Toronto has had one heck of a busy summer thus far. With the Mike Babcock coaching decision, trade of star Phil Kessel, and the steal of the Devils’ Lou Lamoriello, there is a new age of Maple coming for the Leafs. Despite all of these moves, they still might not be done.
Last week, it was reported that a few teams around the league have significant interest in trading for Toronto’s James Van Riemsdyk. One of the three major teams considered “very serious” in this notion, are the Minnesota Wild. Just how serious they are is up for speculation, but as it was pointed out, they have begun putting together “major proposals” internally, as have the Capitals and Flames.
Now where this intel originated from, comes into question for me personally, but for the sake of the entertainment value that is the NHL offseason, let us play along even if this is an entirely conjured rumor. Who wouldn’t like to see the talented 26 year-old New Jersey native sporting a Wild sweater anyway?
The Minnesota Wild, (pending any potential deal), seem to have their positions set in stone with a familiar top-9 entering next year, (Fletcher has stated contentedness with this group and believes that they can win now). Up the middle, The trio of Mikael Granlund, Mikko Koivu, and Charlie Coyle (stay tuned later this month for more on the latter, courtesy of THW) seem to be the pieces in place for center. On the right wing, the Wild have Jason Pominville, Nino Niederreiter, and Justin Fontaine, each entering their third-straight season with the organization respectively. Finally, a left wing group consisting of Thomas Vanek, Jason Zucker, and Zach Parise, is probably the most flexible in their ability to play anywhere throughout the line-up. However, with JVR playing left wing, questions arise on whether or not Minnesota can fit in another left winger of their own, should they pursue this trade specifically.
Jason Zucker is not leaving the top-six forward core, plain and simple. He has shown however, that he can play on the right side with no consequences to his game. Vanek could very well start this year on the third line if he is outperformed in training camp, leaving an open left wing spot on the second. (Insert JVR?).
The Maple Leafs have some work to do, and questions requiring answers in regards to their depth. Short on right wingers, and weak on defense in years past, a package deal from the Wild for JVR is possibly the only option should a trade be granted. So what would this package consist of?
The Leafs would likely look for a right winger, defenseman, and a high draft pick in return for JVR alone. Is this something the Wild could accommodate? While it would be tough to swallow for some, it is indeed possible. The Leafs could use a defender like Jared Spurgeon whose name has been thrown around all summer long pertaining to trades specifically due to him needing a new contract at next season’s end. The addition of Mike Reilly a few short weeks ago could really stoke the fire here. Spurgeon would compliment Dion Phaneuf on a top pairing, and strengthen the Toronto defense immediately upon arrival.
Another player that could potentially be included in said deal is Charlie Coyle, who can play either center or right wing. Coyle, while not necessarily a bust, has in my opinion underperformed during the regular season in three years with the Minnesota Wild, but still has tremendous potential that has yet to be consistently shown in his tenure with the club.
As Toronto continues to build for the future, a high draft pick would almost have to be guaranteed as well for a deal like this to commence. In my opinion, if Minnesota were to go all out and is willing to deal two youthful talents in Coyle/Spurgeon for instance, and a draft pick, why not throw in a Jason Pominville with that package and try to lure a Tyler Bozak in return with JVR to benefit the Wild’s crop of centers? Even with Pominville included in all of these moving pieces, salaries could still be affordable for both clubs.
Intriguing rumor worth talking about? Definitely. Probable to happen? Most likely, no. However, what are your thoughts on this? Should the Wild look into trading for Olympian Team USA member James Van Riemsdyk? If so, what should Fletcher and company be willing to deal in a blockbuster of a trade to acquire him?
Jon Nomland is a Journalism student out of Colorado, and currently a Minnesota Wild contributor for The Hockey Writers. When not engaged in Wild hockey, he enjoys following the Philadelphia Flyers due to his Pennsylvania roots.