With less than a week before next Monday’s NHL Trade Deadline, the Minnesota Wild have veered hard into sellers territory as they have won just one game in nine since the All-Star break.
Minnesota’s most recent loss — a 4-0 embarrassing home defeat to St. Louis — perhaps cemented general manager Paul Fenton‘s direction on how he should handle his club over the next six days.
In the wake of this most recent loss, the sentiment among most of the fanbase has become one of ‘just blow this team up.’ While the idea is not farfetched, the fact remains that Fenton needs to make trades to better his team. He can not afford to make trades just to say he has made trades.
Last Friday, Ben Remington wrote on the trust factor that you should have with Fenton as he handles his first trade deadline in charge of the Wild. In the wake of the Nino Niederreiter for Victor Rask trade — which has already been seen as a massive train wreck for the Wild — there is currently not much optimism that Fenton can make trades to better this team over the next six days and beyond.
Not forgetting the first major trade Chuck Fletcher made with the Wild, perhaps there is a bit of a learning curve that comes with first-time general managers. If that is the case, then Fenton needs to be a bit more tentative with the upcoming deadline especially considering the market currently is favoring buyers not sellers.
Minnesota has few rentals to put out there in the next six days, but the most notable one is center Eric Staal who could garner some attention after the Matt Duchene sweepstakes come to an end. Sure, you could also get something for the likes of Eric Fehr, Matt Hendricks or Brad Hunt, but Minnesota’s best deals have to come from trading the likes of Mikael Granlund, Charlie Coyle and Jared Spurgeon. All of whom have one year left after this one on their contracts.
Notable Wild Players on TSN’s Trade Bait List:
9. Charlie Coyle
30. Eric Staal
Another player that could potentially get put out there in terms of being traded is Jason Zucker, who has four seasons left on his contract after this year. Zucker was already in trade rumors last offseason, and could very well wind up there again.
But unless the Wild are getting a return that benefits them for Granlund, Coyle, and/or Spurgeon, there should be no rush to shuttle them out the door at this deadline. Wait for the summer and find a move that is more fitting for what you are looking for. Trading said players just to trade them will no doubt result in another Niederreiter for Rask deal, which would further cripple this ailing roster.
Only jettisoning Staal at the deadline may not be the sexiest strategy on Fenton’s strategy, but it would be the correct one unless he can get what he wants for the players under team control for next year and beyond. Teams at the deadline are inclined to give more for players with a year left on their contract over rentals, but as said before this year is very much a buyers market — which does not favor the Wild.
In addition to selling off these players just so you can say you are selling them, you would be very much selling low on Granlund, Zucker and to a lesser extent Coyle — although you could make the case his ceiling isn’t far from what he is currently playing at. Again, that is something seen with the Niederreiter trade as the winger was mired in an extended slump before getting shipped to Carolina in exchange for Rask.
There is no quick fix to the Wild roster. Their woes — which goaltending is very much at the forefront of right now — cannot be solved by just one or two moves over the next six days. It is going to take several moves over the course of another year or two before they have a chance to get back into a good spot.
That is, of course, entirely assuming they just don’t go the route of a full-on rebuild. Odds on that happening are still slim, but they are certainly much better than what they were a few weeks ago when it looked like the team was making a turn for the better heading into the All-Star break.
All this turmoil, by the way, has come with the Wild still clinging onto the last playoff spot in the West. A pretty ridiculous position to be in considering how poor the play has been since the break.