A week or so ago, I looked at potential players the Wild could target as trades to improve their roster. Now I want to look at players currently on the roster who could be moved as we near the trade deadline. This may seem like bad timing coming off a nice win against Dallas at home. However, it will take that kind of effort in every game for the Wild to make the playoffs and for every nice win, there is another poor performance against Philly or Toronto lurking around the corner for this team. This isn't to say they won't make the playoffs, but it is going to be hard and there will no breaks along the way. So, if they are still at the outside looking in by the time the deadline rolls around, here are some players the Wild could/should sell. Disclaimer: this post will not discuss trading players we want to get rid of such as Zidlicky. While dealing Zidlicky is every fan's wish, it will take a lot of stars aligning to get it done in-season, off-season, much more likely. Instead, let's look at the more probably candidates for trading, pending unrestricted free agents and some restricted free agents. And away we go!
Greg Zanon - Defense
5'11" - 198 lbs - age 31 - shoots left - 1.933 mil cap hit
25 gp - 1 g - 3 a - 4 pts - 0 ppp - 15 sog - minus 1 - 8 PIM - 71 blocks
Zanon is what he is, a defensive-defenseman. There is almost zero offense here and teams thinking there will be are kidding themselves. He is a decent skater, can log some minutes, and is a shot blocking machine. However, there are some issues here. First, he seems to be the square peg in the round hole this year. For a system that preaches defense first, Zanon just doesn't fit. Oftentimes his defense involves laying out for a block, but that also means taking yourself out of the play. Zanon was guilty of taking himself out of the play by doing this a large amount of the time last year. This year he has been better, but maybe that is because he has played less. Add to that, he is a bit of sulker when things do not go right. There is no doubt, this effects the locker room. As one of the old guard who has been here for a few coaches and has seen his fair share of losing, he probably needs to go for his own sake as well as ours. The expected return won't be very high, probably a mid-level pick. There are some teams out there who might be willing to pay as high as a second, but that is a stretch. Chicago, Philly, Toronto, San Jose all bleed goals so we will see if Zanon can help them or someone else out. He's an affordable rental is nothing else.
Mike Lundin - Defense
6'2" - 191 lbs - age 27 - shoots left - 1 mil cap hit
15 gp - 0 g - 2 a - 2 pts - 0 ppp - 7 sog - even - 2 PIM - 34 blocks
Does anyone know why we signed this guy? Honestly, he seems like a nice guy and maybe would be a good seventh defenseman, but I am not sure where he fits or what his style even is. It's hard to call him a defensive-defenseman but he certainly isn't offensive either. He is a good skater, but I find myself asking, what is his upside. When he is scratched, the fans clamor for him to be in the lineup. So then he plays, and he's neither bad or good, he's just there. He's like Nick Schultz without the defense or positioning.To me he's pretty vanilla on a team that need's him to be either rocky road or butter pecan. He's obviously not in the long-term plans so moving him would be best. I'm sure someone would take him but the return is going to be minimal. If Brett Lebda can still play in the NHL, certainly so can Mike Lundin. Unfortunately, he just doesn't have a high ceiling despite still being pretty young. Again, an affordable rental, but not sure what his role would be other than depth for the playoffs.
Clayton Stoner - Defense
6'3" - 206 lbs - age 26 - shoots left - 550k cap hit
36 gp - 0 g - 3 a - 3 pts - 0 ppp - 27 sog - plus 7 (!) - 42 PIM - 59 blocks
Would you have believed that Stoner is leading the defenseman in plus/minus? Would you believe that he is actually second on the team in that category? Pretty much proves it's a meaningless stat huh? Stoner is unique in that he is still on a two-way contract. Remember when Fletch signed him to that bizarre two year deal where the first year was one-way and the second was two-way? Stoner actually gives the Wild an element they seem to lack at times, sandpaper, willingness to drop the gloves, stand-up for teammates, etc. Beyond that? He doesn't bring much. His skating is okay I guess, better than me anyway. I think he has reached his ceiling as well. That said, he is a nice sixth or seventh defenseman. I don't know if they would get much of anything in return for him so I would be okay with resigning him at around his current salary. Oh, he does know how to absolutely annihilate David Backes and has an awesome name so those should count for something too.
Justin Falk - Defense
6'5" - 217 lbs - age 23 - shoots left - 742k cap hit
28 gp - 0 g - 4 a - 4 pts - 0 ppp - 28 sog - plus 2 - 28 PIM - 50 blocks
Fans seem to get down on Falk a little bit but that may be because they still think he is Justin Faulk. I too find myself wanting more from Falk at times but then I remember, he is only 23. I'm not sure if there is much of an offensive upside but he at least seems to have some offensive awareness. What he is truly blessed with is size, and he has been using that to his advantage as of late and needs to keep it up to stay in the NHL. What's more is he knows this himself. He has the making of a good third pairing with Prosser if he continues to work. I don't think he gets much in the form of a return, so we might as well remember he is just 23, still raw, and worth keeping and working on.
Nate Prosser - Defense
6'2" - 221 lbs - age 25 - shoots right - 715k cap hit
19 gp - 0 g - 6 a - 6 pts - 1 ppp - 15 sog - plus 1 - 18 PIM - 48 blocks
I'm including Prosser on here even though I doubt the organization has any desire to trade him. Good skater, good puck mover, I think there is a little more offense than what we've seen, something more along the lines of his 2010-11 AHL stats. He plays a pretty good defensive game as well in the small sample size we've seen. He and Falk will be a nice 5-6 pairing in the next few years. However, if for some reason someone made me an offer of a mid to high pick, I would at least listen.
Casey Wellman - Forward
6'0" - 184 lbs - age 24 - shoots right - 850k cap hit
14 gp - 2 g- 5 a - 7 pts - 1 ppp - 25 sog - minus 4 - 0 PIM - 7 blocks
If there was ever a frustrating player on the Wild's roster, it's Wellman. There just seems to be something off with the kid. He is clearly skilled, great skater, great shot, but for whatever, it does not translate to the NHL. There is something wrong with a player like him skating on the fourth line. I've never seen him practice and have never been in the locker room, but I suspect it starts there. How can a player be called up and look great for the first few games, and then complete disappear? Signed as a free agent from UMass, he was supposed to come in as a mature player ready to contribute. Well, it didn't work out that way and he has needed more time to mature than anticipated. Something to remember about college free agents, for every Matt Read, there are ten Casey Wellmans. Add to that, he is going to get trapped behind our sudden glut at forward in the coming years making it tougher and tougher to make the big club. He could make it easier on himself and dedicate himself to working to earn a spot, but that seems to be the problem. In a lot of ways, Wellman reminds me of Patty O'Sullivan, just not engaged game in game out. To be successful, Wellman needs to go to the net and play with a little more grit. He can do it for a game or two but then seems to decide that isn't his style and just floats around. He's too good for the AHL but doesn't appear to be willing to work to stick in the NHL, at least not with the Wild. Yeo's system is demanding and perhaps Wellman just wants to do his own thing and play his own style. If that is the case, he is in the wrong place. He is a restricted free agent but will command a raise that I don't think the Wild will be willing to pay. He has some trade value, and I think it is something that Fletch should explore. He's still young, is a great skater, and has a great shot. In a less demanding system with a coach who will cater more to him and on a team where he doesn't have to be counted on, he might flourish. Maybe as high as a second round pick but mid-level pick is more likely. Personally, I would like to see him traded for a offensive-defenseman trapped behind a glut of talented guys on another team. Our farm is not well stocked with offense from the blueline right now.
Kyle Brodziak - Forward
6'2" - 209 lbs - age 27 - shoots right - 1.15 mil cap hit
48 gp - 13 g - 11 a - 24 pts - 7 ppp - 98 sog - minus 7 - 43 PIM - 34 blocks
This is definitely not going to be a popular position with the Wilderness, but if the Wild are still out of it by the deadline, I think they should trade Brodziak. Tough, decent offensive skills, good on faceoffs, good skater, perfect third line center for any team. He would easily fetch the biggest return as contending teams love players like Brodziak. I believe it was Russo who stated earlier in the season that Brodziak is the type of player you need in the playoffs. I would love to keep Brodziak as our third line center for years to come but at what cost. He is certainly going to be due a raise at the end of this season. Earlier in the year, it looked like it was going to be a rather hefty raise, but even as the team has slumped, he has not lost much value. The glut of forwards coming in the next few years will be cheaper and projected to be better than him. We are stuck with Cullen and his contract and with Larsson, Coyle and Granlund all turning pro next year, this team's second and third line centers are found in that group. The Wild can save some cash now and reload with a few picks or prospects in return for Brodziak. I think a second rounder with a good prospect is in order here. Maybe you find someone willing to give us a first if you package him with someone else but teams will be knocking on the door for sure if Fletch makes him available. I love him as a player, but he might be able to help the team even more as an asset.
Josh Harding - Goaltender
6'2" - 199 lbs - glove right - 750k cap hit
21 gp - 9 w - 6 l - 3 otl - .925 save % - 2.44 gaa - 1 sho
It's becoming apparent that the ship may have sailed on Harding as far as trade bait. In my opinion, there were only a few teams that ever needed an improvement in goal and neither bit on Hards. I don't fault this so much on Fletch as I do on Yzerman. Yzerman pretty much let his team collapse around the terrible goaltending there instead of addressing that issue earlier in the year. Right now, it will be hard for the Lightning to reach the playoffs and it seems Yzerman has realized that and is just going to address this need in free agency or trades this summer. Maybe Fletch called and was offered little to nothing in return, but at this point, we should collect what we can for Harding. Another team that surprised me in this was Toronto. There is a team that has the offense and defense to make the playoffs, but Burke seems to be okay with his goalies being terrible. Maybe because those goalies are HIS goalies or maybe he doesn't have the best relationship with Fletch even though they've worked together in the past in Anaheim. Burke has openly stated there are some GMs he will not trade with (here's looking at you Kevin Lowe!). Either way, the market for goalies has dried up. There have not been as many injuries to goalies this year and most teams already have a quality backup. Those teams that have the worst goaltending ever (Columbus, Edmonton) can just wait for the off-season to address their needs as their seasons were over about two weeks into the year. Harding is still a quality goalie looking to prove himself as a #1 somewhere in this league. He has a cheap cap hit and a huge injury history. His numbers are good this year (look at that save %!) but lately the trade talk has clearly been affecting his game a bit. He's probably worth a second rounder, but at this point, he should be moved for anything.
If you made it this far, thanks for reading! I do not expect the Wild to make all or any of these moves, it all depends on the situation. However, if it continues to look like we are on the outside looking in, these are moves the organization should consider. Please feel free to list other players I forgot or other scenarios that I didn't mention! Again, thanks for reading!