Full Deadline Coverage
Full Deadline Coverage
Today's the day- Trade Deadline Day!
Already, you've seen Roberto Luongo, Ryan Miller, Steve Ott, Dustin Penner, Viktor Fasth, and Martin Erat traded. Big names like Thomas Vanek, Martin St. Louis, Ryan Callahan, and Ryan Kesler, are still possibilities to be traded.
And in the midst of all this hustle and bustle, the Minnesota Wild have only made one minor move, acquiring Ilya Bryzgalov from the Edmonton Oilers. Yet, the Wild have enough cap space to take on 3 million dollars in salary, which will accommodate the cap hit of virtually any player in the league.
So, the question in Minnesota is will the Wild be able to make a big splash on deadline day?
With their big trade last year for Jason Pominville, the Wild added a two-way forward to their Top-6. One that allowed the Wild to (when Pominville didn't have Dustin Brown's elbow rammed into his brain) have the depth to feature two scoring lines, and added more leadership to a team that already had two Captains in Mikko Koivu and Zach Parise.
But it's not as if the Wild are a finished product by any means. They are a goalie injury away from being a hot mess in the crease. They're 22nd in the league in goals, despite having Parise, Pominville, Koivu, and Mikael Granlund in their Top-6. They have no Top-4-caliber defensemen to step in if Ryan Suter, Jonas Brodin, Jared Spurgeon, or Marco Scandella go down.
So why aren't the Wild likely to make a big deadline splash?
Wild Don't Want Rentals
What the Wild have maintained from the start of the season is that they're not looking for people who can only help for this season. In fact, they had this mindset last season, as well, and they made sure that the player they traded for (Pominville) was one with some term left on his deal. And they re-signed Pominville, to boot.
The Wild could have used Ryan Miller. They could use Thomas Vanek, or Ryan Callahan,or Jaroslav Halak. But the Wild aren't going to want to only add them for 20 games.
The Wild can't get into specifics, but there is no doubt that they will be look into the future with these players. The Wild may well want Thomas Vanek to boost their goal scoring- the rumor mill certainly thinks that- but instead of trading assets for 20 games of Vanek, it appears they would be content to wait to sign him (or a similar rental player) in Free Agency.
Especially since signing a rental player to an extension a mere 20 games from hitting the open market is a herculean task.
Wild Will Be Conservative With Assets
The Wild's trade for Jason Pominville saw them part with many young assets from a system loaded with them. They traded Johan Larsson, who was a Top-10 prospect in even the best systems, Matthew Hackett, who was seen as neck-and-neck with Darcy Kuemper as the best goalie in the Wild system. In addition to those two players, they gave up a first-round pick (in what was a deep draft) last year, and a second rounder this season.
The Wild have most of their top young assets in the NHL, with Granlund, Brodin, Charlie Coyle, and Nino Niederreiter all with big NHL roles. Those players would be extremely difficult to part with. That means the closest high-end prospects to the NHL are Jason Zucker and Mathew Dumba. Zucker might be a guy the Wild brass would trade, but Dumba is the best of the Wild's defensive prospects. The Wild will likely want to see more development from older (like Zack Phillips, Brett Bulmer) and younger (Mario Lucia, Gustav Olofsson) prospects alike.
As for draft picks? Chuck Fletcher has gone on record saying that he doesn't want to trade a 1st Round Pick two years in a row. The Wild also have a 2nd round pick to part with, as well, which they would probably be more willing to give up.
But giving up, say, Jason Zucker, Zack Phillips, a 2014 1st, and 2015 2nd would be a price I do not believe the Wild will be willing to give up today.
Their Biggest Need (Goalie Help) Was Cheaply Available
The #1 priority for the Minnesota Wild to upgrade at the deadline was goaltending. They are confident in Darcy Kuemper starting for them, but behind Kuemper was a load of question marks. Josh Harding is not expected to come back from battling complications with his Multiple Sclerosis medication, and Niklas Backstrom has been hurt and ineffective, and will be shut down for the rest of the season. In the minors, Johan Gustavsson is there, but he is inexperienced, which made him an unattractive backup to the inexperienced Kuemper.
This is why, despite Kuemper taking over the net with authority, the Wild had been linked to Buffalo and New Jersey to acquire Halak and Brodeur, respectively.
However, making a trade for these players was not necessary. Ilya Bryzgalov, a goaltender who has struggled the last few seasons, but has experience and some good years under his belt, was acquired from Edmonton for only a fourth-round pick. It made no sense to trade a high pick to land Halak with an option like that on the table. And if the Wild really wanted to take another step to insure the net, they could pick up Devan Dubnyk, who Nashville waived, and can be had for nothing. And if none of those options worked out yesterday, Anaheim's backup Viktor Fasth was available for two mid-round picks.
The Wild do have some areas of improvement that it would be worthwhile looking into today, as the Trade Deadline quickly approaches. However, when you look at what's available, and what the Wild should be and are willing to give up, it seems more reasonable to think that the Wild will not be making a big splash at the Deadline this season.