The Minnesota Wild are struggling in the thick of the season as we near the Mar. 3 trade deadline. They currently hold a tenuous grip on third place in the Central Division, but with five losses in the last seven games, their playoff chances are sliding away faster than a loose toboggan down an icy hill. They begin a seven-game homestand tonight against the Vegas Golden Knights and have no option but to start piling on some wins if they want to keep their playoff chances alive.
While the trade deadline may be fast approaching, the recently worryingly bad play from the Wild has opened the possibility of a move happening sooner than later. Luckily they have no shortage of picks, prospects, and players that could be traded.
Let’s take a look at five of their top trade assets that could potentially be moved.
Number 5: Bottom 6 Forward
When it comes down to it, the Wild have three solid wingers in Kirill Kaprizov, Mats Zuccarello, and Matt Boldy. Past that trio is a strange assortment of wingers and centers that are mostly struggling to find their place in the roster. Everyone is aware that impending unrestricted free agent (UFA) Freddy Gaudreau is going nowhere, but Sam Steel, Connor Dewar, Brandon Duhaime, and Mason Shaw are all players that could be sent to a team looking for some depth in their bottom six.
The likely scenario that would see one of the aforementioned players leaving would be if the Wild traded for a top-six player and need to send a roster player as part of the return. While it would depend on the other team involved in the trade, my guess is that Dewar’s speed, penalty-killing abilities, and being locked in at $800,000 for next season would make him the one most teams would be interested in. With Sammy Walker and Adam Beckman looking like they are on the edge of breaking into the NHL, there should be no worries about filling that bottom six slot next season.
Number 4: Young Defensive Prospect
It is never possible to have too many defensemen unless you’re the Wild and have a swarm of players making their way towards the NHL over the next couple of seasons. If you consider Jared Spurgeon, Jonas Brodin, and Jacob Middleton as the defensive core, and assume Calen Addison and Jon Merrill are likely going nowhere, that leaves room for two more defensemen on the roster.
With at least seven prospects that look like they have NHL potential within the next two-three seasons, the math says that some of them will have to go. It won’t be Brock Faber or Carson Lambos, but past those two, they should seriously consider moving one of Ryan O’Rourke, Daemon Hunt, or even Jack Peart for the right price.
Number 3: Cap Space
The Minnesota Wild have extra cap space? It’s a hard thought to process given the amount of dead cap they are dealing with from the Zach Parise and Ryan Suter buyouts, but due to the way the salary cap accumulates over the course of the season, the good people at capfriendly.com have the Wild being able to bring in $16.5 million worth of cap hit at the trade deadline. That is a whole lot of space in a league where over half the teams are currently utilizing long-term injured reserve (LTIR) to function.
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Not only does the available space make it easier to make trades and bring players in, but it can also be weaponized and used to help broker trades as a third team. Now, they could only do this with players whose contracts expire this year, but it could be a great way to pick up a few late-round picks to add to an already-stacked prospect pool. Players with massive contracts, like Patrick Kane, Jonathan Toews, or John Klingberg would be candidates for this type of salary retention move.
Number 2: Jordan Greenway
The 2015 second-round pick has developed into a 6-foot-6, 230 lbs monster of a winger that has had flashes where he looks like he could be one of the most dominant power forwards the Wild have ever seen. There are also times when he looks lost, avoids contact, and skates like he has already been defeated. As the cap tightens on them next season, there is just no room on the Wild’s roster for players that are not giving all they have, all of the time.
At 25 years old and making an even $3.0 million a year, there is a chance he could still find his motivation and become a critical piece of an NHL team, but with only six points in 33 games this season, it feels like his time with the Wild is coming to an end. There are plenty of coaches and General Managers in the NHL that covet big bodies and would no doubt love to see if Greenway could thrive under different circumstances.
Number 1: 2024 1st Round Pick
The Wild have the best prospect pool in the entire NHL. Loaded with players in every position at all different stages of their careers, they will have a constant overflow of players fighting for spots on an NHL roster for years to come. They also still have 13 picks in the next two entry drafts, including all seven picks in 2024.
“[The Wild are] the only team in the league with a top prospect at all six positions (G, C, LW, RW, RHD and LHD) and they’re going to be — spoiler alert! — the team with the most prospects in my upcoming top 50 drafted prospects ranking.”
Scott Wheeler (from’ Minnesota Wild are No. 1 in 2023 NHL prospect pool rankings,’ the Athletic, Feb 8, 2023)
While no one likes to give up a first-rounder, the Wild are definitely in a space where they need a big boost if they want to go far into the playoffs, and the easiest way to do that is by dangling a first in front of some other teams that are not in as good of a position with their prospects. While it would be silly to offer up this year’s first-rounder due to the expected depth of the draft, next year’s first should be firmly on the table for the right player.
A List Without Dumba?
There is one player that has been on every trade list for the entire season. There is no chance that Matt Dumba is on the Wild’s roster next season, but I do not think he gets dealt at the deadline. Unless there is a cascade of trades that brings in a better player on the right side, I think the Wild hold onto Dumba until the end of the season and then let him walk into free agency.
They are in a very critical place in their season, and I think there is a strong chance the Wild make a big move either at the deadline or possibly even before. With the right combination of these assets, they have the potential to shake things up and could feasibly offer a competitive package for any player currently on the market. It will undoubtedly be an interesting month for the Wild.