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  • How the Jost For Sturm Trade Impacts the Wild's Future

    Aaron Heckmann

    The Minnesota Wild played like a team with serious Stanley Cup aspirations throughout the first half of the season. But then they went downhill, with a 4-10 stretch against several of the league's best teams, forcing general manager Bill Guerin to make a move. The Wild struck a deal with the Colorado Avalanche where they swapped depth centers Nico Sturm and Tyson Jost.


    Both depth centers are deployed on the penalty kill and are effective defensively. Sturm and Jost are relatively even in terms of point production, but Sturm has better overall underlying numbers. The only downside to the trade is the Wild have a faceoff problem, and Sturm is 52 percent in the dot this season. But Jost, 24, is a more skilled player. Minnesota hopes he has a higher upside than Sturm.


    But why did the Wild make such a minor move with a Central-division rival?


    Well, in Minnesota’s mind, they improved their roster. "99 percent of the decision was to make us better this year, and I think we are better," Guerin said.


    Even though Sturm has been slightly better, it still could be true since their usage and playing style are very similar. Furthermore, it’s clear that Jost has the talent edge, and Colorado didn’t utilize him properly, perhaps even rushing him to the NHL. Remember, Jost is a former 10th overall pick who looked poised to be a talented player after his success with Penticton in the BCHL and the University of North Dakota.


    While this is undoubtedly a move the Wild feel makes them better, there's no doubt that Guerin wanted to shake up the roster. It's a reminder to the team about Monday's fast-approaching NHL trade deadline. Minnesota received the message well and responded with a huge win in Jost's Wild debut against the Boston Bruins.


    There are other reasons behind why the Wild made the trade, too. Sturm, who turns 27 this summer, is a pending UFA. According to a report from The Athletic, he turned down a long-term team-friendly deal to stay in Minnesota.


    While there was hope they could retain his services, it was clear that Sturm was going to test the market this summer in the hope of a larger role. He could potentially be a team's No. 3 center. That wasn't going to happen in Minnesota with Ryan Hartman, Joel Eriksson Ek, and Freddy Gaudreau down the middle and the expectation that Marco Rossi will be on the roster next season.


    And now there’s another decision to make this summer since the Wild will have five centers at their disposal when taking into account Rossi’s arrival. Looking forward, it's difficult to envision a top-six role for Jost beyond this season, so he could become a future trade chip. And that's why it's important to give him an elevated role to see what he can do. Could Minnesota move Gaudreau this summer? Or do they see if Jost is better on the wing?


    The Wild were able to fetch a young cost-controlled center in return for Sturm. It’s still interesting that Minnesota decided to trade for a player with term given their pending cap troubles ahead.


    The cap complications could cause pending RFA Kevin Fiala to become a cap causality because of the buyouts. That's why it’s interesting that the Wild not only signed Jordan Greenway to a 3-year, $9 million extension but also added Jost to the mix. 


    It makes things even tighter this summer, but Guerin has likely decided whether he will try and retain Fiala’s services this summer. It’s definitely an interesting situation given how dominant Fiala has been this season and his budding chemistry with rookie Matt Boldy.


    The Jost trade made sense for both teams since both players needed a change of scenery. But ultimately, the Wild will likely get the edge in the deal because Sturm has probably hit his ceiling.


    Moving Gaudreau to the fourth line would be a logical idea for Minnesota. If the Wild want to attempt to unleash Jost's untapped offensive upside — before difficult decisions are made — they need to give him an opportunity in a top-six role sometime down the stretch.

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