Gone Wild Mailbag: Mikko Koivu Returning, Domi, and the Winter Classic?

EDMONTON, ALBERTA - AUGUST 07: Nico Sturm #7 of the Minnesota Wild is congratulated by his teammates after scoring a goal against the Vancouver Canucks during the second period in Game Four of the Western Conference Qualification Round prior to the 2020 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs at Rogers Place on August 07, 2020 in Edmonton, Alberta. (Photo by Jeff Vinnick/Getty Images)
EDMONTON, ALBERTA - AUGUST 07: Nico Sturm #7 of the Minnesota Wild is congratulated by his teammates after scoring a goal against the Vancouver Canucks during the second period in Game Four of the Western Conference Qualification Round prior to the 2020 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs at Rogers Place on August 07, 2020 in Edmonton, Alberta. (Photo by Jeff Vinnick/Getty Images) /

It’s been quite a while since our last mailbag and we thought there wouldn’t be a better time than Labor Day Weekend. Let’s dive in!

The first question comes from CJ Wodushek (@squeege800 on twitter), a contributor to FanSided’s PredLines (our Nashville Predators FS affiliate), but is also a lowkey fan of the Avalanche? Maybe he’s just a big Central Division man. Anyways, he asked:

It certainly feels like we all have come to the conclusion that the CapFinn Mikko Koivu is retiring. First, he saw his role on the team drop dramatically. Here were the lines back in October:

And here were the lines for the final game of the Wild’s Season:

Koivu was reportedly upset about the reduced role he had been put in but eventually came to accept it. Another interesting aspect of Koivu’s potential retirement, General Manager Bill Guerin approached Koivu on waiving his No Move Clause in a potential trade with the New York Islanders, but Mikko declined to do so. As of now, he has played the entirety of his NHL career with the Minnesota Wild, maybe he wants to retire as a career Wild member.

Finally, it could rely on what Management wants to do as a team moving forward. If they want to get younger and give their newer NHLers more experience/responsibility, they may hesitate to resign Koivu.

Management could be convinced to resign Koivu if he’s willing to take an inexpensive contract (league min, for example), but even still, it occupies a roster spot that could be used on someone who will have a larger impact in the future than what Koivu could provide.

For instance, it looks like Nico Sturm is going to make the NHL roster out of camp, Ryan Donato and Victor Rask still struggle to make the lineup game in and game out, and who knows what Management wants to try to do to improve their ability up the Middle.

So, I don’t have a great answer for you.

If the Wild believe they can compete sooner and make bigger splashes in the offseason, then I think Minnesota won’t bring back Mikko Koivu.

If the Wild believe they won’t be able to improve dramatically as a team, kick the can down a year, and try to make bigger improvements after next season, then they could bring Mikko back for a Victory Lap.

Alright, that was a longer answer than anticipated. Next one:

Wellllll, not really a question but we can address this. I know MTL Head Coach Claude Julien and Max Domi himself see him as a Center, the issue with that is Montreal has a lot of capable centers up and down their lineup, to the point that Domi would likely find himself as 4C with the steps Jesperi Kotkaniemi and Nick Suzuki have taken recently.

Here’s another thing, I don’t exactly think he’s a center, at least not one the Wild need. He’s a good player, but I don’t think he is a 1st or 2nd line center on a Stanley Cup Winning Team. We know those types of players don’t grow on trees, but it’s not the improvement the Wild are looking for.

Also, the Wild are almost certainly not trading Kaprizov or Fiala, unless it’s an absolute slam dunk deal. For instance, insane overpayment.

The argument that Gretzky got traded, and therefore anyone could be traded is a bit stale and overused but does provide an interesting question. Who truly is unmoveable in the NHL? Right now for me, it’s Connor McDavid, Nathan MacKinnon, Artemi Panarin, Victor Hedman, and Carter Hart. Who would you guys say? Leave a comment down below, tweet at us @FSGonePuckWild, or even leave a comment on our Facebook page.

And allow me to nip this at the bud, I’m not saying Crosby, Malkin, Ovechkin are worse than those listed above, but I think in the later stages of their careers, their teams would be willing to move them at an incredibly high cost to improve the future of the franchise. Plus, almost sure all three have NMC’s so they would have to be willing to waive it.

And that tangential conversation has spurred two more:

First, when you have Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin on your team, are you ever really allowed to rebuild? They’re too good to ever tank, and therefore, have to compete nearly every year. We mentioned it was likely the Penguins were going to keep this year’s 15th overall draft pick because it was the lowest selection of a pick they owned (essentially didn’t acquire from another team in a trade) since they drafted (I believe?) Jordan Staal Second overall in 2006.

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And then Jeremy Rutherford used that pick in a package in a trade to overpay for Kasperi Kapanen. Further bolstering the idea that with Sid and Geno on the team, they have to go for it every year.

Second, let’s have a quick discussion about No Move Clauses. Now, I understand that when we discuss moving players with NMCs, people are always quick to point out that they can nix any trade that they don’t like. However, if you were an NHLer with a NMC, and learned that your team was trying to move you, would you want to stick around that much?

Take Jason Zucker for example, while he didn’t have a NMC, he did have a limited No Trade Clause that restricted where he could be traded. While the rumors piled under Paul Fenton that Zucker could be moved, ultimately it never occurred till Guerin was at the helm. The rumors still built, and after his last game as a Wild player, one where he fought Jake Virtanen, he was clearly exhausted of the whispers. Funny enough, traded to the Penguins, continuing the idea that the Penguins always have to go for it with Crosby and Malkin.

So that was a longwinded example about players looking to be moved with trade restriction to say this: If the Minnesota Wild wanted to move Mats Zuccarello out of the organization (and I’m not making the claim they are), why would he stick around where he wasn’t entirely wanted? While the NMC does give you protection from being traded on a dime, it just allows you to pick where you go should you get moved.

We saw this with Phil Kessel, who nixed a trade to Minnesota but did approve of a trade to Arizona, where Rick Tocchet was the Head Coach after being an Assistant in Pittsburgh for some time. We almost saw this with Zach Parise where he was willing to move his NMC to be traded to the Islanders, where his Dad J.P. had played some and rejoin the GM that drafted him Lou Lamoriello.

Curious to see if that deal may get revisited. I know the Islanders are in cap trouble, but this run they are on is quite good. One more offensive tool or maybe an upgrade to the goaltending situation could put that team in a position to be in Contention for a while.

OKAY SO BACK TO THE ORIGINAL TWITTER COMMENT. Goodness, that was a road I did not expect we would travel down. What were we talking about? Ah, the Wild not trading Kaprizov, Fiala, Boldy, Khovanov, Beckman, and/or 9th overall for Domi

Still, I’m nearly certain there isn’t anyone willing to pay the House, the Farm, their Savings, and their Cupboard Draft Capital to peel away Kaprizov and/or Fiala.

In terms of Boldy, Khovanov, Beckman, and/or the 9th Overall Draft Selection, it is silly to trade any of your prospects that you’re excited about before seeing them in the Show. We sometimes hypothesize moving Greenway/Kunin because we’ve seen them in NHL competition and could be expendable, but even then it’s pretty risky because they’re still developing.

I don’t see the Wild trading any of the prospects/the 9th overall pick for Domi or a center that is less than a first-line capability, to be frank.

For Matt Murray, doesn’t make sense to trade any of those significant pieces for the negotiating rights to a goalie. Furthermore, it’s difficult to justify that price for a player who, while had two Stanley Cup Rings (both before he officially finished his Rookie Season, fun fact), arguably lost his starting job this year. Also, puts the Wild in a tough situation in the Expansion Draft. Teams have to have a Goalie available for the Seattle Expansion Team to select if they want to, so…

Goodness, another longwinded response. Luckily, only one more question in the Mailbag.

Can’t see it happening without a Vaccine for COVID-19. The League would almost certainly put the event off a year and pack the stadium, rather than continue to have the event with a limited attendance capability if any. It’s a specialized event, I think they would try to maximize the profit on it.

I can’t imagine a Winter Classic with at least 50% of the attendance missing would look great on TV either. There were also rumblings that the League and MPLS-St. Paul was going to put a Winter Festival/Hockey Festival on that would be capped with the Winter Classic, which again, can’t see happening in the world we currently live in.

It’s unfortunate, but it does provide a huge opportunity. The NHL, the Minnesota Wild, and Minneapolis-St. Paul will have expanded time to plan for the event and to do something special with it when it does eventually happen.

Plus, here’s an idea. Put the Winter Classic off a year, still release the Winter Classic jersey next season. It’ll work as an Alternate for the season they were supposed to have the Winter Classic and the season they’ll actually get to have the event, and you can still make solid money off the jersey with added exposure.

Just a thought. Hey Minnesota Wild, if you’re looking for a Business Strategy/Marketing Intern, have some great ideas. I’ll send the resume in.

Despite the few questions, still managed to get quite the read for y’all. Hope you guys had a great Labor Day Weekend, are doing well, and for those returning to school today (whether it be as a student or a teacher), I hope you have a great semester! We had our warmup in the Spring, so we’re prepared for what it’ll look like now.