Minnesota Wild: How To Handle The Log-Jam On Defense

ST PAUL, MN - APRIL 17: Matt Dumba #24 of the Minnesota Wild controls the puck against Blake Wheeler #26 of the Winnipeg Jets as teammate Devan Dubnyk #40 defends the net during the first period in Game Four of the Western Conference First Round during the 2018 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs at Xcel Energy Center on April 17, 2018 in St Paul, Minnesota. The Jets defeated the Wild 2-0. (Photo by Hannah Foslien/Getty Images)
ST PAUL, MN - APRIL 17: Matt Dumba #24 of the Minnesota Wild controls the puck against Blake Wheeler #26 of the Winnipeg Jets as teammate Devan Dubnyk #40 defends the net during the first period in Game Four of the Western Conference First Round during the 2018 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs at Xcel Energy Center on April 17, 2018 in St Paul, Minnesota. The Jets defeated the Wild 2-0. (Photo by Hannah Foslien/Getty Images) /
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If there’s one position the Minnesota Wild don’t lack depth, it’s on defense. Granted, their top-six doesn’t place in a truly elite tier, but it sure as heck comes quite close.

At the top of the pile is Ryan Suter, now a seasoned veteran with the Minnesota Wild, who can be relied upon for forty to fifty points a year. He, however, is a bit of a problem given his age (he’s now thirty-three) and the fact he carries a $7.5 million cap hit until the 2024-25 season, when he’ll be very much a grizzled veteran.

Barring, of course, him demonstrating the same impressive physical feats as Zdeno Chara of the Boston Bruins, who keeps putting up the minutes despite being the wrong side of forty.

The deal isn’t fantastic but would be reasonable, especially if the point production doesn’t drop into the thirties as he advances in years. Hopefully, his recent injury hasn’t slowed his game down.

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Moving past Suter, you have Jared Spurgeon; a right shooting defenseman that has been the picture of reliability in the top-four for the Minnesota Wild. He’s not the strongest player and may not lay the big hits but he gets his job done effectively and again offers up strong points totals from the blue-line. His cap hit of $5.1 million expires next season.

Matt Dumba broke out in a big way last year, delivering a fifty point year, proving his worth as an elite right-sided player. He will be hoping to repay the faith of a $6 million contract that keeps in Minnesota for a good few more years. He is however arguably the biggest trade chip the team has. Teams in the league would bend over backwards for a point-producing right-side guy like him.

And then there’s Jonas Brodin; often the forgotten man in the top-four but he’s everything you expect of a modern-day Swedish defenseman. Calm, efficient and just generally quite effective. He doesn’t often put a foot wrong, doesn’t offer up amazing points but equally can be relied upon to be mobile, move the puck well and battle against the boards.

Moving past the clear first four on the team sheet, you have a group that are all competing for the last two spots; Greg Pateryn, Nate Prosser, Gustav Olofsson, Nick Seeler, Ryan Murphy, Carson Soucy and Louie Belpedio all have seen at least one game of NHL action.

The obvious options there are the experience of Pateryn and Prosser, but the younger guys are snapping at their heels. Nick Seeler is looking to breakthrough this year and you can rest assured, the others don’t want to be held up in the American Hockey League too long.

To clear the log-jam, the Minnesota Wild General Manager Paul Fenton, needs to be working the phones. There’s no clear candidate that you’d want to trade out of that bunch but Matt Dumba would likely net the biggest returns, being an elite right-sided player without a no-move clause.

Alternately, do you package some of the younger faces that will struggle to breakthrough right now and ship them off in return for a bigger prize for Minnesota?

It’s a really tough decision to make; this defensive core has helped the team to multiple decent finishes in their division and needs to be maintained to do so as the division gets stronger at the top.

Do you deal away part of it in the hopes of getting a difference-maker in return? One that can help the team out of the first round.

Also. Ryan Suter's Return Is A Big Deal. light

Or do you sit back and let the core continue as is, let the cap space sit there dangerously close to being maxed out and see how everything goes when contract renewals come up?