The Minnesota Wild teased us a little bit. Flirting with the idea of them suddenly falling down the hell known as the Central Division standings, making one of the one true successful starts to a regular season in Minnesota completely wasted. But since then, the Wild have fortunately earned five of their last six available points. Whether it is just reverting back to their true talent level, or just a sudden uptick in their eventual downfall, is still to be seen — but there’s not a lot of time for them to make any changes based on what they can be.
On March 21 the NHL trade deadline will happen and teams have to figure out if they want to buy, sell, or stand completely still in the middle of the road and hope to have enough gas to not get run over and filled with regret.
Well, if the Wild somehow convince GM Bill Guerin enough in their three games until then — losing by several goals in each game or something — that this team should be stripped for its parts and get some future assets instead of hoping for a streak of luck in the post-season, then they at least have some options to do so.
In the extremely hypothetical world that the Wild turn into sellers, there are at least some players to do that with.
The hometown boy was acquired two seasons ago, re-signed with the Wild to a one-year contract, and is currently a pending unrestricted free agent. Bjugstad has served his role as a bottom-six player and has been effective when he is in the lineup, earning 10 points in 39 games while averaging less than 10 minutes per game. Not bad! The 29-year-old would certainly not be the splashiest move by a contender, but could solidify any team’s depth with an offensive punch on their fourth line. The Wild would certainly not get much back for him, so this is just a big meh.
Sturm’s entire career has been in Minnesota and it would be a weird parting of ways as the pending unrestricted free agent is probably looking to hit the open market this summer no matter what. At 26 years of age, he might be an option for some team that would love to commit to Sturm for a little bit longer — the Pittsburgh Penguins do love their grindy college dudes, for instance. But for the Wild, Sturm is seemingly creating a miniature logjam for the bottom-six and younger players with higher ceilings (Connor Dewar, Brandon Duhaime, Mason Shaw, etc.) could take advantage of him leaving.
Again, the return would not be a whole lot more than a late-round draft pick or some prospect that a team has fallen out of love with.
Just last season Jordie Benn was acquired for a sixth-round pick at the deadline, so will him being on a better team garner a little bit of more interest? Probably not, but we can dream. Yet another pending unrestricted free agent, Benn at least has a very capable and easy replacement in Calen Addison, and he wouldn’t even be guaranteed a spot in the lineup. It’s tricky, so this might be something that just doesn’t happen regardless. They really like him anyways.
Okay, this one is a little more tricky that just taking the best deal you can for pending depth free agents. When Goligoski signed this summer to his one-year deal, it was initially reported that the Wild have a sort of “handshake deal” with him to re-sign him to a multi-year deal at a much lower cap hit, since Minnesota gained a boatload of cap space just this one single year with the Ryan Suter and Zach Parise buyouts. Now, that appears to have changed.
The Athletic’s Michael Russo reported earlier this week that Wild management have changed their minds and will most likely not bring him back. Goligoski has looked just alright next to Jared Spurgeon for the majority of the season, but it was immediately apparent that he can’t stand on his own once the captain left the lineup due to injury mid-season. So if the Wild are really down in the dumps, Goligoski is the one potential rental that they could move to try and get a good return to further bolster one of the NHL’s top prospect pools. There is a wrinkle though. The 36-year-old blueliner has a full No-Move Clause on his contract, so he gets full control if there’s a trade or not. And considering that he was talking so much about “coming home” and being comfortable here in Minnesota, I doubt he wants to leave just several months later.
This is the one thing that is going to happen for sure. Certain reporters have already given it a 100 percent possibility that he will be traded and not signed by the Wild. It has also been reported that Minnesota is looking to get a draft pick higher than where McBain was taken in the third round, or something of an equivalent prospect. Obviously, that is ideal, but it all depends on whether the Wild want to continue bolstering for the future, or to use McBain as a trade chip to get a rental if they don’t suck.
McBain currently has the fourth-highest points-per-game in the entire NCAA, and has scored 19 goals in just 24 games. It’s a little crazy, but clearly the Wild either aren’t that interested, or his camp has made it particularly clear that the 22-year-old does not want to sign in Minnesota. At least there was communication and the Wild will get something back for drafting him and then letting him develop somewhere else.
At least we’re guaranteed one trade in the near future.