Wild Trade Deadline Roster Ranking: Untouchable to Unwanted

The Minnesota Wild are in the midst of a tense battle for a wild card spot in the Western Conference as they struggle to win games with very little offensive production. With their last regulation win over a month ago on Jan. 17 and the trade deadline approaching rapidly, there is no doubt that they will be in search of a goalscorer, but who or what are they willing to give up for it?

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Let’s take a deep dive into the Wild’s roster and break down the entire lineup by how likely they are to include players in a trade, starting with the ones who will never be moved.

Wild’s Untouchable Core

  • Kirill Kaprizov
  • Matt Boldy
  • Joel Eriksson Ek
  • Jared Spurgeon
  • Jonas Brodin
  • Marc-Andre Fleury
  • Filip Gustavsson

These players are obvious choices. Most of them are well-paid and locked into long-term deals that will allow the Wild to build a team around them. A pair of young, electric wingers in Kirill Kaprizov and Boldy will be relied on as the WIld’s game-breakers for years to come. The 26-year-old Eriksson Ek has come into his own as one of the NHL’s best two-way centers and could eventually work himself into Selke Trophy conversations.

On the back end, the Wild have their captain, Spurgeon, and Brodin as a pair of extremely reliable and dependable defensemen. Although they are not massive point producers and will likely never get any national recognition, these two are the backbone of the Wild and will be around for a very long time. 

Rounding out this list are both Wild goaltenders, albeit for different reasons. Fleury signed a two-year deal after being acquired from the Chicago Blackhawks at last season’s trade deadline fully expecting to finish his career with the Wild, which he will. Gustavsson is a restricted free agent (RFA) but with his .928 save percentage (SV%) and 2.12 goals against average (GAA) being second-best in the NHL, he will no doubt be the next player getting an extension.

“They’ve just got to give Gustavsson a chance to grab hold of the net. He’s 8-1-1 in his last 10 home starts, leads the NHL in goals-against average and second in save percentage since before Thanksgiving. This is as confident as he’s been in his career.”

Joe Smith (from “Filip Gustavsson deserves a run in the Wild net: ‘He’s like a wall’ ” , The Athletic, Feb. 18, 2023)

Heavy Overpay Required

  • Mats Zuccarello
  • Freddy Gaudreau
  • Ryan Hartman

This trio could likely be included in the previous grouping, but are older players on expiring deals. Frederick Gaudreau is the only one whose contract ends this season, but his solid two-way play and constant compliments from head coach Dean Evason mean he likely won’t be going anywhere.

Related: Minnesota Wild’s Top 5 Trade Assets at the 2023 Trade Deadline

The pair of first-liners in Hartman and Zuccarello are very different players with one year left on their current contracts but are equally important to the Wild. The only world where they don’t remain with the Wild is one where they price themselves off the team when negotiating their next contracts.

Unlikely to Move

  • Brandon Duhaime
  • Marcus Foligno
  • Ryan Reaves
  • Jacob Middleton
  • Jon Merrill

This next grouping contains a lot of players with similar roles. These guys are big, tough, and hard to play against, and they are exactly the kind of players that the Wild want on their team. It is more likely that general manager Bill Guerin brings in more of this type of player than trades any of them, but there is not a player on this list that hasn’t been invaluable to the team this season.

Some will argue that alternate captain Marcus Foligno should be in a higher category, and I really wanted to put him higher, but the reality is that after an extraordinary 2021-22 season he has fallen off hard and is not the same player this year. There have been more games where he has been a non-factor than games where he has made any impact, and with a $3.1 million cap hit he will have to prove he is worth every dollar as the Zach Parise and Ryan Suter buyout penalties reach their peak next season.

Possible Deals Made

  • Connor Dewar
  • Mason Shaw
  • Alex Goligoski
  • Calen Addison

Now we are getting into the meaty categories. These four players are possibly on the trade block for a variety of reasons. Dewar and Shaw have been a solid pair on the fourth line and key penalty killers, but if a trade is made that requires a solid young forward in return, it would likely be one of these two.

It may be a surprise to see the next two defensemen in this category, but both have had question marks placed on their future with the Wild. Veteran Alex Goligoski has only been active for 23 games this season and is solidly the seventh defenseman on the team. His play has been satisfactory for the most part, but he just does not seem to fit in the Wild’s long-term plans. While I doubt they would move him at the deadline, there is a good chance he is moved in the offseason.

Tied for most assists by a rookie and tied for fourth in total points by a rookie after almost single-handedly reigniting their powerplay, why would Addison find himself in the possible trade category?

Addison struggled to break into the Wild’s roster last season and while he has been a key piece of the first powerplay unit this season, his defensive play, especially at five-on-five, has been bad. He has been benched for the last three games and it just feels like management has no confidence in him. While I don’t believe they would be actively shopping him, if the right offer was presented I could easily see them moving on from Addison and leaning more toward their other defensive prospects.

Make an Offer

  • Jordan Greenway
  • Matt Dumba
  • Sam Steel

Here it is, the players that have a better chance at being moved than staying with the Wild. The rumours around Dumba and Greenway have been swirling for weeks and even months. Their cap situation along with poor play has basically pushed these two out the door and they could be traded any day. A new development to this list is Steel, who up until lately has been their first-line center, but poor play has seen him drop all the way to the press box. He has not quite managed to maintain a decent level of play and if he isn’t traded, he likely will not be re-signed this offseason.

Matt Dumba Minnesota Wild
Matt Dumba, Minnesota Wild (Jess Starr/The Hockey Writers)

The Wild are in a strange position this trade deadline where they have a ton of cap space and a stocked pool to use for acquiring players, but are struggling to get wins and could feasibly miss the playoffs. They have the potential to go all in as one of the most active teams and grab some big names, but they could (and are more likely to) do next to nothing and hope their current roster can catch fire at the right time as the season winds down.

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