According to Michael Russo of the Star Tribune, Minnesota Wild GM Chuck Fletcher has made it plain that neither veteran Cup-winning center Matt Cullen nor No. 1 netminder Niklas Backstrom are going anywhere before the trade deadline. With 13 days left until the April 3rd deadline, the only likely player to be moved is veteran winger, and 2002 8th overall pick, Pierre-Marc Bouchard. Fletcher has also stressed that he is looking for a “hockey trade” i.e. Nick Schultz for Tom Gilbert.
So, one can only assume that Fletcher is looking for another middle-6 winger, a decent B-level prospect or a few draft picks. Considering the trades he’s made this season, and the fact that Jason Zucker or Mikael Granlund could just as easily take Bouchard’s spot, Fletcher will likely look to acquire a decent package of picks. Perhaps it’ll be Bouchard and Justin Falk, or one of the many AHL defensemen in the system, for a 2nd rounder, a 4th and a 7th? Bouchard would never fetch a 1st round pick, and probably not a 2nd without someone else packaged in. However, Fletcher, Flahr and the Wild scouts have been brilliant each draft, and they could do some damage with an extra 2nd rounder.
With the rookies and depth players available at his disposal, it’s unreasonable to think Fletcher would make a move to acquire a top line right wing or top-4 defenseman as rentals at the deadline. Both promising young rookie winger Charlie Coyle and defensive stud Jonas Brodin have filled those roles nicely thus far this season. It’s because the way they have stepped up and performed that Coach Yeo has been able to find lines that work and can roll consistently. Not only have the young guns played an important role on this team—they’ve helped carry the team into the playoff race. It would only be fitting for them to resume that role if the season comes down to a playoff run. It’s character building, and only speeds up their development.
No matter what, Chuck Fletcher knows how to wheel and deal and will do what he feels is best for his team. With the main core of the team running smoothly, he’s not going to trade away his red hot second line center or franchise-best starting goaltender. However, Bouchard is fair game, and his exceptional play lately needs to continue so Minnesota can trade him for the best price—there is no better time to trade him than now. Butch will always be a fan favorite, but his time in a Wild sweater is almost assuredly at an end. With the emergence of young guns like Coyle, Brodin, Zucker and Granlund, it’s time for the Chuck Fletcher draft era to reign supreme in Minnesota. After four incredible drafts by the second GM in franchise history, it’s about time.