With the deadline looming, and fans getting antsy, it is time to begin our discussion of what might happen this year. We'll have further discussion as we get closer, but for now, we address the biggest question.
Are the Wild buyers or sellers.
The belief in the NHL, and surrounding the NHL, is that no team is ever out of the playoff race. Don't tell Columbus, but with the charity point and three point games, there are always a glut of teams just a few points from the playoff race. In the West, four points often separates the number eight team from the number twelve team. This gives teams a false sense of hope, and is the classic catch 22.
If a team is just four points outside the bubble, the GM sells, then the team somehow makes the playoffs and loses in the first round, the GM looks like an idiot. If the team is four points out, the GM buys thinking he will push his team, and the flop, the GM looks like an idiot. The safe bet is always to simply stand pat. And look like an idiot.
It has been a lifetime since the Wild were true buyers or sellers at the deadline. And when they were, they bought... Chris Simon. What happens this year? After the jump.Why the Wild Should Buy
The Wild are buyers for the right player at the right price. The deadline rarely results in that combination, generally resulting in overpayment for an aging player with no hope of helping anyone. Demands for players like Tuomo Ruutu should be enough for fans to accept this is not a buyer's market.
That said, if a Rick Nash or Bobby Ryan might be available for a couple of the guys not name Mikael Granlund, Chuck Fletcher has to at least entertain the idea. There are strong doubts about the viability of those options, yet if they exist, there is reason to buy. If they aren't, it would be tough to convince anyone that giving up prospects or picks for an expiring contract is worth it.
Buying would appease the fans calling for a move. It also sends a message to the team that Fletcher wants to help them. The problem is, they haven't given him any reason to help them. If it's me, I don't risk my career to help this group. Not a chance in hell I give up the hard work I have done to secure the future in order to add to a group that has shown the backbone of a crawfish.
If it is about shutting people up, then we have crossed a bridge we can't go back over.
Why the Wild Should Sell
The reasons here are more difficult to justify. The fact of the matter is, reality says they should sell. Even if they make the playoffs, they have a snow ball's chance in hell of being a true contender. To follow the thinking of Brian Burke, they aren't paid to make the first round and lose. If they aren't serious about the playoffs, they need to reassess and look to the future.
The prospect pool has grown, but it is not full by any means. You can see what happens when a prospect pool is non-existent, and what happens when it thin. More picks are needed to fill in behind the current crop. Trading picks for players who won't be around is ludicrous. Rick Nash isn't coming here. Bobby Ryan is too expensive.
It is time for the Wild to be real about the situation and consider selling for prospects or picks. Even if first or second round picks aren't available (they are always available at the deadline), loading up on mid round picks can be packaged to move up.
It may be painful, but the smart move is to sell, and sell hard. The players have to accept the situation they have created. They are not going to win the Cup, and the Playoffs are a pipe dream at this point. Retaining the current crew is not going to get them anywhere, and clogs the pipeline for the players turning pro.
It's time to sell in St. Paul. If that angers you, make a note to never, ever apply for an NHL GM job.