Minnesota Wild: Trade Deadline Analysis

Feb 21, 2016; Minneapolis, MN, USA; Minnesota Wild head Coach interim head coach John Torchetti instructs his team in the second period against the Chicago Blackhawks during a Stadium Series hockey game at TCF Bank Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brad Rempel-USA TODAY Sports
Feb 21, 2016; Minneapolis, MN, USA; Minnesota Wild head Coach interim head coach John Torchetti instructs his team in the second period against the Chicago Blackhawks during a Stadium Series hockey game at TCF Bank Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brad Rempel-USA TODAY Sports /

The Minnesota Wild took another step back the last night against the Flyers as they lost another game 3-2.  A trade could spark this team back even further, but GM Chuck Fletcher needs to not just make a move he needs to make the right move.

It’s been a hard last two games the for the Minnesota Wild.  Many people I think are forgetting that the New York team that skated against the Wild on Tuesday were red-hot coming into that game.  The Isles were 7-3-1 since the all-star game led by John Tavares who had 13 pts during that stretch and made the Wild pay with a goal and an assist.  Still considering that the Wild dominated the Blackhawks just two days earlier, hard to deny something was lacking in the effort department.  And then last night they lost a heartbreaker by a goal stick paddle in the final seconds in Philadelphia.

The trade deadline looming on Monday it’s apparent the Minnesota Wild could benefit from a boost in the offensive department with some new blood.  The challenge as before is making sure to get players that will not mortgage the future of the team for a possible boost now.  Chuck Fletcher will be looking for a player for player trade with a potential target having some contract left at a fairly cap friendly price. 

I still contend it’s a defender that should be dangled as trade bait.  It’s the position with the most depth and NHL talent that can be traded outright for NHL talent.  The Wild have no draft picks to spare so Fletcher can’t get away with that trick anymore.  Brodin was offered to Columbus and is currently out with a broken foot so he could still go, but teams will be looking for healthy talent.  In my eyes Brodin was the guy to trade, but now who knows if he still is. 

Suter is untouchable.  He’s the leader of the team right now and his contract is not cap friendly for another team.  Prosser and Folin are pretty much not desirable by themselves, but maybe they could go in a package deal which is not really where I see the Wild going.  Reilly is the future and proving right now he’s about 100% NHL ready.  Spurgeon just signed an extension through 2020, and Scandella is on the books through 2020 as well.

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That leaves Dumba…I hate to say it but he’s the guy if they can move Brodin.  Dumba is a desired talent and an RFA at the end of the season and will most likely get a bridge deal somewhere in the neighborhood north of 3 million.  Still as an RFA he’s attractive to other teams as they can control the situation.  Whoever gets him will need to pay him, but they will most likely not lose him.

So with the centerpiece of a trade package identified, who do the Wild try to acquire?  I used to think it has to be a Center and I still think that should be the main target I believe any forward will be a boost.  But as I eluded to before in the past needs to be a Forward who can score, is fairly young, and has some contract left to help stabilize the team.   Furthermore, Fletcher needs to find a team that has that talent and is lacking in defensive talent.

 So looking across the NHL for teams that need defense and have forwards who fit the previously described bill, here’s a list of players the Wild need to take a hard look at acquiring.

1) Alex Galchenyuk –  The Montreal Canadiens continue their free fall down the standings after one of the best starts in recent NHL memory.  The injury to Carey Price as exposed a weakness in their blueline and are desperate to fill the void and put someone to help PK Subban.  Galchenyuk has 16 goals this season and currently the 22-year-old Wisconsin is signed through the end of next year.  Not a huge chunk of contract, but he’ll still be an RFA and thus has some controllability.  He offers an instant offensive shot in the arm as a pure goal scorer. 

2) Boone Jenner –  Columbus has been underachieving from the get go.  The expectations for this team were the playoffs before the season, now the expectation is to survive the rage of John Tortorella.  The 22-year-old Center Jenner is a scoring machine with 22 goals this far on a team like this.  He does become an RFA next season, but considering his current salary a bridge deal could be almost virtually paid for with the 3 million that will be freed up when Backstrom’s contract falls off the books.  Although the Blue Jackets got Seth Jones from Nashville, their blueline could still benefit with a further injection. 

3) Phil Kessel – Okay I almost didn’t say this one, but hear me out.  Kessel, 28 years of age, has 19 goals this season and the Penguins need blueline help if they want to stay in the Wild Card hunt in the East.  Why I think Kessel works is he’s always been someone who has natural scoring talent, but gets dogged for his lack of effort.  How better to motivate the former Gopher and Madison native than to slap a Wild sweater on him and say “We just need you to score”?  Additionally, his cap hit may be a little high, but he’s signed through 2022 and about half of his 6.8 million hit is already paid for with the Backstrom contract off the books.

4) Nikita Kucherov – The 22-year-old Russian is having a great season for the defensively challenged Tampa Bay Lighting.  Right now he’s scored 24 goals and has shown consistent goals scoring across the season.  Tampa could be ripe to trade him as they will have to spend a bit of money to upgrade his contract next season as he’s an RFA at the end of this year.  As we all know Steven Stamkos looks to make a payday that could approach 10 million a year leaving this currently cap strapped team with very little room.  Additionally, their defensive corps needs an upgrade with proven talent.  The Wild can provide that for sure.

5) Ryan Nugent-Hopkins – The 22-year-old  Oilers Center is as talented as they come.  Right now he is on the tail end of his broken hand and will be ready to play soon.  He’s got plenty of contract left signed through 2021 and he’s finding himself listed as expendable with the Connor McDavid era beginning in Edmonton.  Also it’s been said that the Oilers GM Peter Chiarelli has called almost the entire team tradable.  This is also a team that needs to find someone on the blueline to get behind Sekera.  The Nuge might be exactly what the doctor ordered if he’s healthy soon.    

By no means is this the gospel of what Chuck Fletcher is going to do.  Still I’d give these players a hard look as they can help the Wild now and fit into the future of the team as well.  In the salary cap era it’s hard to make these moves, so sometimes it’s not about getting the best player it’s about getting the right one.  The Wild are in a good position to get the right player if they can get another team to feel the same way about the player they are offering.

Next: Will a Trade Propel the Wild into The Postseason?

At any rate it’ll be interesting to see what happens between now and Monday.  For now, keeping our eyes on the ball, let’s just hope for a great showing tonight in Washington against the Caps.  (Oh and I’m sure I’ll catch heck for suggesting Kessel…so let the tomatoes fly!)