The Minnesota Wild are in tough this year. They have piles of cap space to try and play with, but with the impending cap crunch due to the Ryan Suter and Zach Parise buyouts, they might have just this single year to really utilize it. Does that mean that we will actually see a flurry of moves before the 2:00 p.m. CT deadline today? Maybe, maybe not.
But let’s go over some possibilities, from what the reports are saying.
Trade for Marc-Andre Fleury
This has been a Wild one (sorry). The Chicago Blackhawks have stated all-year-long that they want a return that includes a first-round pick; and Wild GM Bill Guerin has specifically stated that he will not trade their first-rounder for any sort of rental. Now, the goaltending has been kind of spotty throughout the last few months and the addition of a future Hall-of-Fame goaltender in Fleury would be sort of neat — especially considering that there are no impacts on the future since he is a pending unrestricted free agent — but it might cost just too much.
The most recent reports are that Guerin is happy to move the 2022 second-round pick, but Chicago is holding out for a first. We’ll see where this goes.
Assuming Marc-Andre Fleury is willing to go, I believe Billy Guerin gets this done with the #mnwild— Andy Strickland (@andystrickland) March 21, 2022
Trade for a depth defenseman
The blue line was (and has been for a long time) one of the strengths for this Wild team. But as soon as some injuries took place and Jonas Brodin wasn’t looking like a shorter version of prime Nicklas Lidstrom, the cracks began to show and the physical, punishing defenders turned into a little bit of a soft party.
On paper, this is a fantastic group of six defensemen, but to make it into the playoffs and have your presence known, maybe there needs to be a little bit more of willing-to-punch-a-dude-in-the-face.
Nick Leddy and Justin Braun might be two options that are available, but could cost more significant assets than Guerin wants to give up for a bottom pairing. But how about a reunion from Carson Soucy? He has one more year left on his deal and considering that Alex Goligoski is likely out the door, this can be a move that provides the top-four with another left-handed option.
Be a third-party trade broker
Well, if they’re not going to acquire any players with the cap space they have, why not use it to get some extra draft picks? Almost every Stanley Cup contender is completely capped-out, so teams need to involve a third team in some significant trades to take on some salary and then receive some sort of compensation for it.
The Wild have over $10 million in current cap space, according to CapFriendly — so there is certainly room to get involved. And why not if Guerin isn’t going to add to this team?
After Nico Sturm got traded as a pending unrestricted free agent, it slightly opened the doors for other players in the same contractual situation to be moved today. There are really only three options though: Nick Bjugstad, Alex Goligoski, and Jordie Benn.
For Bjugstad, it’s probably the most likely player to be moved, especially since the addition of Nicolas Deslauriers and the impressive performances Connor Dewar has strung together, he just seems like the 14th or 15th option up front now. He’s a very cheap ($900,000) winger that has done a lot in his limited minutes. Might be a solid get to add as a bottom-six offensive player for a contender.
Goligoski is probably not getting moved, but he is on an expiring deal. He has a full No-Move Clause, so he gets to decide any movement, and considering that he is still playing next to Spurgeon for the time being, he’s too important of a player to try and get a third-round pick or something back for. Also, he’s from here so he probably doesn’t want to live in a hotel for the next few months.
And Jordie Benn — signed as a seventh defenseman, Benn has been extremely underwhelming for his on-ice play, but he seems to have a great attitude and is liked by the coaching staff. So...probably not going to be moved for that late-round pick.
Minnesota is in an interesting spot and is still involved in multiple trade rumors, so we’ll just have to wait and see what the next....five hours has in store for us.