For a couple of hours on Monday afternoon, it looked as if Zach Parise had played his final game for the Minnesota Wild.
In the build-up to Monday afternoon’s NHL trade deadline, it was reported by several NHL insiders that the Wild were on the verge of trading arguably the face of their franchise to the New York Islanders. Forward Andrew Ladd, who was buried in the minor leagues before being called up after the deadline had passed, was reported to be as part of the return for the Wild.
The trade was going to be the biggest of the day around the league, with the buzz surrounding both teams on the potential deal.
Ultimately, the deal fell through though as neither general manager really gave an explanation for what happened. With the money involved, it seemed to be a complicated deal from the get-go. However, it was apparently closer than not, as both players had already agreed to waive their no-trade clauses to move the trade on in the process.
Wild general manager Bill Guerin was mum on the details of the trade and what went on before Monday’s deadline. While he gave other lines about having optimism for the team and Parise moving forward, he did drop one little tidbit about No. 11’s future in Minnesota.
It has been no secret that in the last year Parise has been unimpressed with the team’s direction, as they are currently on pace to miss the playoffs for the second consecutive year. Guerin seems to be trying to retool this team on the fly, notably trading Jason Zucker two weeks ago to Pittsburgh with the centerpieces being future assets. With the 35-year-old Parise entering the twilight of his career, he really wants another kick at the can when it comes to winning the Stanley Cup.
By the time the Wild can get back to that level, it might be too late for Parise.
The big takeaway from Monday – if there really is one – is that while the Wild failed to move Parise, the door remains open for him to be traded down the road. Guerin indicated that in the quote above, and will continue to have a dialogue on the winger’s future in Minnesota.
While the Wild and Guerin do seemingly want to move Parise at some point in the near future to get some more cap flexibility, there remains the risk of the cap recapture penalty should Parise retire before his contract runs out. After this season, five years remain on the 13-year, $98 million deal Parise signed on July 4, 2012, along with Ryan Suter.
With each passing season, that recapture penalty gets more severe for the Wild — with the ultimate potential of a $19 million cap penalty in the 2024-25 season.
Other than the Parise rumors, it was an otherwise quiet day from the Wild team offices outside of some minor-league paper moves. Minnesota had other trade chips team coveted in Jonas Brodin, Matt Dumba and Marcus Foligno, but nothing appeared to ever have come close in terms of trade despite their value in a very seller heavy trade market.
The team is now set for the remainder of the season, and the Wild appear likely to miss the playoffs barring some kind of miracle run — one that would have to be led by goaltending, which has been the Achilles heel for the team this season.
No trades on Monday means there will be plenty for Guerin to do once the offseason commences. Finding a top center and better goaltending are among the top priorities, among other things. The door will still be open to moving Parise, along with the highly-coveted trio of Brodin, Foligno and Dumba.
The question is, can all that happen in an offseason? Can Guerin truly re-shape this team so much in a time when GMs don’t make a lot of trades?
Only time will tell, but after Monday’s near trade, there just still seems to be so many things needed to right this ship. But also after Monday, no one is safe after Guerin nearly moved an immovable contract. Give him a little bit more time in the offseason, and he just might be able to move the remainder of Parise’s deal off the books and give the Wild more flexibility moving forward.