The NHL trade deadline is just over a month away, and speculation now runs rampant about which players are on the trading block. With the Minnesota Wild 40% of the way through their 56-game season, they find themselves just a point behind the Vegas Golden Knights for the top spot in the Honda West Division.
While the Wild have been performing above expectations this season, they are still far from perfect as a hockey team, and general manager Bill Guerin will be looking to make upgrades to his squad in both the short- and long-term.
With the Wild doing so well this year, should Guerin try and make a splash to bolster the roster for a postseason run?
No. The Wild should stay away from the trade market as the upcoming deadline approaches.
They are up against the salary cap
At the time of publishing, the Wild only have $1.3 million in cap space. When the deadline rolls around on April 12th, they will have $3.1 million in projected space, and any player they would likely want to acquire (*cough* a center) would certainly cost more than that. Sure, you can send a player back the other way to help balance the books, but that means you are probably giving up an asset to help make the deal.
Most of the league is strapped for cap space too
Half the league is also in the same boat as the Wild. Sixteen teams will have less than $4 million of available cap space on April 12th, making the allure of using the deadline for a rental non-existent. NHL general managers also tend not to get as creative in times like this, so one would speculate that the deadline will be very dull because over half the league is pushing the salary cap. They all would rather wait until the offseason and try and make something happen then.
there aren’t many centers available
The Wild are good on the wings, defense, and now in goal with the emergence of Kaapo Kahkonen. Their only weakness is down the middle, and this trade deadline isn’t exactly screaming as a buyer’s market for centers.
Jack Eichel’s name gets tossed out there in trade discussions because of his possible frustration with the Buffalo Sabres’ spot in the standings and a serious lack of team-building around him. Still, the Wild would have to move heaven and earth to get him to Minnesota. Do the Wild even have the prospects and draft capital Buffalo would seek? Just asking that question makes you lean toward no, so don’t expect Eichel to show up in Minnesota.
Don’t forget that Minnesota’s 2020 first-round pick, Marco Rossi, will slot in at center when he returns from his battle with post-COVID life and could easily turn into the top center the Wild need.
Just because the Wild are in the thick of things this year doesn’t necessarily equate to making a trade-deadline push to help their playoff chances. It’s more reasonable to expect them to stand pat, as they should, than to try and make a trade — and the same holds for much of the rest of the league.