The NHL trade deadline is just days away as it is set for 3 P.M. ET on Monday. Teams will make their final calls and decisions in the next couple of days as to what direction they’re trending and how to best address their needs for the short or long term.
The Minnesota Wild’s successful season so far has derailed any plans of being a seller. When general manager Bill Guerin made moves this offseason, it appeared he set the team up to be sellers and that it would be a great avenue to accumulating more draft capital and prospects to strengthen the already strong prospect pool they own.
A Quiet Trade Deadline
The Wild were set to be active at the deadline given they have five pending free agents in Nick Bjugstad, Marcus Johansson, Nick Bonino, Ian Cole, and Brad Hunt. Everything has changed now given their strong playoff position. It doesn’t appear that the Wild will buy or sell which will shape the trade deadline to be very quiet for the organization unless something changes.
“I don’t expect us to be too, too active, but if something comes up that makes sense, yeah, we’ll do it.”NHL.com
With this being said, Guerin is not afraid to make a move if it makes sense. He has always said that he will make any move as long as it makes sense and makes the team better. Unless a deal arises he can’t pass up, it will be a relatively quiet deadline for the team. Some names to watch out for could include Marcus Johansson and Matt Dumba who would likely be the only ones that would be moved. The latter seems unlikely though unless a team is willing to pay.
Wild Should Not Acquire a Faceoff Specialist
The Wild’s 46.2 percentage in the faceoff circle is tied for the second-worst league-wide. While faceoffs are certainly important, they are not as valuable as some people make them out to be. The value of faceoffs is to gain possession which hopefully leads to more shots, goals, and therefore, wins. Not only do they rank third-to-last in winning draws, but their 45.68 Corsi for percentage (CF%) – an advanced metric looking at shot attempts and can be a good indicator of possession – at 5-on-5 is dead last in the NHL. All of this and the Wild are still within six points of the division-leading Colorado Avalanche.
The Wild should absolutely not waste assets to acquire a face-off specialist. Especially, a player who excels in the dot but is abysmal in every other facet of the game. Now, when I say, “don’t acquire a faceoff specialist,” I am directing that towards Luke Glendening. There have been rumors that a team like the Wild could benefit from acquiring him because he is one of the best centers in the faceoff department as he holds a 63 percent success rate.
Glendening has 11 points in 39 games. Likewise, he has a 44.78 CF% and 43.66 xGF% at 5-on-5. He is not an effective player at 5-on-5 and is only an asset in terms of his ability to win faceoffs at this point in his career. It doesn’t make sense to acquire someone solely based on faceoffs who is not able to provide value in any aspect.
Regardless, Glendening or not, it is not worth surrendering future assets – even a middle-round pick – for a faceoff specialist when it hasn’t affected the team to date and there really is no spot for one either.
What About Matt Boldy?
The Wild burned the first year of Matt Boldy’s entry-level contract (ELC). If they want to call him up from Iowa, it could become difficult to find him a roster spot or a significant role. This leaves the potential for a trade before the deadline to open up a spot for the 20-year-old forward. In my mind, the Wild should make sure he gets some action this season since they burned the first year of his ELC. It could be a good experience and he could be a significant asset going into the playoffs.
If a trade were to occur, I’d have to think forward Marcus Johansson would be the player moved. It is the most logical choice because they need Bonino for face-offs and Bjugstad is a middle-six center who the Wild need because they are thin down the middle. Due to Johansson’s playoff experience, it would be interesting to see if a team would bet on him and take a risk despite him returning within the last couple of weeks after missing a long stretch of games due to an injury.
There’s Always a Chance…Dumba Could Be Moved
There is always a chance that defenseman Matt Dumba could be moved at the trade deadline. He has been in rumors for a while now and it doesn’t appear it is going to ever calm down. While it is highly unlikely – almost improbable – because the Wild are sitting comfortably in a playoff spot by defying all expectations, it just can’t be ignored because of the circumstances.
The 26-year-old defenseman has a 10-team no-trade-list that will come into effect this summer which means trading him before the Seattle Expansion Draft could become very difficult if they don’t move him before the deadline. With Calen Addison bound to make the team out of training camp next season, he will be the replacement which makes this situation even more interesting.
If the Wild choose to protect Dumba in the Seattle Expansion Draft, they will lose a young forward like Jordan Greenway which just doesn’t make sense when they have Addison in the pipeline to replace Dumba. It would be a mistake if they allow Seattle to select him as he has the potential to be a first-pairing defenseman. So, there’s always the possibility Guerin could move him in order to get something in return rather than losing him for nothing.
Aaron Heckmann covers the Wild for The Hockey Writers & Zone Coverage. His data-driven articles are focused on solving problems, telling stories, and discovering unique storylines. Find him on Twitter @aaron_heckmann.