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  • Cold Omaha Staff Minnesota Wild Protection Lists

    Giles Ferrell

    Next week, the long-awaited Expansion Draft for the Vegas Golden Knights will take place. The other 30 NHL teams have to get their protected player lists in this Saturday (June 17) at 4 p.m. Central Time, which will get broken down and eventually to Vegas for a three day deliberation period. So before we dissect who the Wild are protecting/leaving exposed, the Cold Omaha/Zone Coverage hockey staff got together and gave their protection list if they were the Wild General Manager.


    (For rules on the protection list, click here. Players noted with 'NMC' are required to be protected automatically due to their No Movement Clauses)

    Tom Schreier

    Forwards: Zach Parise (NMC), Mikko Koivu (NMC), Jason Pominville (NMC), Jason Zucker, Nino Niederreiter, Mikael Granlund, and Charlie Coyle


    Defensemen: Ryan Suter (NMC), Jared Spurgeon, and Matt Dumba


    Goalie: Devan Dubnyk


    The Wild will lose a good defenseman in the expansion draft, unless they strike a deal soon. They have to keep Jared Spurgeon, who possesses speed and is a threat to score at any given moment when he has the puck. And his positioning on the defensive end of the ice allows him to be a factor despite his small frame.


    The main question is whether to keep Matt Dumba or Jonas Brodin. Marco Scandella carries a $4 million cap hit through 2019, so despite his natural gifts and track record of success early in his career, the Wild would gladly see Vegas pick him up.


    Dumba and Brodin are more attractive options, however. Dumba is on a rookie contract, has scored 10 goals twice in his career so far and is only 22. Brodin has possessed preternatural defensive ability since he entered the league at age 19 in 2012-13, but has plateaued recently and never developed an offensive game. Perhaps on a new team with a new system he starts putting the puck in the net. And while he remains a fine player defensively, given his $4.17 million cap hit, Dumba is the player to protect given his cost, age and upside.


    Dumba could go on to be the next Brent Burns if he heads west. In Brodin, they simply lose a strong defensive presence who could be replaced in free agency or internally with Gustav Olofsson. Keeping Dumba in St. Paul is unequivocally the correct move for the Wild heading into the expansion draft.


    Jason Zucker is going to be prized by the Golden Knights, given that he's the only NHL player born and raised in Las Vegas. But with 20 goals scored last season, and 21 scored in 51 games two seasons ago, the Wild must retain the speedy Zucker. Unless a deal can be reached with George McPhee before the draft, which would allow the Wild to keep their defensive corps intact, Minnesota should hold onto 25-year-old with 25-goal potential.


    Along the same lines, Nino Niederreiter and Mikael Granlund are too important to the Wild's offensive attack to be dangled in the draft. Niederreiter was considered a potential franchise player for the New York Islanders when he was drafted No. 5 overall in 2012, and Granlund put up 69 points last season.


    Charlie Coyle is a candidate to get dealt this offseason, given his inconsistent production throughout his career, but the 25-year-old has size, is capable of scoring 20 goals in a season and shows leadership potential if the Wild want to place a letter on the shoulder of one of their young players once Koivu departs.

    Heather Rule

    Forwards: Zach Parise (NMC), Mikko Koivu (NMC), Jason Pominville (NMC), Mikael Granlund, Nino Niederreiter, Jason Zucker, and Charlie Coyle


    Defensemen: Ryan Suter (NMC), Jared Spurgeon, and Matt Dumba


    Goalie: Devan Dubnyk


    This is the tough part for the Wild. Vegas will probably snatch the odd-defenseman-out (Scandella/Brodin) that the Wild can’t protect. That’s the way it goes in this draft. Fingers crossed that all the Dumba turnovers can be chalked up as learning experiences for a young player and that he’ll grow out of them.


    Eric Staal's experience transferred into becoming the team’s leading goal scorer with 28, and he was not a bust like some of the other veteran-forward signings of the past on this team. However, with so many other good options to protect younger players on this team, it’s tough to make a case to keep Staal over some of the young talent. At the same time, the choices for Vegas when looking at the Wild’s roster will probably shift toward defensemen. Protecting Staal would just expose another forward that Vegas could decide to grab instead.

    Ben Remington

    Forwards: Zach Parise (NMC), Mikko Koivu (NMC), Jason Pominville (NMC), Mikael Granlund, Charlie Coyle, Nino Niederreiter, and Jason Zucker


    Defensemen: Ryan Suter, Jared Spurgeon, and Matt Dumba


    Goalie: Devan Dubnyk


    To me, the decisions seem somewhat easy, despite having to expose some good players. For the forwards, it comes down to exposing Staal and Haula instead of Nino and Zucker. Nino and Zucker both have youth and production on their side, while Staal (youth) and Haula (production) do not.


    On the defensive side it seems a bit trickier, but as I wrote about last week and mentioned on this week's GatG, You either protect Dumba, or lose him and have to insert Christian Folin into your top four, or play Scandella and Brodin together (both left-handed defensemen). I have nothing against Folin, but with Mike Reilly (another left shot) probably deserving some more NHL time this season, you've just got too many lefties. Also, Brodin or Scandella's $4-plus million cap hits are much better when taken off the Wild's ledger than Dumba's $2.5 million.

    Giles Ferrell

    Forwards: Mikko Koivu (NMC), Zach Parise (NMC), Jason Pominville (NMC), Mikael Granlund, Nino Niederreiter, Charlie Coyle, and Jason Zucker


    Defenseman: Ryan Suter (NMC), Jared Spurgeon, and Matt Dumba


    Goalie: Devan Dubnyk


    This falls in line with everyone else, but this should be the list Chuck Fletcher turns into Central Registry on Saturday afternoon. The Wild badly need a bigger cap hit to come off the books, and this seems to be a logical way to get there. While this also leaves Staal ($3.5 million) unprotected (who Vegas could easily take), the hope here is that defensemen Brodin ($4.166 million) or Scandella ($4 million) get taken to give the Wild some cap relief. Jason Pominville isn't going to waive the NMC, and you're not going to let your most valuable asset, Dumba, get taken for absolutely nothing in return.


    Haula, who GatG guest Ken Bohelke of SinBin.Vegas was really intrigued with, is the other player of note who is left off my protected list. Haula could be a good cheaper option for Vegas, who apparently are looking to take on old veteran contracts for draft picks. If Vegas wanted to go with a young/cheap option for center, Haula could be an easy choice for them.



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