It has been made quite clear for awhile that GM Chuck Fletcher would be fully comfortable making a push for the playoffs with the Wild's current players. However, with his captain sidelined, it would seem his unwillingness to sacrifice a part of the organization's future has loosened up.
Now, which prospects do the Wild have that might act as trade bait?
Very much like the Wild's professional roster, the Wild's prospect depth chart have similar weaknesses in offense, while boasting a solid defensive core and talented goaltenders.
However, in the 2010 NHL Entry Draft, the Wild made sure they drafted several skilled forwards, such as Mikael Granlund and Jason Zucker. It is rather doubtful Fletcher would trade any one of these forwards seeing how they are all having tremendous post-draft seasons, four of them being ranked in the top 15 in the Hockey Wilderness Prospect Rankings (see HW's most recent rankings here)
Seeing how the Wild have a deep defensive pipeline, as well as being blessed with several talented goaltenders,we'll take a look at a few prospects that could potentially bring in a NHLer during trade deadline.
As a side-note, Professor Lyons, I want my A...
|2010 - Minnesota Wild||16||0||2||2||-5||0||0||0||0||0||11|
defensive defenseman ... big, strong d-man ... strong skater ... very mobile for his size ... possesses a big shot ... plays physical ... responsible in both ends ... has put up points in juniors ... long wingspan ... plays a simple game ... silver medal WJC Canada team (2010) ... needs to move the puck quicker ...
Scandella has been very impressive with the Wild. Poised and physical, he has the makings of a very solid top-four defenseman. And although the Wild desperately need help at front, they probably rather keep with what they have rather than sacrificing Scandella. The only reason I had put in the effort in mentioning Scandella is because he has the most trade value out of a deep group of solid defensive prospects including Jared Spurgeon, Clayton Stoner and Justin Falk.
As mentioned above, the Wild has had a surge of successes with their defensive prospects, many of them proving to be able to play at the pro level. Jared Spurgeon, Justin Falk and Clayton Stoner, all have played with poise and confidence, playing smart and safe games. Houston Aeros defensemen Nate Prosser and Maxim Noreau, are also having good seasons. Any one of these players could possibly be included in a trade, and while it would be sad to any of them go, the Wild can afford the loss.
|2010 - Houston Aeros||29||1640||13||11||65||2.38||761||696||.915||1|
very athletic ... possesses good size ... covers angles well ... good glove ... very poised ... good positioning ... needs to be more aggressive ...
Next season, the Wild will have Niklas Backstrom, Matt Hackett, Darcy Kuemper and Dennis Endras under contract. But what about Anton Khudobin, who has done nothing but put up wonderful statistics for the Wild. And what about Jose Theodore and Josh Harding?
The Wild have a logjam of goaltenders, so it would only make sense that they would be willing to part with one of them in order to fill up holes in other areas, such as forwards.
Hackett has been having a good rookie season with the Aeros. When Anton Khudobin was called up to the Wild, Hackett stepped up in assume the starting goaltender role, posting a .930 save percentage in those 7 games. But while he would demand a fine price, like Scandella, I have a hard time imagining Fletcher trading such an important piece of the future for some rental.
However, with Endras coming to North America next season, as well as Hackett playing another year with the Aeros (who knows where Dimples might be...), it allows the Wild to trade Darcy Kuemper, who has been having a terrific season in the WHL. He is the leader in every major goaltending categories (1.91 GAA, 0.931 save percentage, 39 wins, 11 shutouts). And while personally, I would love to see a Hackett-Kuemper duo in Houston, if the Wild realistically want to attract some talent through trades, they have to give to get.
|2010 - Minnesota Wild||8||0||0||0||0||2||0||0||0||3|
Great conditioning ... impressive hockey sense ... possessing above average speed ... very versatile, able to play center or wing ... very hard-working ... underrated offensive skills ... plays a responsible two-way game ... first player in Kelowna Rocket history to lead the team in scoring as a seventeen year old ... won the Rocket's top scorer award (2007), most improved award (2007), scholastic player of the year award (2007), and the unsung hero award (2009) ... needs to work on consistency ... questions about his offensive upside.
Cody Almond has always been an interesting prospect for Wild fans. Due to his extreme versatility, no one was extremely sure what he would develop into. However, lately it seems he has made an emphasis on becoming a two-way player that could possibly develop into a smart, safe third line player.
There is hope that Almond would be able to pick up his game with the absence of the Wild's centermen, but losing Almond for a proven NHLer would be a fair price.
The Wild do not have much top six forward talent present in the Houston Aeros. However, they do possess a gluttony of players that can develop into solid third-liners. Like Almond, prospects Colton Gillies and Casey Wellman are good but not key pieces much like Mikael Granlund and Marco Scandella are.
After much talk about the Wild keeping their future intact, reality comes back and hits the team hard with injuries to the captain Mikko Koivu, as well as Kyle Brodziak. In a race for the playoffs, every point is valuable and already suffering from offensive droughts, having its top player injured doesn't help.
Trade deadline is approaching, so the Wild will have a few days to apply bandages through trades. But seemingly comfortable with its pro roster, the team will have to then trade away a part of their future.
Rumors of interest in Dustin Penner means the Wild would have to sacrifice good prospects. Marco Scandella and Matt Hackett represent the best of a deep group of defensemen and goaltenders.
But as long as the cost balances out the gain, I'll be satisfied (we do NOT want Chris Simon...).