Minnesota Wild: Does a Trade Deadline Move Make Sense?

The Minnesota Wild are playing great hockey and look to be in their best midseason position in franchise history.  With that in mind looking ahead to the trade deadline does it make sense to make a move or stand pat?

We’re almost to the half way mark of the 2016-17 season and the Minnesota Wild are looking at one of their best mid-season point totals in franchise history.  The winning ways of new Head Coach Bruce Boudreau, the outstanding goaltending of Devan Dubnyk, and the addition of the veteran presence of Eric Staal have all combined to make what has been a special season thus far in Minnesota.

The chemistry up and down the lineup seems to be in the right place as the Wild are knocking on the door for the division and conference leads, and perhaps just as important boast the highest goal differential in the Western Conference at +38.

With a goal differential like that it can be easily said that the Wild are getting it done on both sides of the puck.  Offensively they look sharp and defensively the Wild are perhaps the best team in the NHL.  The depth a defense has always been a strength and has always been rumored to be a well in which to draw from to facilitate a trade to bump up the forwards and their scoring punch.

NHL: Columbus Blue Jackets at Minnesota Wild

This mid-season seems to bring the same rumors of the Wild looking for forward scoring help with a possible defenseman for forward trade just as other midseasons past have.  According to the Hockey News’ Lyle Richardson today based on comments by TSN’s Pierre LeBrun, predicts that the Wild will need to move a defender due to possibly losing one in the expansion draft.

LeBrun thinks that GM Chuck Fletcher is looking to keep his defensive corps intact and will not move a defender before the trade deadline despite his wishes to acquire a forward.  That might be a smart play for the Wild GM considering the way the team is right now.

The Wild are arguably the best team in the Western Conference right now, and as built right now look to be a playoff run contender.  Could there be another piece to make that run?  Sure there always could be, but consider that the Wild will have to remove a vital defensive piece for a quality forward.

NHL: Winnipeg Jets at Minnesota Wild

The limited cap space of the Wild almost assures that that if they want good forward talent, which costs usually anywhere from $2-5 million, they will need to give up a defender with an equivalent cap number.  That means all of the Wild’s defenders are in play except for Christian Folin in a one for one swap.

Additionally draft picks for talent would not work either considering the outgoing cap space is zero with a draft pick, and the incoming cap space from the traded forward would exceed the Wild’s current cap space of $913,646.

Are the Wild going to be the same defensive team without one of their current defenders?  Hard to say, but the good money is that if you remove any of the starting 6 defensemen there will be a change in the group that could change the whole team that is currently winning.

So, what if the Wild stay pat with the team that they have?  Can they make a run?  The smart money would be yes.  Injuries could blow that plan to smithereens, but the idea of not ruining the chemistry of this team by removing a piece and introducing a new one might be the best answer.

The concern over the expansion draft is valid, but can be addressed any time before the June 17th deadline for protected players to be named.  A summer trade of a defender might be the better option if it can be done, as it would keep the current Wild team together and still get that value in return before the expansion draft.

Lots of factors could change this idea between now and the March trade deadline.  But for now it seems the Wild might be best served by taking this team as it is now in the playoffs to contend for a title.  Sometimes the best move is no move at all.