The Minnesota Wild have been searching for that high of last season for the last few months. It felt like a fever dream — the Wild we know and love were able to score a billion goals while also providing enough defense to win a bunch of games. Except for the small blip of goaltending crisis, this was a team that felt so good to watch and before the playoffs (oof) could have realistically done anything against anyone.
Well, the team is a little bit different this season. After having to get rid of Kevin Fiala for cap-related reasons, the Wild have not been able to consistently score enough goals to win games that they should. In response, GM Bill Guerin has blatantly said out loud that he is looking to acquire a top-six forward before the trade deadline this season.
Maybe it is just coincidence or a big conspiracy that just a week or so after Guerin mentioned it, a winger that has been linked to the Wild basically since he was drafted by the Vancouver Canucks, is made available.
Brock Boeser’s agent has been given the freedom to reach out to teams about a potential trade after the Canucks 2022-23 season is spiraling down the drain and the winger deserves a change of scenery. So, why shouldn’t that be the Minnesota Wild? We have some reasons why it just makes so much damn sense.
He’s from here
It’s the 2015 NHL Entry Draft. The Wild have the 20th overall selection and as they step up to the podium, we all know that a local winger from Burnsville, Minn. is still available for his hometown team to draft. Well, the team then selects now-mainstay center Joel Eriksson Ek instead.
That decision has turned out to be a massive win for the Wild, since without Eriksson Ek, the entire ethos of the current Wild team might not exist. But, now is their opportunity to have their cake and eat it too, to get the Burnsville Boy in Boeser and make everything right in this world.
It is not just the fact that he’s from here, but some personal context is needed. Boeser just went through an incredibly difficult situation with his family, as his father suffered a 12-year battle with Parkinson’s Disease that unfortunately ended earlier this calendar year. Boeser has been open about his family’s struggles as his father has gone through his experience with this difficult disease.
So, not to make it about hockey all the time, but wouldn’t it just make sense for Boeser to want to be closer to his family while also being able to play at a high level? This might be cold-hearted, but wouldn’t you think that Boeser would be playing much better if he was able to see his family, especially after the loss of his father? It feels icky and gross to think about it that way and how many more goals Brock might score with an address in Minnesota compared to British Columbia; but it might just be a factor that the hockey executives will think about.
An adequate replacement for long-term offensive depth
Okay, so let’s talk about Boeser the player.
The 25-year-old winger is a simple sniper that might not help the team defensively, but will surely score a bunch of goals. He is a consistent goal scorer that hasn’t been able to reach the highs of some others, but has not sunk to being able to score nothing — he has never reached the 30-goal milestone, but has four 20-goal seasons despite missing some significant time throughout his career.
Underneath the raw point totals, Boeser has been an adequate play driver. In his last three seasons, he’s averaged an on-ice 5-on-5 shot attempt percentage of 48.85, and an expected goals percentage of 43.93. Certainly not the best numbers (you could say “bad”) but considering he has been playing on a Canucks team that has been dogshit for the entirety of his career, we can give him some wiggle room for those numbers.
Especially considering that those numbers increase by a great deal when he is on a line with actual talented players like Elias Pettersson — 52.38 on-ice shot attempt percentage; 50.82 expected goals percentage, at 5-on-5 — Boeser deserves a little bit more credit for his play-driving abilities than just looking at the overall number.
So, we know that Boeser is a good player and can no doubt help this Wild team score some more goals, but where would he play? Well, the easiest answer is just having him slot in next to Matt Boldy and try to re-create the same magic he had with Fiala last season. Especially, considering Boeser’s contract, that can be a viable and long-term solution to some offensive woes.
Boeser has three years left on his contract (including this season) and a cap hit of $6.65 million. It’s a steep price to suddenly inject into your cap structure, but the Wild can make it work if they move some money and contracts around. If this deal was done closer to the trade deadline, the Wild wouldn’t even need to move anyone off their roster — as of right now, the Wild will have the ability to take on an overall cap hit of $10.41 million at the deadline, since the cap is accrued daily.
If we’ve sold you on the move, well...
What will it take?
Thanks to the lovely folks at The Athletic, we have an idea what a Brock Boeser trade might look like and it is great news.
If there’s a Boeser trade to be found, there’s an understanding internally that the return will be relatively pedestrian. — The Athletic
Relatively pedestrian! It sounds like, no matter what, Canucks fans will be disappointed with the return. That is music to our ears.
So, what can that be? Would it be as simple as giving them one of the defenseman prospects that Minnesota has been stockpiling? The Canucks could certainly use someone like Daemon Hunt as a promising and physical blueliner in their system. But if they want something else, maybe a Western Canadian boy like Matt Dumba makes the most sense.
We all know that Dumba’s time as a member of the Wild is coming to an end, because it just doesn’t make sense roster-wise or cap-wise. He will be an unrestricted free agent this summer, but could ideally extend his contract with the team that eventually acquires him.
Since Dumba’s cap hit is $6 million, this makes complete sense financially for the Wild, and this move could be done almost immediately. The only factor is that Boeser’s contract runs for two more years and that might prevent them going long-term with Boldy, who is up for a new contract after this season. It’s all a giant puzzle that we will have Bill Guerin and his team figure out.
But a straight swap of Dumba-for-Boeser does cover the complete checklist. It is not the eye-widening package for Boeser that Vancouver fans want; it makes financial sense; it could give the Canucks a player they need right now (Ethan Bear might be their best right-handed defenseman); and it shifts the Wild into a new, long-term reign of projected success.
Even if the team does not want to move Dumba in a trade like this, giving up some prospects out of their top-end pipeline still makes sense for a player like Boeser. You know what you’re going to pay him for the next few seasons, and he can provide exactly what the Wild need in a scorer beyond the top line. As an added bonus, we get to see Brock smile way more being close to home. Bill, just make the call already!
Data via Evolving-Hockey.