What do the Minnesota Wild do if They Don’t Trade Matt Dumba?

Feb 23, 2020; Saint Paul, Minnesota, USA; Minnesota Wild defenseman Matt Dumba (24) skates with the puck against the St. Louis Blues in the first period at Xcel Energy Center. Mandatory Credit: David Berding-USA TODAY Sports
Feb 23, 2020; Saint Paul, Minnesota, USA; Minnesota Wild defenseman Matt Dumba (24) skates with the puck against the St. Louis Blues in the first period at Xcel Energy Center. Mandatory Credit: David Berding-USA TODAY Sports /

Minnesota Wild fans expect Matt Dumba to be traded at some point. But reports are, offers have been underwhelming. What if the Wild don’t trade Matt Dumba?

The moment Jonas Brodin inked his 7-year extension, Minnesota Wild fans felt like they saw the writing on the wall. Matt Dumba was going to be on the move.

Minnesota Wild fans believe that Matt Dumba has very strong value. He’s a right-handed offensively talented defenseman who can score prolifically. This perceived value could possibly be inspired by the quiet rumors that Paul Fenton had offered Matt Dumba to the Toronto Maple Leafs for William Nylander while the young swede was holding out during contract negotiations in 2018.

However, Bill Guerin hasn’t traded Matt Dumba yet, and reports from respected writers like Michael Russo in articles and podcasts are that the offers have been underwhelming. This leaves the organization in a precarious situation.

First and most obviously, the Seattle Expansion Draft is staring at the Minnesota Wild directly in the face. Here are some of the expansion draft rules: Every NHL team is only allowed to protect some combination of 7 Forwards-3 Defensemen-1 Goalie OR 8 Skaters-1 Goalie.

This first rule provides obvious issues: Jared Spurgeon, Ryan Suter, Jonas Brodin, and Matt Dumba are all capable defensemen that are worthy of being protected. However, if they want to protect all four, they are only able to protect four other skaters. Is that what’s really best for the organization?

Here’s another rule: Anybody with a Full No Move Clause has to be protected. That means players like Zach Parise and Mats Zuccarello have to be protected. Specifically for the Defensive group, Ryan Suter, Jared Spurgeon, and Jonas Brodin all have No Move Clauses. So they must be protected.

If the Wild decide to protect 8 skaters, they must protect the aforementioned three defensemen with No Move Clauses, Zach Parise, and Mats Zuccarello. For argument sake, let’s say they also protect Matt Dumba.

That means only two more spots remain for skaters like Kevin Fiala, Marcus Foligno, Jordan Greenway, Joel Eriksson Ek, Ryan Hartman, Nico Sturm, and Carson Soucy. That’s a healthy pool for the Seattle Kraken to choose from.

Bill Guerin might just have to come to terms with the fact that the Minnesota Wild are simply going to lose a good player to the expansion draft and the Seattle Kraken.

Second, the Minnesota Wild have invested an incredible amount into their defensive group.

Jonas Brodin makes $4.166M next season and $6M for the seven seasons after. Matt Dumba makes $6M until 2023-2024. They’re both talented and could be top-line defensemen on other teams. Suter and Spurgeon both make $7.5M+ for the next half-decade and likely aren’t going anywhere soon.

The Wild have to look to divert some of their value into the forward group. We know the Wild haven’t had a franchise-changing player since Marian Gaborik, and are in desperate need of more scoring.

Here’s an interesting fact: Looking at the past five Stanley Cup Champions (TBL, STL, WSH, PITT, PITT), only St. Louis had their top four defensemen with a Cap Hit % higher than 5% of the total cap. The Wild currently have all four defensemen at 6.0% of the total Cap, and with the Brodin extension, he will have a contract above 6% of the total cap.

It’s a really roundabout way to say that the Minnesota Wild have likely overinvested in their defense group, compared to what previous Stanley Cup Champions have done.

Those teams have also had Hall of Fame Talents like Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin, Alex Ovechkin, Patrick Kane, Jonathan Toews, and have gotten incredible value out of young defenseman contracts like Justin Schultz for Pittsburgh, Vince Dunn for St. Louis, or Mikhail Sergachev for Tampa Bay. Still, Hall of Fame Talents don’t grow on trees, so the Wild have to get creative.

It’s not shocking that the offers have been underwhelming after the comparative down year Matt Dumba had when compared to his shortened 2018-2019 season. Without much improvement, it may be difficult to see those offers improve. Even so, if Matt Dumba returns to form, is trading him worthwhile? These are the decisions Management has to make.

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So, allow me to propose a situation. Let’s say the Minnesota Wild and Matt Dumba have a decent season, but the trade offers still never improve. Dumba almost gets traded at the deadline, but Bill Guerin stays strong, refusing to trade a piece for less than he wants.

Is it out of the question that the Minnesota Wild ultimately decides that the organization should protect 7 Forwards-3 Defensemen-1 Goalie and expose Matt Dumba?

So before I give my reasoning, I’ll round out who gets protected first. From the forward group, it would be Zach Parise (NMC), Mats Zuccarello (NMC), Kevin Fiala, Jordan Greenway, Joel Eriksson Ek, Marcus Foligno, and Nico Sturm (could make the case for Hartman).

For the defensemen, it would be the three NMC contracts: Ryan Suter, Jared Spurgeon, and Jonas Brodin. For goalie, they would protect Kaapo Kahkonen.

That notably leaves Matt Dumba, Carson Soucy, Ryan Hartman, and Cam Talbot exposed for expansion. Much less available for the Seattle Kraken to pick from. I believe that the Kraken would take Matt Dumba who is on a solid contract with decent value.

That keeps Carson Soucy who just re-signed a contract as a UFA, Hartman who is an RFA going into expansion, and Talbot who can make a dynamite tandem with Kahkonen, with the Minnesota Wild. This also guarantees protection to a lot more of the younger talent like Jordan Greenway, which I think is very valuable for the future of the team.

It might not be a popular decision but it gives the Wild plenty of flexibility if Dumba gets selected. Removes $6M/year off the books for the Wild to go tackle other issues. Plus, could also guarantee a Roster Spot for Calen Addison. In the flat cap world the NHL is now going to be operating in for the next season or two, Cap Space is a phenomenal weapon.

Combine that $6M with the other UFA contracts that expire and Devan Dubnyk’s salary retention off the books, minus Brodin’s Extension kicking in, the Wild will have $22.859M in Cap Space, which doesn’t include the Cap Hit’s of RFAs whose contracts expire this season and what they may re-sign for.

Kevin Fiala will almost certainly get a solid contract barring a terrible season and Kirill Kaprizov will have to be re-signed as well. Still, the Wild could have a healthy amount of cap space to use to solve their issues.

It might not be the popular or easy decision, but if Bill Guerin doesn’t begin to hear offers that are in the ballpark of what he wants for Matt Dumba, I think it’s in the Minnesota Wild’s best interest to protect more forwards and expose Dumba. The team needs to divest from their defensive group and begin to solve their lack of ability at the Center position.

Next time, we’ll discuss what the Minnesota Wild could and/or should do with the large amount of cap space they have at their disposal for the next offseason.

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