Minnesota Wild Futures: Central Division Shake-Up Coming Via Trades


With news of the Minnesota Wild placing Matt Cooke on waivers for the purpose of being bought out of his final year under contract, GM Chuck Fletcher doesn’t seem to be wasting time this off-season. While release/trade news regarding a player like Cooke may not be headline worthy around the NHL, there are some potential blockbuster-esque trades possible around the Central Division this summer.

Gone Puck Wild Editor Alex Tremblay broke down the Matt Cooke waiver news yesterday, including the motive behind the move, and how it could effect the Wild’s bottom-six group next season. Our Andrew McCormack discussed some possible trade candidates for the Wild, that could now be more than just an opinion with Cooke gone. Finally, our Derek Felska brought to our attention the rumor regarding captain Mikko Koivu, and the value he would provide if he is in fact trade-bait. The off-season is officially here.

The idea of a Koivu trade, is what’s most intriguing to me right now. Not that I would agree OR disagree with a trade of Kaptain Koivu either, but because acquisitions and trades of franchise type players are exciting.  The Wild surely woudn’t be the only team in the Central Division with the idea of trading a big-name player this summer. By the start of next year, the division has a good chance of having a some what “new-look” to each team.

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St. Louis Blues

The Division Champion St. Louis Blues were eliminated in the first-round again this year, after some high hopes from their Blue faithful and NHL analysts. Following the series loss to our Wild, coach Ken Hitchcock was unsure of his future with the club. Since then, it’s been decided that Hitch will be back in 2015-16, so what will change for the team? Minnesota natives, TJ Oshie and David Backes have had their names thrown around due to underperforming in the playoffs in back-to -back years. The Blues could look to slightly “re-build” around break-out star Vladimir Tarasenko. Trading away possibly two staples of their team, would definitely have significant impact in St. Louis.

Chicago Blackhawks

They’re still celebrating in Chicago, following the third Stanley Cup over the past six years. The Hawks have the team to beat in the NHL obviously, a perfect blend of youth and veteran talent. They do however have some cap-issues of their own, and it may result in them trading away a big name player or two. Brandon Saad (personal favorite of mine), is a RFA this summer, but not expected to leave Chi-town. Patrick Sharp has been linked to numerous trade talks over the past couple of years due to his 5+ million dollar annual salary and seems like the odd-man out. Johnny Oduya and Brent Seabrook have also been mentioned due to salary cap restraints though, and shouldn’t be ruled out considering the fact of how interested they are in free-agent Mike Reilly.

Colorado Avalanche

Like last summer, Ryan O’Reilly trade talks are rampant right now out here in Colorado. Entering the second, of a two-year contract that will pay him $6 million, GM Joe Sakic has stated over and over again his desire to hold onto ROR, and to reach a long-term deal this summer. O’Reilly clearly wants big money AND stability in a future deal, something Colorado is hesitant to hand out when they have such a young group of promising players that will all require more money down the road. Trading the centre would definitely mean a good return for the Avs, more than likely, a top pairing, big-name defenseman.

Winnipeg Jets

One of the surprising playoff teams out of the west, the Jets have a pretty solid group of their own built not only for next season, but for years to come with good coaching by Paul Maurice. Their core on both offense and defense is there, but could Dustin Byfuglien be on the trade-block? He enters the final year under contract in 2015-16 and will surely ask for bigger money than his current 5.75 million average. More than that, Maurice has changed the entire direction that this team is headed. He wants them to be taken seriously around the league. Does Byfuglien fit that tone of a team when he’s taking bonehead penalties like this in the playoffs?

Dallas Stars

When you have guys like Jamie Benn and Tyler Seguin finding their way onto the score sheet every night, you would think you are a consistent contender, right? Wrong.  The Stars again lacked defense and goaltending this year, costing them a playoff spot entirely. They surely won’t trade away big named guys to accrue the depth at the blue-line, or goaltending they need, but there are options out there to back-up Kari Lehtonen in net who had a 2.94 GAA this year. Eddie Lack? Craig Anderson? We saw last summer that Stars GM Jim Nill likes his former Senators (Jason Spezza, Ales Hemsky), so why not inquire about Anderson? How they could inquire a D-man like Dion Phaneuf (which is what they really need) would require them to trade a significant asset to a re-building Maple Leaf team.

Nashville Predators

After an amazing season in Nashville, the Preds are again tasked with an important off-season to build around the success of this year. Not sure who they would trade of their current group of players (not sure if they’d want to break up a good thing)(Except Mike Ribeiro, he’s gone) but surely they will look to add a high profile piece or two if possible. If you saw Phil Kessel‘s list of teams he’d be willing to be traded to, you would notice Nashville was not included. However, that hasn’t stopped the rumors from swirling dating back to January, of Phil becoming a Predator. They’d have the best shot at landing him with their current salary cap situation, better than any of the eight teams that were listed.

By the time training camp rolls around, there could indeed be some significant changes around the Division. The Central teams are simply going to get better as the years go on, here’s to hoping that Chuck Fletcher is looking at it from this perspective as well for the well-being of the Minnesota Wild.

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