two bona fide superstars in Zach Parise and Ryan Suter. While many feel the additions of the two all-stars instantly makes the Wild a contender to win the NorthEast division, the back end still requires some attention.
If the season started tomorrow the Wild’s starting defensemen could look like this: Suter, Tom Gilbert, Clayton Stoner, Justin Falk and Jared Spurgeon. A prospect or two could make a push for the final roster spot which could be Jonas Brodin, if he returns from his shoulder injury in time. Chay Genoway and Marco Scandella are two other names that might have a shot, but then you’re running on youth and inexperience on defence.
There are some veterans in the minors who could step up and fill the void. Bryan Connelly or Nate Prosser could be considered as options, albeit long shots and considering their age of 26, their window of opportunity is closing fast.
So the idea of trading a prospect or two for a proven defenseman suddenly becomes increasingly intriguing.
Recently we’ve explored the trade that saw the Wild give up the young stud in Brent Burns. Sure the Wild got Devin Setoguchi who has yet to find his rookie form that saw him pot over 30 goals and we also evaluated the impact that Charlie Coyle will someday have on this organization. But the hole that Burns left has never been filled and it may be time to give up some young talent to shore up the blue line.
We know Coyle, Brodin and Mikael Granlund are likely off-limits, but what about dealing a guy like Jason Zucker or Kristopher Foucault? Johan Larsson, Nick Palmieri and Zack Phillips are other names that teams will surely ask for and it’s hard to see the Wild giving up on Larsson or Phillips unless the deal was too good to pass up on.
Suddenly the Wild have a plethora of young talent up front and parting ways with a couple of them makes sense in order to acquire a solid, top three d-man.
The other scenario would be to look at dealing Niklas Backstrom for a healthy package of talent in return. At 34-years old, Backstrom could be a solid addition to a club that is need of goaltending depth. Some will laugh at this idea but considering Josh Harding has proven to be reliable and with Matt Hackett in the wings ready to make the jump, Backstrom suddenly becomes expendable.
A team like the Edmonton Oilers are in desperate need of a legitimate number one goalie but they aren’t exactly rich in blue line talent either, making this deal an unlikely one. Throw in the fact that it’s a division rival and suddenly the Oilers are the last team the Wild would want to deal with.
The Wild may be content to explore their youth and give a shot to one of their youngsters when the season eventually returns.. But with all this young, goal scoring talent, the idea of trading some of it away to improve the blue line is a possibility and one the Wild should consider. It’s a nice position to be in, to at least have that option; whether they choose to do anything with it remains to be seen.
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