Monday’s game between the Minnesota Wild and Vancouver Canucks may determine which of these teams is going to be a seller at the trade deadline.
In a year where the Canucks have vocally been attempting to shift to their organization’s youth, that result may be met with a little disappointment than the Wild, who have gambled everything on a three to four-year window being their shot at a Cup.
Just two weeks from the February 29 deadline, both teams are five points out from a wild card spot in the Western Conference. They’re two of three teams in that position. All three of those teams have a game-in-hand on the eighth place Nashville Predators and three games-in-hand on the seventh place Colorado Avalanche.
A Loss in Torchetti’s Debut
A loss on Monday and a Nashville win would put the Wild seven points back. Even without a Nashville win they remain five points out and give up two points to a wild card contender. They’re no longer the closest team to a wild card spot, but fading in the rearview.
A loss on Monday puts the Wild 13 days and seven games from the trade deadline.
A loss on Monday could make them sellers.
There’s almost no way to recover already. Sports Club Stats puts their odds of making the playoffs at 35.7%. Prior to the All-Star break they were in the 90s. Giving up two points to Vancouver and a worst case scenario of hitting seven points out of the playoffs is a kill screen for Minnesota.
For the Wild, there will certainly be some leeway given to coach John Torchetti, who debuts Monday night, entering a garbage situation with a team that has lost seven straight games. But the players will have to face the music. They face a situation where they may driven the train completely off the track.
In the front office, there will be some wrangling with difficult decisions on who to sell and who could potentially be a buyout candidate. They’ll need to find a way to build for the future and take any cap relief he can get for the coming season, if it’s possible. Missing the playoffs will be an indictment of a team that is loaded with veterans on big contracts. It may force them to try a new direction — somehow — because those veterans will only be a year older.
If they can start to win, Chuck Fletcher and the veteran core can rewrite the narrative on how we view whose five highest paid players are 31 and older.
Dustin Nelson writes about news and the Minnesota Wild for The Hockey Writers.