Minnesota Wild: Cap Strapped Penguins Offer Great Trade Possibilities

Nov 17, 2015; Pittsburgh, PA, USA; Minnesota Wild left wing Thomas Vanek (26) and Pittsburgh Penguins defenseman Kris Letang (58) battle for position while chasing a loose puck during the third period at the CONSOL Energy Center. The Penguins won 4-3. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports
Nov 17, 2015; Pittsburgh, PA, USA; Minnesota Wild left wing Thomas Vanek (26) and Pittsburgh Penguins defenseman Kris Letang (58) battle for position while chasing a loose puck during the third period at the CONSOL Energy Center. The Penguins won 4-3. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports /
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As the Minnesota Wild look for trade partners to acquire a talented forward or two, they should take a hard look at the cap strapped Pittsburgh Penguins as a possible partner to swap players.  The Pens need defense and to shed cap space to get under the cap, that could mean some of their forwards come cheaper than expected.

Buffalo, NY has now become the East Coast deployed location of the Minnesota Wild.  GM Chuck Fletcher is entrenched and is ready to field calls and take meetings with all the other NHL GMs gathered for tomorrow’s entry draft.  Fletcher has already explained to Michael Russo in today’s Star Tribune that “We’re not going to make moves so we can say to everybody, ‘Look we’ve got a different team,’ but our goal is to be a better team and there could be opportunity to become that this week.”  So Fletcher is looking to deal, but with his normal sense of deliberate caution.

Almost every team offers the Wild trade options.  The argument has always been that the Wild will trade from their strength, their defense, for the part that they feel they are weak in, their forwards.  So drilling that down you really can start to see different teams become strong options than others.

One of key parts to being a good GM is to insist on talking to other organizations about any and all possible moves, and likewise always be fielding calls for any all possible moves from other organizations.  It’s an exercise in knowing what others are interested in, what their price tag is for certain players, and what the value of your players actually are.

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Previously I pointed out a few options and a few teams that look like good fits for the Wild as trade partners, and on the eve of the draft and the windfall of moves that are to come another team looks like some Fletcher should be talking with.

The defending Stanley Cup champs the Pittsburgh Penguins are in need of a defensive shot in the arm.  Last season many wondered if they had the defensive talent to make a run of it.   They did make it all the way to a championship, but many are saying that was in spite of their blueline.

Most of all though Pittsburgh is going to have to make a few moves to shed cap space.  Right now they are in the rough position of being over the cap by $1.38 million, and will need to find ways to clear space.  Typically that means that normally unattainable players all the sudden become attainable, and you can get those players a value price.

Nov 17, 2015; Pittsburgh, PA, USA; Minnesota Wild left wing Thomas Vanek (26) shoots against Pittsburgh Penguins goalie Marc-Andre Fleury (29) during the third period at the CONSOL Energy Center. The Penguins won 4-3. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports
Nov 17, 2015; Pittsburgh, PA, USA; Minnesota Wild left wing Thomas Vanek (26) shoots against Pittsburgh Penguins goalie Marc-Andre Fleury (29) during the third period at the CONSOL Energy Center. The Penguins won 4-3. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports /

Looking at the Pens lineup there is a deal to be made with Minnesota.  The Wild should be asking about the availability of forwards Patric Hornqvist and Carl Hagelin.  Both offer solid forward options and could certainly be available because of the Pens cap issues.

Hornqvist is coming off a 51 point campaign in the regular season (22 goals and 29 assists) and a 13 point run in the playoffs (9 goals and 4 assists).  He’s a consistent 20 + goal scorer in his eight NHL seasons, so he adds more scoring to the Wild’s goal thirsty roster.   Right now is carrying a $4.25 million cap hit which is manageable for the Wild.

Hagelin is more of a two-way threat who can approach but not exceed the 20 goal mark, but he still puts up a solid point total.  Still the Wild need to take a good look at him considering the woes on the penalty kill and to beef up their physical play.  His current cap hit of $4 million is also very manageable.

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The Wild can offer the normal defensive suspects such as Dumba, Brodin, or Scandella but with the Pens need to get under the cap they will be looking for cheaper option than Brodin or Scandella.  Dumba is the clear answer in this situation because his even with his current RFA status it is very unlikely that he will sign for any more than $2 million at the very most.  That right there would single handedly solve the Pens salary cap overage if they were to swap either Hornqvist or Hagelin for Dumba.

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Lots of time is still left and I’m sure there’s a ton of phone calls and meetings we don’t know about that can change any trade rumor quickly.  Still the Wild need to examine this option because it make sense for both sides.  Really in the end that’s what a good trade is about helping both sides achieve their goals.  Should be a wild ride in the next couple of days so stay tuned.