We're past the halfway point of the season (barely) and the trade rumors are a-flying. Ryan Johansen 's trip to Nashville in return for Seth Jones seems to have opened the floodgates of rumor. The newest player on the block is Jonathan Drouin, and the Wild are apparently interested, with Dumba being the player on the block.
Drouin is a promising talent, and has shown a lot of ability. He is anything but a proven player, however; a trade for the Bolt would be a move to strengthen the team not now, but in the future. Unfortunately, the Wild's best players are aging and declining. If the Wild are going to make a trade, it needs to be a player to help them win now, and they are not doing that with a trade for Drouin.
Firstly, there is the problem of position. The Wild are notoriously short on talent at center. Obviously, trading for a talented center will be tricky at best, but that is no reason to trade for a promising winger who has played some center. The plan, presumably, would be to have Coyle continue playing as a center, which is a good plan; Coyle has been effective at the pivot this season. The Wild have also experimented lately with moving Granlund to the wing in an effort to help him find his game, which is ironic as the consensus has been that he's played better of late.
Worse, the Wild are apparently willing to move Dumba; a player with immense potential and possibly the one hope for the power play. If Dumba leaves, the Wild will be forced to either play Nate Prosser; a sub-par defensemen at best, Gustav Olofsson; who is as unproven as a player can get, or Christian Folin; who has shown flashes of quality but is still not ready for a large NHL role. Dumba, meanwhile, is projecting to be one of the better offensive defensemen in the league, particularly if he starts getting the PP time he deserves. Dumba definitely has a future in the NHL and will be a solid player for the Wild.
In other words: The Wild would have to actively make their team worse in order to gain a player who is unproven. This is not to say Drouin's numbers are unimpressive; he attained a 1.8 points-per-60 last season at 5v5, and is sitting at 1.6 this season. At first glance, that's very promising, particularly considering that he only had one 5v5 goal last season. Indeed, his on-ice sh% was not abnormally high either at 7.4%. Drouin's GF% was an even 50%. In other words, his opponents scored as many goals against Drouin as the Lightning scored while he was on the ice.
This season looks to have improved, with Drouin and his line mates now scoring more than their opponent. Drouin, however, is riding a high sh% of 12%, which will regress down in all likelihood. It's true that Drouin's sh% has been high in juniors, but shooting percentages tend to be high in the QMJHL, as the focus is all on offense and defensive numbers are underwhelming.
In short, Drouin is looking like a player who can certainly score, but who's defensive work leaves much to be desired. The Wild already have a defensively questionable player in Thomas Vanek; do we really want to add another who may not become the consistent point producer that Thomas Vanek is? There is more risk in adding Drouin than many believe; he may turn out to be a brilliant player, or he may fizzle completely when asked to defend.
A Cure for What Ails
The real root of the Wild's recent struggles is not a lack of talent; it may be poor coaching or motivation, but talent is not the issue.Whether Yeo is the problem, or some unforeseen locker-room-chemistry issue, the Wild have slumped every season around December and/or January. Drouin's talent- promising as it is- is not going to stop that from happening.
It's true, there has usually been some trade that has given the Wild a shot in the arm to turn them around, and perhaps Fletcher is hoping Drouin could be that. JD is by no means a bad player, and he has a very high ceiling- a trade for Drouin is not necessarily a bad idea. At the same time, hoping that trading for a young, promising winger-cum-center will turn the year around seems like wishful thinking at best.
None of this is to say that Drouin would not be a worthwhile addition to the team; he is a promising young player. At the same time, the idea that the Wild's problem is a lack of talent is preposterous (at least when Yeo doesn't sit a promising or capable player for a pilon *side-eyes Stoll*).
A trade for Drouin could be a good move for the Wild. Let's not pretend it is a panacea for the team, though. The deal may be survivable, but the cost is being underestimated by many in terms of it's affect on the Wild.