The Minnesota Wild are looking to make some moves this offseason to improve on their disappointing season in 2015-16. GM Chuck Fletcher has already hinted that “I’m much more comfortable with our flexibility this year than last year. It’s going to give us more options.” By options, one can assume that Fletcher means that he feels the team will be able to make a move in not only the free-agent market but the trade market as well.
It’s no secret that the Wild need and are seeking help in the form of one or two top six forwards, and it seems that the free-agent pool this offseason is not extremely deep for forwards. With a lot of teams looking for forwards in free agency, the price tag for the type of talent the Wild seek could be very high. The trade market may be the way to go in order to add the forward or forwards they seek at a friendlier price.
In the trade market this offseason, just as it was in the regular season, the Wild will look to leverage a deep and talented defensive corps to get that forward help. The defensemen of the Wild are a talented group that has been lauded as a bright spot in an otherwise underperforming lineup. From their leader 11-year veteran Ryan Suter to the talented young former 1st round pick Mathew Dumba, this is a group that has many players that are very desirable to other teams looking to bolster their defense.
To make this deal Fletcher will have a beast of a time trying to figure out exactly which defensemen he can move and which ones he needs to keep. Still with a little close examination, you can whittle it down to who the most likely defensemen are to be traded in a defense for forward trade.
Dumba’s first full season at the NHL level was met with mixed reviews. The extremely talented 21-year old looked to have a break-out year but fell short of that expectation by all accounts. He played 23 more regular season games in 2015-16 but only managed to tally 10 more points. Not to mention he seemed to have issues with turnovers in key game situations and has been criticized for a lack of solid defensive play.
Still Dumba’s talent has yet to fully be reached, and that is why teams would want to make a deal for him. Additionally, his goal scoring talent and booming shot make him very attractive to a potential trade partner. Fletcher was quoted by Michael Russo in the Star Tribune as saying of Dumba “This is a guy that will score goals in the league. How many? Time will tell. He competes, he cares.” Also on Dumba’s competitiveness Fletcher said: “A couple times this year he stepped up fighting guys outside his weight class to spark the team.”
— Chad Graff (@ChadGraff) April 28, 2016
With Dumba moving into this offseason as an RFA, the Wild might be best served to move him and let another team swallow up what will most likely be a contract that will take him close to $2 million a season. It might not seem like a lot of money on the surface but the money can certainly be used more efficiently to facilitate getting that help up front.
Jonas Brodin is a solid defense-first defenseman. Virtually every team in the NHL has a use for his services, and would love to add the 22-year-old Swede to their blueline. He plays serious minutes every game with an average of over 20 minutes a game in every one of his four NHL seasons. His point totals are a bit of a downside to teams as he is coming off of a season with only seven points in 68 games played.
Brodin is currently signed for five more seasons with an average cap hit of $4.1 million a season. That makes him very attractive to other teams as he’s got a ton of years left and at a somewhat affordable price tag. With the kind of talent, the Wild would be trading for Brodin’s current cap hit would most likely be at or under the player being traded to the Wild. So that makes him even more attractive to a team who might need to open up some cap room.
Scandella is a great mix of offense and defense which is what any team would want from a defender. He boasts a very physical game while making the most of the opportunities on the offensive side of the puck. His numbers last season were 21 points in 73 games, a plus-minus rating of +6, and an average ice time greater than 20 minutes a game. Those numbers show that Scandella is somewhere closer to Dumba’s offensive output mixed with the pure defense of Brodin.
Scandella is a cap hit of $4 million a season for four more seasons. Like Brodin, he becomes very attractive to teams because he has years left on an affordable price tag that can offer a bit of cap relief given the right circumstance.
— Minnesota Wild (@mnwild) April 17, 2016
Regardless of what deal is struck, it will be hard for the Wild to part with any of the three defenders mentioned. Still to get the forward and scoring help that they need to improve on last season and make that deep playoff run, sacrifices will need to be made. The Wild might not even need to make a trade to get some improvement in their lineup, but if they did perhaps one of these players’ value will be enough to help the team acquire some badly needed scoring talent for their forward corps. Bottom line from Fletcher himself is that “we need to upgrade the personnel”, and trading one of these players can do that.
Fletcher: "we need to upgrade the personnel." But he says they're a team on the rise, not the decline #mnwild
— Michael Russo (@RussoHockey) April 28, 2016
Danny Lambert has been covering the Minnesota Wild for some time now, and is back again as contributor to THW staff. A native Minnesotan he’s always had his eye on the State of Hockey and is proud to write and represent such a great market and fans. Follow him on Twitter at @dannylambert17