The Minnesota Wild are in a weird spot just three weeks before the NHL’s April 12 trade deadline.
A team that was never really supposed to be one of the league’s best, has surprised some, but has mainly stayed the course and will more than likely earn one of the four playoff positions in the West division. With a five-point gap between them and the Los Angeles Kings (as well as a game in hand), Minnesota can sit back and relax until the first round.
But general manager Bill Guerin does not feel the same way after an embarrassing two games against the Colorado Avalanche, where the Wild by an aggregate score of 11-1.
“I’m not messing around,” Guerin said on KFAN this past weekend. “I’m not screwing around. We’re in this business to win. We desperately want to bring a championship to Minnesota, and I’m going to do whatever I have to do in order to do that. I’m not afraid to ruffle some feathers. … I’m not trying to be a bad guy or say things were done here poorly in the past here, but I have a different vision for the team, and I’m going to carry it out.”
He has the experience to certainly ruffle some feathers.
As an assistant during the two most recent Pittsburgh Penguins championships, riding alongside Jim Rutherford as he made win-now trades like they were nothing, Guerin got to experience what making significant changes feels like.
It’s uncertain whether Guerin was referencing the weeks leading up to this season’s trade deadline or more of a long-term picture. If anything, it might mean that he has no preference in keeping players on expiring contracts just to win a couple games in the first round.
He certainly has more of a future-looking mindsight through this weird season, and he will definitely not be buying at the deadline.
“We’re in a great spot,” Guerin said before Saturday’s game against the Avalanche. “We’re a good team. I think we can beat anybody. But I would like us to be in a position at some point in time to be able to compete for Stanley Cups year in and year out. To do that, I don’t feel it would be right to sacrifice the future just for a quick fix right now.
“I would argue most times (rentals don’t work out). If we can do something that will make our team better that doesn’t cost us much, we’ll do it. If it makes us better for the future, we’ll definitely do it. But right now, I believe in this team and I believe in these players.”
Everything is pointing to two options: either the Wild are going to act as sellers at the deadline, gathering picks and low-level prospects for their expiring contracts, or just keep with the status quo and see what they can do.
They rode the shooting percentage wave to Dark Horse Cup Contender to only get embarrassed by one of the league’s true best talents days later. Averaging out everything, it will speak to Guerin’s plans whether or not he decides to sell off some key pieces before April 12.
Maybe he can do both and trade away less important players like Nick Bonino and Marcus Johansson in preparation for some more chances at the draft, but who truly knows?
It’s going to be an interesting few weeks in Minnesota.