A few weeks ago, I promised you that if the Wild continued to win, the number of stories about the team would increase. I also promised that if they fell apart, there would also be stories written. We all know what happened, and the articles and blog posts have started flying.
Trade Brent Burns! Fire Todd Richards! Fire Chuck Fletcher! Hell, while we're at it: Fire Donald Trump! So many people with so many ideas, so few of them of any value.
Yesterday, I asked you to take a step back and reassess. Today, I ask you to step back up and look at the big picture, rather than just the recent destructive, waste of talent, frustrating, depressing streak of "hockey."
Make the jump, and let's look at one of the recent talking points, Brent Burns.
Brent Burns is a Terrible Hockey Player
Two months ago, this guy was a hero. He was playing amazing hockey, he was an All-Star, and we were praising the return of Inglewood Jack. Aside from trying too hard, what has Burns done wrong since then?
Sure, he has been inconsistent. He is, in hockey cliche, gripping the stick a bit too tight lately. What I see is a leader trying to lead, and team around him unwilling or unable to follow. He wants to win, and he is showing it, which is more than can be said for many members of the squad right now.
Is he pinching? Yep. Any more than he was before? Not that I can tell. What I do see is that when Burns pinches, the forwards are not covering like they were earlier in the year. One does not work without the other. I agree he is erratic, and probably needs to simplify a bit, but not for the same reasons as everyone else.
Popular opinion says Burns needs to simplify because he is playing "the worst hockey of his career." I think he needs to simplify because the guys around him can't keep up. By the way... worst hockey of his career? Really? Were you not here last year? Or the year the morons in charge tried to make him a forward? Yikes.
The guy has had a few bad games. Criticize him for that, absolutely. Call him out for collapsing at the wrong time of the year, in the wrong situation. At the same time, you may want to ask yourself how well you perform at your job when you are under a huge amount of stress and pressure, and everyone in the office is counting on you to make it work.
Are you maybe going to try to do more than you should? Is it going to affect your work? If not, remind me never to hire you.
Trade Brent Burns
First, you don't trade guy when he is playing poorly. You trade them when they are playing well. That's how you get a good return. People who want to trade him and then blast him for his play are the same people who don't understand why their 401(k) lost 12% last year after they sold everything that was losing money.
Now, should the Wild trade Brent Burns? If they can get a goal scoring, young forward (Zach Parise), sure they should. Does anyone really think Burns nets Parise? I don't.
If The Devils trade him, they want picks, and lots of them. Parise is a RFA, meaning if another team wants him, they give up picks. For Parise, likely in the three to four first rounders range. Maybe Burns and a first gets it done to any team other than New Jersey. Right now, the Devils are in cap trouble. They don't need to trade one cap nightmare for another. Burns will get 5-6 million per year where ever he signs. The Devils don't have that.
The other part of this is people claiming the Wild are so full of defensive prospects they can trade Burns without an issue. I ask you this: who replaces Brent Burns in the lineup? Marco Scandella? Nate Prosser? Tyler Cuma? Justin Falk?
The Wild have some very good defensive prospects. Key word there? Prospects. None of them are ready for the amount of minutes or situations Burns is put in on a nightly basis. None of them are proven NHL defensemen. Not one of them has ever been named to the NHL All-Star game.
See where I'm going with this? Brent Burns at 75% is better than the entire defensive prospect stable at 100%. Put together. Yes, really.
Brent Burns is a proven, young, honest-to-goodness stud defenseman. Only goaltending prospects are more of a gamble and take longer to develop. You now have one of the few successful development stories in Wild history, and you want to just trade him away because of one bad stretch of games? I have a GM on the line for you. His name is Brian Burke. He likes people like you.
Would I trade Brent Burns for Zach Parise? Yes, I most certainly would. Do I think that trade makes the Wild instantly into Stanley Cup contenders? Absolutely not.
Trading for Zach Parise (if he is even really available), gives the Wild a sniper. The Wild need someone who will shoot the puck, and someone who can score when they do so. Parise is that guy, and he would be an absolute killer addition to the Wild roster.
Trading Brent Burns immediately makes the Wild not as good as they were. Despite the past month, he is the best defenseman on the team. He is second in the league in goals from a defenseman, tenth in total points. He plays almost 25 minutes a game, three full minutes more than anyone else on the roster. That equates to 200 minutes of TOI more than anyone else on the team. Two hundred minutes in three full games and then some.
Who in the system picks up that baton if you trade him? I'll give you a hint. It starts with "no" and ends with a number.
This section is supposed to be a prediction. So here it is. The Wild aren't going to trade Brent Burns, unless it nets them a major impact player. I have strong doubts Parise is really available, and the Devils can't afford to take on Burns.
So do they trade Brent Burns? All signs point to no.