Every hockey fan loves a good trade. It just makes things so much more interesting for some reason even if it doesn't always work out (see Barker, Cam). The recent injury to PMB coupled with the lingering injury to Latendresse has forced Fletch to openly state he is looking externally for offensive help due to the Wild's lack of internal true offensive depth. Now, before I go any further, I am going to caution you that this will not be a post that will discuss ridiculous trade targets suck as Parise, Getzlaf, Perry, Carter, Ryan, Weber, Suter, etc. Please, if you want to read about those players, give Eklund a buzz. With that said, I am going to do my best to present some possible, more realistic targets and pretend like I know what I'm talking about in analyzing them. Most of these players are secondary options on their present teams, none are really "stars" but a few are paid like them.
One thing that I am having trouble grasping is that Fletch stated he is looking for more longer term options than short-term rentals. I get that he wants to build the team for the future, but if he could do an expiring contract for another expiring contract trade, wouldn't that make a lot of sense especially if he doesn't want to get hamstrung with a bulky contract of an aging veteran down the road even though right now we have a lot of cap space. And away we go:
Left Wing - 6' - 205 lbs
44 gp - 14 g - 9 a - 23 pts - 4 ppp - 96 sog - age 29 (almost) - 3.8 mil cap hit
Ruutu seems like he would be a good fit on the left side of the top line. I confess I haven't seen him place since he was in Chicago but the stats on a bad team seem pretty decent. He has an expiring contract and he's from Finalnd so he can Mikko could call for passes in Finnish and fool everyone! He has some playoff experience as well (that's right, I used the "P" word). From the sounds of it, Carolina is going to be asking a steep price for his services, and I think this ultimately rules out the Wild. They would probably want a top prospect in return and that is not going to happen in any trade. If the Hurriances considered taking Haula and Falk in exchange for Ruutu, I'd listen. Long-term, Ruutu could be resigned for a couple seasons and take the place of Latendresse if the organization isn't going to bring him back.
Kristian Huselius - Columbus BJs
Left Wing - 6' - 184 lbs
2 gp - 0 g- 0 a - 0 pts - 0 ppp - 2 sog - age 33 - 4.75 mil cap hit
Okay, I'll admit, this one is a stretch. Since coming to Columbus, the only thing consistent about Huselius is he gets hurt and misses time, I think we've had some wingers like this before. He probably won't be moved until the deadline anyway because he has pretty much not played at all this year and is hurt right now. That said, he has some offensive skil even though his best years game alongside Jarome Iginla and he has an expiring contract. If memory serves correctly, DR pursued this guy when he left Calgary and was spurned in favor of the BJs, how sad. He could play on the left side of Cullen or Koivu and probably will not cost much to get, low level prospect of pick.
Michael Cammalleri - Montreal Canadiens
Winger - 5'9" - 183 lbs
37 gp - 9 g - 13 a - 22 pts - 6 ppp - 111 sog - age 30 (almost) - 6 mil cap hit through 2014
It would appear that Cammalleri is making himself available due to his low stats, high cap hit, and criticism of the Canadiens. The media there has now painted him as a malcontent for having anything negative to say about the terrible Canadiens. If they want to move him, they will have to lower their expectations on the return. He is a pretty expensive player and has a few more years with that cap hit. He has under performed in the regular season since coming to Montreal. His best season came alongside Iginla. As a free agent, I wanted the Wild to pursue him but knew they had no shot. He is a good skater but very tiny player but shoots the puck quite often. He is money in the playoffs though. This would be a ballsy move to take on that high of a cap hit for a couple more seasons but could be worth while if he produces like he has in the past. He could play wing on either line. He may not be the best fit in a defensive system and there is rumor that he is playing through injury right now too. The return would have to be pretty small, I don't see him being moved to any team unless it is a hockey trade or lower picks/prospects.
Center - 5'11" - 172 lbs
40 gp - 7 g - 13 a - 20 pts - 9 ppp - 66 sog - age 27 - 525k cap hit
Absolutely love this guy. Completely underrated player if you ask me. He's relatively young, cheap, plays great defense, could be a long-term replacement if the organization decides not to re-up Brodziak. Obviously a second line player here, either center or winger and could bump Cullen to wing possibly. I don't think his ceiling is higher than 50 points though. He is available and I don't think he would cost too much, defensive prospect or mid-level pick. Has a nasty shooout move and his name is "Frans," how awesome is that?
Left Wing - 5'10" - 190 lbs
7 gp - 0 g - 2 a - 2 pts - 0 ppp - 14 sog - age 38 - 4 mil cap hit
The clock is winding down on Blake after a long, productive career. The injuries are starting to take their toll as well. That said, he is still a great skater, and has playmaking skills. He would be a nice addition to the second line and maybe can work some Moorhead Magic with Cullen. He has an expiring contract and I think it would be ridiculous if the Ducks asked for anything significant for him. Hard to say if he would stay healthy enough to make an impact. He's from Minnesota though so he is already one of the best players on the team, right?
Left Wing - 6'4" - 224 lbs
35 gp - 8 g - 14 a - 22 pts - 6 ppp - 67 sog - age 32 - 4.5 mil cap hit through 2015
For some reason, Malone probably seems like the best fit. The Wild pursued him a bit after he became a free agent but he went for riches and a NTC in Tampa. He sometimes looks like a spare part on their roster with all the studs they have there. He played college hockey at St. Cloud so there is a slight chance he would waive the NTC to come here for more of a central roll. He's a big body and would look good on Koivu's left side. He has always been a little injury prone but I guess he would just fit right in with this team then huh? This is also a good fit in theory because we have what Tampa needs, defense and goaltending. A package of Harding and Zanon/Lundin looks good to us but it may need a Haula or low pick included to sweeten the pot. He is expensive for the next few years but we are going to need some vets around for the kids to learn from too. The overall points ceiling is nothing great, but he could pot us a few more goals, that's for sure. He already plays in a defensive system and I don't think I've ever heard him called lazy. He's a proven playoff performer too. This one has a shot.
Teddy Purcell - Tampa Bay Lightning
Right Wing - 6'3" - 202 lbs
40 gp - 7 g - 14 a - 21 pts - 4 ppp - 57 sog - age 26 - 2.632 mil cap hit through 2013
Very similar player to Malone, was a stud at Maine. He's younger, seems to have found his offensive game after bouncing around from a few teams. He has a year left on his reasonable contract so that would play into the building for the future criteria. Not sure if he is a first or second liner with this team. He would probably cost as much as Malone as well. I like this guy but I am not sure if the ceiling is high enough even though he is still a little young. Has a big body but I would like to see more goals, I guess Tampa has Stamkos for that though.
Left Wing- 6'4" 245 lbs (that's being generous)
31 gp - 2 g - 7 a - 9 pts - 1 ppp - 56 sog - age 29 - 4.25 mil cap hit
His most recent claim to fame is hurting his back while eating delicious pancakes earlier this week. At first glance, it looks like Penner is washed up. He came to camp overweight and Lombardi pretty much said he would be better suited for beer league softball. I think it is clear that it hasn't worked out in LA and the Oilers are probably laughing their butts off about this one. That said, I still think Penner could be a player and he should be cheap no matter how much Lombardi paid for him. Huge body and very hard to move off the puck. He played like a Burke player in Anaheim which led to the offer sheet and the barn fight that could have been. This guy is a pure rental though, no chance he resigns as he only has eyes for California teams it sounds. He has an expiring contract and has put up decent numbers in the past. Not sure if he would fit in the defenisve system as that seems to be one of the problems in LA right now but he could certainly take the place of the big-bodied left wing on the top line. If he is dirt cheap, I'd take a flier.
Last but certainly not least and not likely at all:
Left Wing - 6'1" - 210 lbs
43 gp - 9 g - 7 a - 16 pts - 6 ppp - 50 sog - age 38 - 2 mil cap hit
Ah Bruno, I miss you. True you lost a step last year and the team moved in favor of speed this off-season, but I would probably welcome you back with open arms. I think the Wild miss him behind the net dishing to his teammates more than we would like to think. I think we miss his ability to keep the play alive in the offensive zone down low and keep the cycle going. I know we miss his net presence and greasy goals and probably leadership too. I don't really think he has found a home with the Hawks but he wanted a shot to win a cup and will have a better chance there than here. Plus he loves Coach Q. I miss Bruno. I was sad to see him go, but understood why. But just imagine for one second, Bruno does a ton of work to set up Heatley instead of Mittens, think of all those goals! Bottom line, the Hawks have no reason to trade him and I listed him out of nostalgia.
There are probably a lot more players that I have not thought of that the team could target as well. I tried to look at this as realistically as possible as it gets tiring hearing from the rumor mongers that all star players avaialble that never are. I listed players who will probably be on the move somewhere soon, so why not the Wild. I should also add here that some of these folks had pretty high contracts in the coming seasons which could hinder us in free agency this summer, not something I want to see happen. We'll see if Fletch can make something happen and if it works out. I hope you enjoyed reading if you made it this far!
All numbers taken from capgeek.com or yahoo sports.