The Minnesota Wild are going to have an extremely interesting trade deadline and their recent losing skid only makes it more so. But could they be possibly moving on from a forward prospect that wants to test the free agency waters?
As reported by Sportsnet’s Jeff Marek on Saturday, 22-year-old Jack McBain is looking to see what is out there as his rights are set to expire this summer. Drafted by the Wild 63rd-overall in the 2018 NHL Draft, McBain has been lighting it up ever since for Boston College, and most recently, has 18 goals in just 22 games this season. The forward also recently represented Canada at the Olympics, so his name is regarded highly enough to get attention around the international hockey world.
The Wild will have 30 days after McBain’s season ends to sign the player, and if they don’t, there is surely going to be loads of suitors to try and secure the 6-foot-3 center’s services.
So what are the Wild’s options when it comes to McBain? Well, there are essentially three:
Sign him. Obviously the most straight-forward option, the Wild can just simply get him to sign on the dotted line and join either the NHL or AHL squad immediately, as Matt Boldy did last year in Iowa. At 22 years of age, McBain will be signing just a two-year entry-level deal and it will start right away, meaning that he is going to need a new contract before the 2023-24 season. And that might be why the Wild explore the second option.
Trade his rights. The Wild have one of the deepest prospect pools in the entire NHL, so parting ways with someone that could potentially be lost for nothing in a few months, in return for just something to add to this team that is eyeing at least one playoff series win, could be the route they go. There are certainly past examples of this happening — Adam Fox’s rights traded from the Carolina Hurricanes to the New York Rangers for two second-rounders, Zach Hyman’s rights trading to the Toronto Maple Leafs from the Florida Panthers — so teams certainly look to get extra time and no competition to sign the college free agent. I guess it all depends on the return, but considering this team is in an oncoming cap crunch, having at least one cheap year of a potential scoring contributor (an area they need more of) could work out in the Wild’s favor, no matter the future contract concerns. Hell, maybe he can help the team this year.
Let him walk. This would just be a failure and would only happen if the Wild aren’t in communication with the player, or believe he will be signing in the future before the trade deadline, and then the rug pulled out from under them. Minnesota could trade his rights after the season (the Adam Fox trade was on April 30) but that is a little risky. McBain is good enough to think more about.
Honestly, getting a scoring center is something that the Wild have been eyeing to do for so damn long, and one that you drafted is now available. He might not make an immediate impact, but McBain has been lighting up teams like it is nothing this season, why couldn’t he do that with better teammates and NHL coaching?
Just come to Minnesota, Jack.