What Do the Minnesota Wild Lose in Trading Eric Staal?

Eric Staal was a fan favorite for his scoring ability and passion for the game. What else do the Minnesota Wild lose in trading him to the Buffalo Sabres?

It has been over a week since the Minnesota Wild traded Eric Staal to the Buffalo Sabres in exchange for Marcus Johansson. The one-for-one transaction was shocking and made the analytics community erupt.

The Wild and Sabres have executed yet another trade, the Sabres felt the need to come out of the trade a winner after losing Marcus Foligno, a move they most certainly regret.

My take on the trade: The Sabres definitely got the better player in Eric Staal. I don’t think this move makes sense unless there is more in the making and Guerin just isn’t showing his cards. However, this move is a testament to Guerin’s willingness to alter the roster to become faster and younger. This trade definitely fulfills those two requirements.

Back in his days with Washington, Johansson was a top-six forward and was extremely productive. Likewise, both Johansson and Bjugstad aren’t a long-term solution but are suitable options in the short-term.

I think Guerin should have asked for a draft pick in the return given Staal is the better player by a large margin. I think the trade primarily depends on whether Marcus Johansson can resurrect his career.

In the aftermath of the trade, what do the Wild lose in the Eric Staal departure?

Most importantly, the Wild are missing a top-six forward. It is hard to predict when and to what degree Staal’s regression will entail, but it is highly unlikely Staal faces regression next season. He was very productive this season despite a drop in point production. Given his track record and his overall very positive impact this season, he should be a good fit in Buffalo as their second-line center.

Eric Staal’s market value is $7.7 million according to Dom Luszczyszyn of The Athletic. Eric Staal has been worth roughly two wins per season over three years. That will cause a significant drop in team wins unless the Wild accumulate it from another asset or Johansson performs better than he has of late.

It will be interesting to see how the Wild’s offense fares since Staal has routinely been one of the best offensive forwards for the Wild. Staal ranked in the 86th percentile in even-strength offense over the past three seasons. Staal led the Wild this season in goals for per hour.

After Jason Zucker was moved to Pittsburgh, Staal took over as the leader in the shooting percentage category as well. Furthermore, he ranks in the 83rd percentile in power-play offense over the past three seasons. Staal recorded 19 goals, 28 assists, and 47 points in what could be considered a down year.

The Wild lost much more than a positive impactful forward on the ice, they are missing a heart and soul leader.

All Data Via Hockey-Reference, Evolving-Hockey, & JFresh