While the NHL Trade Deadline won’t come until February 27th, trade rumors will be heating up soon as many teams will be looking to add a player that can contribute to the stretch-run. The Wild are currently seventh in the Western Conference playoff picture, but the team’s fall from second place to seventh has many wondering whether the Wild can make the playoffs without addressing some offensive issues.
The trade that sent Brent Burns to the San Jose Sharks left the Minnesota Wild without a legitimate power-play quarterback. Even though various defensemen chipped in during the early stages of the 2011-2012 NHL season to ease the loss of the PP QB, Burns’ loss has been clearly felt for a team that currently ranks 24th on the power-play. On the other hand, consistent scoring has also plagued the Minnesota Wild as the team ranks second to last in terms of goals per game. With the Minnesota Wild trying to secure a playoff spot under rookie head coach Mike Yeo, there are a few spots that the team could improve upon via the trade market, but is it really worth it?
Here’s a look at what the “Buy, Sell, and Idle” options could mean for the Minnesota Wild at this year’s Trade Deadline:
A Buyer’s Market?
1.) Rick Nash - This year’s NHL Trade Deadline could see forward Rick Nash shipped out of Columbus, Ohio. Nash made it clear that he wouldn’t hinder the team if they decided to move him and such a statement immediately conjured up thoughts of the left-winger being traded to a contender. While the Wild traded for offensive stud Dany Heatley in the offseason, the forward hasn’t shown hockey fans that he is capable of reaching the 50-goal plateau in Minnesota. Rick Nash would certainly bolster the Wild’s offense, but the superstar would undoubtedly come with a hefty price tag. With the Wild having an immense amount of talent in their farm system, the Blue Jackets could demand names that Minnesota is not willing to part ways with.
Even the mention of names such as Brodin, Gustafsson, Larsson, and Coyle should be enough for the Wild to stay away from the Rick Nash sweepstakes, but stranger things have happened. It is highly unlikely that owner Craig Leipold and GM Chuck Fletcher will mortgage the future for Nash, especially when they have such an immense amount of talent stockpiled. Verdict – Stay Away
2.) Carlo Colaiacovo - The Minnesota Wild could use some help for their blue-line and the St. Louis Blues have an interesting option. Defenseman Carlo Colaiacovo is currently playing very well, but his availability is unknown. Ken Hitchcock has turned around the Blues since the firing of Davis Payne and it is unlikely that the organization would want to meddle with a winning product. However, both teams have enough assets to make such a trade happen.
Colaiacovo isn’t a top of the line option as his ability to stay healthy would be a cause for concern for a Minnesota team that is already thin on d-men that can contribute on the offensive side of things. Although Colaiacovo’s proneness to injury can be a deal-breaker, the defenseman has shown that he is a viable option on the powerplay when healthy. While Colaiacovo (14 points, 6 PP Assists) won’t offset the loss of Brent Burns, he would be a welcome addition to a Minnesota defensive core that is led by Jared Spurgeon (15 points). The recent demotion of Marco Scandella illustrated that the Wild are in need of a steady d-man for the rest of the season and help from within the organization might be a bit of a stretch for a team in playoff contention.
Colaiacovo has spent his fair share of time in the league and on the IR, but he could bring a much-needed offensive aspect to a Minnesota defense that is struggling without Brent Burns. Colaiacovo’s contract expires at the end of the 2011-2012 season and he doesn’t handicap the team since the Wild could let him walk if they are displeased with his services. Furthermore, the emergence of former first rounder Kevin Shattenkirk could entice the Blues to part ways with the oft-injured defenseman. Verdict – Buy at the right price.
3.) Jeff Carter - If the Columbus Blue Jackets are intent on having a fire-sale, then Jeff Carter could be attained at the right price. The addition of Jeff Carter could help the Wild in terms of offense as the centre would be able to provide some much needed fire-power to the second line. While Carter is a top-line center, his presence on Minnesota’s second line could help generate some much needed secondary scoring for the Wild. Mikko Koivu will be centering Minnesota’s top line for the foreseeable future and the team is stacked at the position with future prospects. Trading for Carter (much like Nash) would be a stretch and would probably wind up costing the Wild a pretty penny in terms of talent given up, but the forward’s offensive abilities cannot be understated. Verdict – Stay Away (Future is too bright to mortgage)
4.) James Wisniewski - James Wisniewski offers a formidable option for the struggling Minnesota blue-line. While Wisniewski is currently out with a broken ankle, his timetable for return is pegged for mid-February, about a week away from the NHL trade deadline. Wiz has proven his worth in different settings (Islanders, Ducks, Canadiens, Blue Jackets, and Blackhawks) and has illustrated that he has the skill-sets necessary to be a good power-play quarterback. Aside from his stints with the Blue Jackets and Islanders (two defensively starved teams), Wiz’s +/- rating on his other three teams (+23) has shown that he isn’t as much of a defensive liability as his career -13 might indicate. Verdict – Stay Away (Too much of a lengthy contract).
5.) Rene Bourque – Rene Bourque could generate some interest with the upcoming deadline and a change of scenery might actually be a positive for the left winger. The 213 pound winger could offset the loss of Guillaume Latendresse and Bourque’s big frame could actually be a good fit for the physical type of hockey that Minnesota needs to play in order to be successful. However, Bourque does lack consistency and hasn’t exactly been endearing himself to NHL fans lately with his play. With Bourque being signed for two more years, it might not make the most sense to trade for Bourque, but the forward could be a welcome addition to the Wild if he brings the right mentality and desire to play. Verdict – Stay Away (Potential Powder-Keg)
Sell, Sell, Sell?!?!?!
1.) Greg Zanon - Greg Zanon is one of the Minnesota Wild players that could be shopped when the NHL Trade Deadline rolls around. The Wild will most likely be looking to rebuild their defensive core with budding prospects such as Jonas Brodin on the way and Zanon’s 3 points in 22 games this season are not appealing to anyone. However, the d-man is a great shot blocker (57 shots blocked in 22 games) that can be useful to most teams. The Wild might look to cut ties with Zanon as he is not contributing much on the offensive side of things, but his shot-blocking abilities might net the Wild an average return from a team that needs such defensive services. Verdict – Sell
2.) Josh Harding – The American netminder has put on quite a performance during the 2011-2012 NHL season and could generate a lot of interest from teams that need help in the goaltending category. While it is highly unlikely that Harding will be going anywhere come February 27th, many teams will undoubtedly be looking to get help between the pipes. Harding could command a respectable return at the trade deadline and possibly net the Wild a forward or defenseman that the team is in need of. However, Harding has made a case to stay in the frozen tundra through his strong play and has displayed that he can take care of the goaltending reigns if the team chooses to part ways with Niklas Backstrom at some point. Matt Hackett has shown signs of promise in his brief stint with the Wild and Johan Gustafsson’s performances at the World Juniors made it apparent that the organization is loaded with enough talent in goal to warrant the departure of a netminder, but trading Harding away could have its consequences in the future. Verdict – KEEP!
3.) Prospects - Many current Minnesota Wild players may not garner much interest at the trade deadline, but the Minnesota prospects will definitely be a hot topic. All six Minnesota prospects at this year’s WJC demonstrated their skill sets and any team would love to have their hands on any Wild prospect. Charlie Coyle, Zack Phillips, Jason Zucker, Mikael Granlund, Jonas Brodin, Johan Larsson, and Johan Gustafsson are all too valuable to trade away at this point of the season. Any trade that involves any one of the aforementioned prospects should merit the Wild a respectable return, but the future should be left untouched. Verdict – HANDS OFF
In the case of the Minnesota Wild, remaining inactive during the trade deadline could actually benefit the team. If the Wild want to acquire a top shelf scorer or offensive defenseman, the GM on the other line will most likely demand that Chuck Fletcher part ways with some promising prospect(s). Losing players such as Jonas Brodin, Johan Larsson, Jason Zucker, and Charlie Coyle would be a great loss to a franchise that has worked diligently at scouting and drafting talent that could make a big impact at the professional level.
Many NHL clubs have experienced buyer’s remorse at the trade deadline, which is why the Minnesota Wild should not sell high or buy high this year. Chuck Fletcher will have every opportunity to buy talent during the offseason and explore trade options when the summer rolls around. The WJHC was the perfect platform to showcase future talent and the Wild illustrated that they had invested in the right players. Since sacrificing the future could have dire consequences for the Minnesota Wild, the club should look to refrain from making any big splashes via the trade market come February 27th.
- Buy at the right price indicates that the Minnesota Wild should try to land the respective player at a bargained price without having to dip into the talent pool.