Yesterday, we looked at whether or not the Wild will be buyers or sellers at the deadline. While we may not have settled it, and may have even been a bit vague, we know that the standings complicate everything, and it makes it nearly impossible to get inside Chuck Fletcher's head.
We know he wants to make the playoffs. Even if in his heart of hearts he knows they cannot possibly win the Cup, making the playoffs is a big deal. Money, prestige, money, a heightened league profile, money... all of these play into why they want to simply make the dance.
With that in mind, the Wild will do what they need to do as long as they are in the hunt. There will be no rental player brought in just to make it over th hump. However, some of the Wild's UFAs may become rental players as Fletcher sticks to his plan to make the playoffs.
After the jump, who are the tradable assets the Wild have, and what are they worth?
|2010 - Andrew Brunette||49||12||16||28||-6||12||7||0||3||61|
As much as his speed limits his options, his ability to get where he needs to be, and his ability to put the puck in the net are extremely valuable. Always undervalued in the NHL, he is a perennial 20-25 goal scorer, something every team needs. He is magical behind the net, and inside the circles in front of it. He is just as likely to score a garbage goal as he is to make the most beautiful pass you have ever seen. To doubt Bruno's value is to doubt the value of gold.
Still, he is likely not part of the plan next season, and save for Jose Theodore, has the highest value for a UFA on this roster. Wild fans watched Bruno leave once, and it was terrible. Watching him leave again could be worse. The playoff push without Bruno could be null and void, but his value on the trade market could creep up to the point where Fletcher cannot pass on the deal. That, and Brunette deserves a chance to play for a contender.
Value: Second round pick, maybe 2nd + prospect or another pick
Prediction: Traded mid-day on deadline day for a second round pick.
|2010 - Antti Miettinen||40||9||14||23||-7||18||4||0||2||102|
Ah, Mittens. What is it that makes this guy such a conundrum? Put on a line with Mikko Koivu, it makes Mikko better, yet somehow, Miettinen's stats don't show it. Take him off the Koivu line, and Koivu struggles. Put him on the line, and the RW on that line is wasted. I don't know if it is the missed shots, too much defensive responsibility, an unwillingness to crash the net hard, or something else, but Miettinen is one of the more frustrating players to watch.
He works hard (Sorry Tom), he is always going 100%, just not in a way that seems to work with what everyone else is doing. Fletcher and Todd Richards both swear he is a top six forward. That said, I see his value to a potential contender as a depth forward, possibly as a third line checker with offensive upside.
Value: It strikes me as odd to write this, but the value here is probably a second round pick. That seems to be the going rate for veteran wingers at the deadline. If Todd White and Eric Belanger are worth 2nd rounders, so is Miettinen.
Prediction: Not traded.
|2010 - Chuck Kobasew||35||9||4||13||1||13||0||0||1||43|
Brought in for the cost of this year's second round pick, Craig Weller, and Alexander Fallstrom, Kobasew never quite worked out to be what I think the Wild thought he would be. Giving up a prospect and a pick should net a fairly solid offensive talent, and Kobasew just has not been that. Great energy guy, filling any role they have asked him to. However, the Wild have Cal Clutterbuck to fill the same role, and he is a whole lot cheaper, and didn't cost a pick nor a prospect.
Kobasew was brought in to fill a void at forward at a time the Wild had some major injury issues. After those players returned, Kobasew had no real place in the lineup. Sad, really, as if he was given real time on the Koivu line, he could have been much more valuable.
At his price tag, I don't see Fletcher re-signing him for next year. His trade value is not what it was when the Wild traded for him either. Could be time to cut their losses and get a pick back.
Value: Third round pick, maybe a second round if the team has injury issues.
Prediction: Not traded.
|2010 - John Madden||47||7||8||15||-8||6||1||0||2||64|
A surprise signing in the offseason, Wild fans were excited to see Madden come on board. He has been solid, and mostly what is expected of him. HIs game is not what it used to be, but he still has 7 goals, and has been excellent on the PK. Brought in for only a contract, Madden may be at the end of his swan song. There could be some value for him, but it would be an insult to him to trade him for a late round pick.
Now, if the Flyers were to call, maybe Fletcher does Madden the honor of giving him the choice, much like he did with Owen Nolan last year. A contender calls with the right offer, Madden could be packing up. No reason for a guy like him to grind out a season and not have a chance for a Cup.
Value: 4th round pick, 3rd in the right situation.
Prediction: Not traded.
|2010 - Jose Theodore||18||1036||8||7||46||2.66||531||485||.913||1|
Here is an interesting case study. No one signed him this offseason, leaving him there for the Wild to pluck at the last minute. He has been a steady back-up, and has provided the challenge Niklas Backstrom needed. Anton Khudobin showed he can play in the NHL, yet again, and the Wild could certainly call him up for the stretch.
Theo will be a standings issue. The Wild have shown no faith in Borat, despite little justification for that lack of faith. If they feel they can make the playoffs, or possibly make a small run, they aren't going to dump Theodore. I imagine the thinking would be, "What happens if we make the playoffs, and Backs gets hurt?" You are now back to a lack of faith in Anton, and Theodore on the bench.
This is too bad, because I bet the Wild could get a nice return for him on the market.
Value: Second round pick
Prediction: Not traded
|2010 - Nick Schultz||46||3||10||13||1||30||0||0||0||27|
Schultz is what he is, in the immortal words of Brian Rolston. A stay at home d-man, a shut down d-man, a match-up d-man. The Wild have him signed long term, at $3.5 million. Some consider that a huge figure. Looking at the comparables, Schultz is now trending toward being a good deal for the type of player he is. A top pairing, shut down guy? Seems about right at $3.5 million. I am in the minority on that, just FYI.
Trading a contract with three years left on it is not typically done at the deadline. Nothing is impossible, but it seems unlikely. To trade Schultz, it could get complicated with NHL contracts going both ways, picks involved, prospects... all a bit complicated for the fast paced deadline day. Unless something is already in the works, I don't see it happening.
Value: Significantly lower at the deadline than other times of the year. Depends on the team, and what the purpose of the trade is. Schultz is an established NHLer, and would command a nice pick, prospect, or even a solid forward.
Prediction: Not traded
|2010 - Greg Zanon||49||0||3||3||4||28||0||0||0||29|
Would be interesting to see who would be in on Zuperman. Blocked shot extraordinaire, one of the better defensive d-men on the roster, but does he fit somewhere else? Does another team see giving up a piece of the future for Greg Zanon? If they do, it will be a minor part, and a long shot for the Wild.
Another guy with a year left on his contract, not usually a deadline deal.
Value: 4th round pick
Prediction: Not traded
|2010 - Brent Burns||47||14||17||31||-3||62||6||0||3||84|
Included here because people keep bringing him up. His value has never been higher, and this would be a sell high situation. With another year on his contract, it could work in favor of the Wild. After July 1st, his new team would have exclusive rights to extend his deal. Could he be part of a deal for a scoring winger? Are the Wild ready to trade away the best d-man they have ever had, or may ever see for a long while?
My gut says Fletcher locks him up long term. He is part of the core of this team, and if the Wild want to win, they need an elite defenseman with shut down abilities and scoring. They have him, why give him up? There are very few players, prospects, or picks that would lure me away from Burns. Now... if someone calls with multiple high picks, or an elite goal scorer... I would listen.
Value: Multiple firsts, elite prospect, top flight goal scorer.
Prediction: Not trade, locked up in the summer with fans across the league having heart attacks.
The Wild have a glut of defensive prospects. They could easily trade anyone from Marco Scandella to Clayton Stoner without missing a beat. Stoner's one way deal is over at the end of this season, maybe that makes him more tradable. Tyler Cuma, Jared Spurgeon, Nate Prosser, Maxim Noreau... all ready to move up permanently or be traded so they get the chance elsewhere. It is time to use the prospects they have to gain the prospects the need.
Who is NOT Moving?
As research for this post, I jumped into the insanity that is the message board community. The Wild message board, HF boards, other random boards I found. Every trade thread quickly devolves into the participants calling each other idiots, and accusing the others of not knowing anything about hockey.
Future NHL GMs, every one.
Here is what I keep reading that is just NOT going to happen.
Niklas Backstrom has a no trade clause, has no desire to leave Minnesota, and makes $6 million a year with two years remaining on it. What team is ready to package the kind of picks, prospects, and assets it would take to get the elite netminder, plus has the cap space they would need to add him, PLUS is in a situation Backstrom would want to move into?
This is the most ridiculous thing I have read in a long time. Backstrom is the Wild's number one goalie, is a pretty damn good one at that, and was paid accordingly. The NHL then changed gears, went with cheap goalies, and suddenly the Wild are idiots for having signed an elite goalie to a market set deal. Yeah. Right.
Trading Backstrom would be stupid, even if they could. I get the feeling they wouldn't if they could, and since they can't, I don't see why people continue to bring it up.
Martin Havlat also has a NMC. Unless Marty is secretly wanting out of Minnesota, which with his penchant for Twitter, and the agent he has, nothing would be secret for very long, I don't see where this makes sense either. The Wild are continuing to improve, they are continually trying to find the right pieces to make Koivu and Havlat better, and they have a future.
Here again, if everyone is so willing to offload him, why should another team be willing to take him? He is signed for four more years, at the end of which, he will be an absolute steal. Tied for the team lead in goals, leading in points... but hey, just trade him away. That makes perfect sense, right?
Havlat isn't going anywhere, Backstrom isn't going anywhere. The Wild have two stars locked up long term, why would they want to be rid of them? Unless they go into rebuilding mode, which isn't happening, I just don't get where the sense is to do that.
Who is the Most Likely to Go?
Continuing my ability to simply assign ideas to my fellow HW crew members, here is who each of them sees as the most likely to move (according to me).
Nathan: SELL! SELL! They're all going, baby! (stares into camera with googley eyes and whispers) everyone...
JS: Brunette, Mittens, and Theodore. Screw Bryan, he's just wrong.
Elise: Whatever is cool with me. I'm just glad my apartment isn't a brothel.
CT: Bruno, because he brings in a pick. I need more picks to write about, people. Picks, prospects, make it happen.
Monica: Anyway they can trade for Lidstrom? (Editor's note: it really is fun to pick on Monica for her love of the Wings. We mean no real ill will.)
Control the Desire
Every needs to do their best to control their desire to make a trade. It makes no sense, unless it makes sense. The deadline is exciting, it is tailor made to do so. However, everyone needs to keep in mind that the man behind the curtain has never expressed a desire for a fire sale. His eyes are on the playoffs, and any trade you propose needs to have that goal in mind. Dream the dream, but when you return to reality, leave the dream behind.
Deep breaths, yoga, meditation.