The Minnesota Wild and GM Bill Guerin have already been active ahead of Monday’s trade deadline. Earlier this week they nabbed post-hype young center Tyson Jost in exchange for pending free agent Nico Sturm, securing a little bit more certainty for who will be on the roster going forward. And while the team is just treading around the idea of making the playoffs, they aren’t putting in enough inspiring performances down the stretch that makes us all collectively feel that they are poised to win a round.
Anyways, that’s bigger questions for later. One interesting tidbit and almost a guarantee at this point, is that the signing rights to 22-year-old Boston College center Jack McBain will be traded, and most likely before the deadline. He has informed the Wild front office that he will not be signing with the club, and will therefore (potentially) become an unrestricted free agent on Aug. 15. But before that, Minnesota seek to get something back for drafting him in the third round four years ago, and multiple teams are interested.
As reported by The Athletic’s Michael Russo, the Montreal Canadiens, Winnipeg Jets, and Arizona Coyotes are the most interested teams, as the quasi rebuilding organizations seek to nab up a 6-foot-3 center that has scored 19 goals in 24 games this year. And even if it is his senior year — a time where stats can get padded and prospects overhyped — that is a fairly good bet to at least become a solid depth center in the NHL.
The Wild have asked team to give up at least a second-round pick in return for McBain’s rights, as to make up for their third-rounder they used back in 2018 on the center, and then some. And that should be enough for all three of those teams to fork up the return — even if TSN’s Darren Dreger recently hypothesized that the price might even be higher now. The Coyotes have five second-rounders this year, the Canadiens have just theirs but also have three third-round picks as well, and the Jets don’t have their second this year or next, but also could provide an interesting enough package for Minnesota.
While Arizona and Montreal are easy “we’re rebuilding/retooling” and getting a young center should be a priority, the Jets are trying to bolster their current roster to make the playoffs with the talent they currently have. McBain certainly supplements it, so would it be appropriate to ask for a prospect in return — say last year’s second-round pick, winger Nikita Chibrikov? That would be some trade for the Wild, so it’s probably not realistic.
Would simple draft picks be enough to satisfy the hunger we crave to improve this roster? Meh, not really. They have a very, very good prospect pool currently and simply adding more to it, just doesn’t have the same feel as taking advantage of some poor team that desperately wants McBain. We here at Hockey Wilderness have already hypothesized/dreamt about the Chicago Blackhawks being interested enough to part ways with pending restricted free agent Dylan Strome in such a deal, and that would be the type of move that helps the short and long-term of this team. If it doesn’t work out, you basically paid a third-rounder to try and see if a former third-overall pick could work out as a top center. If it does work out, then ho boy, that’s a steal considering the 25-year-old Strome fits right in with a timeline.
We will have to see where this goes, but we all know that McBain will not be in Minnesota next season and that the Wild will get something back for his rights.