In his latest blog update yesterday, the Star Tribune’s Michael Russo stated that struggling Wild forward Devin Setoguchi is on the chopping block. What could Minnesota possibly get in return for the intriguing, yet struggling young winger?
An interesting solution may be with the Pittsburgh Penguins. The Penguins are looking for another winger to skate alongside Crosby and Setoguchi would certainly be an interesting option for them. While “Seto” has struggled since coming to Minnesota, he’s a former 30-goal scorer, and the Wild won’t part with him for just anything. Minnesota has a trio of young forward prospects in Jason Zucker, Johan Larsson and recently recalled Charlie Coyle that can take his place in the lineup. However, outside of Jonas Brodin and Mathew Dumba, the Wild are lacking in elite depth in the blue line prospects. Pittsburgh has a great group of elite young defensemen, including Joe Morrow, Olli Maatta, Derrick Pouliot, Scott Harrington and Simon Despres, the former teammate of the Wild’s Zack Phillips in Saint John of the Quebec League.
According to Hockey’s Future, “Despres possesses a blend of size and swift, fluid skating ability that makes him a special defensive prospect. He is also very unique in the sense that while his overall upside is largely unknown, particularly on the offensive side of the puck, he already has the frame, skating, and mental ability to play at the NHL level.” At 6’4” and 225-pounds, he brings a size that Minnesota could certainly use on their top two defensive pairings. He would also be a great option to pair with Minnesota rookie Jonas Brodin on the top pairing as their careers progress.
Yeah, he sounds great, but how does Minnesota get a kid like him in a trade for a struggling goal scorer? It’s simple—Despres is expendable. The writing may have already been on the wall for their 2009 first round pick when they drafted Pouliot and Maatta 8th and 26th overall, respectively, this past June on the team’s home turf. Also, he has shown struggles this season and, especially in a shortened season, Cup contenders can’t afford to keep struggling rookies and prospects. With the arrival of several elite defensive prospects not far off, and with a need for the Penguins to win now—young Simon may find himself wearing a different sweater by the end of the season.
If Minnesota trades just Setoguchi, he’s worth at least a very solid prospect or a 2nd round pick at minimum. An example to look at would be the trade Wild GM Chuck Fletcher made with the Flyers for bottom six winger Darroll Powe. The Wild acquired him for a 2013 3rd round pick back on June 27th, 2011. Even with his current struggles, Setoguchi is certainly worth more than that. However, Minnesota might chip in a defenseman or two like Nate Prosser or Justin Falk. If they do, expect a decent package in return: maybe an A or B level prospect and a good pick or two. Just look at the Marek Zidlicky trade—Minnesota received defenseman Kurtis Foster, former Wild draft pick Stephane Veilleux, a big prospect in Nick Palmieri, a 2012 2nd round pick (Raphael Bussieres) and a 2013 3rd round pick. If Minnesota could get anything close to that for Setoguchi, it would certainly be a plus.
Coach Yeo has clearly sent a message to Setoguchi, and struggling rookie center Mikael Granlund, by demoting both young forwards to Minnesota’s fourth line for tonight’s game. As interested teams don’t get a chance to see players who aren’t skating, Setoguchi is lucky to be playing rather than sitting in the press box. One thing is for sure, with the two talented forwards skating on either side of him, fourth line center Zenon Konopka may think he’s Minnesota’s No. 1 center tonight. It’s an honest mistake.