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  • Should the Wild Trade With Utah To Beef Up Their Prospect Pool?

    Image courtesy of Eric Bolte-USA Today Sports
    Tony Abbott

    With so many No-Trade and No-Move Clauses on the Minnesota Wild's books, it will take a creative move for them to drastically change their club going forward. We know a few of the options they might consider. They could flip Marco Rossi or trade up or down the draft board to land the secret sauce the Wild are missing.

    When discussing the teams rumored to be involved in talks for Rossi last week, we noted that most didn't have the size Minnesota purportedly sought. However, there was one exception: The Utah Hockey Club (or Arizona Coyotes, if you're living in the past). If Bill Guerin wants a collection of Beefy Boys, he will probably have to comb the Rocky Mountains to find them.

    Is there a fit there? We've previously discussed Utah as a possible Rossi destination, but for a former prospect in Dylan Guenther. Rossi's probably the only available NHL player who would net a top prospect. Still, we can assume that assets like Minnesota's No. 13 overall pick or perhaps even cashing in on 2023 second-rounder Riley Heidt could strike a match if we want to get nutty with it. 

    If Utah wants a team name, they might want to consider the Unicorns. Not because of the alliteration or because the team is particularly open to the lifestyle but because they've targeted players with the almost unheard-of combination of top-tier speed and massive size. 

    The headliners here are 6-foot-5 defenseman Dmitry Simashev (6th overall in 2023), 6-foot-6 forward Daniil But (12th, 2023), 6-foot-4 center Conor Geekie (11th, 2022), and 6-foot-7 Maveric Lamoureux (29th, 2022). Utah gets these giant kids in bulk, giving them a ton of depth in their system. They've had an incredible 19 picks in the first, second, and third rounds since 2021. 5-foot-10 Logan Cooley (3rd, 2022) and 6-foot-0 Tanner Ludtke (81th, 2023) are the only players listed below 6-foot-1.

    So, a relatively minor deal could probably add some bulk to Minnesota's system. But let's keep our eyes on the prize: The (Extremely) Big Four of Simashev, But, Geekie, and Lamoureux. Which ones should interest the Wild?

    Immediately, the temperature on Simashev is probably closest to the trade value of someone like Rossi. Coming into last season, EP Rinkside ranked them neck-and-neck on their Top-100 Prospects list, with Rossi ranked 21 and Simashev edging him out at 20. Both players established themselves in the highest level of hockey available to them, with Rossi scoring 21 goals and 40 points in the NHL and Simashev playing 63 KHL games, scoring four goals and 10 points.

    The numbers are unimpressive but probably deceiving. If Simashev hits on most of his upside, his game will look like a physical version of Jonas Brodin. Comparing a prospect to Brodin is a really high bar to clear, but Simashev has the skating to do it. "Few skaters in all of hockey can match his speed and fluidity, regardless of size," writes EP Rinkside. Then, echoing Brodin, they continue, "He easily builds speed skating backward to match that of his opponents in space."

    If all goes well, Simashev will have the skating ability of a Brodin with peak Ryan Suter's net-clearing ability. If there are any more offensive flashes like the following clip, the sky is the limit with him.


    But what if Minnesota wants a forward like But (OK, fine, it's pronounced "Boot," "boot" come on, let me do this)? Like with 2021 Wild first-rounder Danila Yurov, But spent his Draft+1 season playing not-very-big minutes on his KHL team. But was still able to perform as a metaphorical locomotive at power forward for Lokomotiv Yaroslavl, scoring 10 goals and 21 points in 55 regular-season games. However, he played sparingly as Lokomotiv went to the Gagarin Cup Finals.

    With his size and skills, though, But can be the kind of power forward the Wild might feel like they lack right now. The Athletic's Corey Pronman ranked him 10th among the 2023 Draft class in terms of upside, saying, "You can envision a Tage Thompson-type of skill set... [He] can skate, handles the puck well, makes plays, and is a shot threat from range."

    The fact that there might not be a similar forward in the range of Minnesota's No. 13 pick could make But extra intriguing to them.


    In the context of a potential Rossi deal, the Wild can't get an established NHL center that is bigger and faster than Rossi. It's just not going to happen. However, Minnesota could bet on an unproven center's physical toolkit and hope it pans out. Geekie could be someone who fits that bill.

    When you're 6-foot-4 and skilled, that will turn heads with any NHL team. However, of Utah's Extremely Big Four, Geekie is the only one whose skating stands out as a weakness. That won't doom him, especially if his stride improves in the NHL, but it adds risk to the equation.

    "He's a unique player with two possible futures," wrote EP Rinkside's Mitch Brown last year. "In one of them, he leverages his blooming playmaking abilities... to become an intimidating top-six forward.... On the other one, his skating and size become weaknesses at the professional level."

    Translation: Is this guy Ryan Getzlaf or Dylan Strome? The power pivot had his breakout season in the WHL last year, scoring 43 goals and 99 points in 55 games across two teams, giving hope that it's the former. 


    It's very unlikely that the Wild would get the Unicorn of the 2024 Draft, smooth-skating 6-foot-7 defenseman Anton Silayev, with the No. 13 overall pick. But in Utah's system, the similarly hulking Lamoureux isn't even their top defenseman. Would landing him be a single-handed solution to the Wild's perceived size issues?

    Injuries limited Lamoureux to just 39 games last season and 128 games total over his past three seasons in the QMJHL. But he took a big step forward this season, scoring a career-high nine goals and 33 points.

    "He moves well, his shot explodes off his stick from the point, and he's got a first touch," noted The Athletic's Scott Wheeler in February. The mental side of his game also is catching up to his tools, according to Wheeler. "His processing, reads, and decision-making have all come a long way to cut down on mistakes and penalties."

    He combines that with being a wrecking ball. However, the injuries make you wonder if the damage goes both ways. "He crashes into players at high speeds, beats them down in the corners, and slams them to the ice," writes EP Rinkside. Lamoureux is the kind of player that could grab hold of Guerin's imagination.

    These players position Utah in a unique position if there indeed is a Rossi sweepstakes, or an opportunity to grab a top pick or prospect from Minnesota's system. If the Wild want to bulk up their organization, Utah's front office has assembled perhaps the league's best stockpile of sizable young talent. As we head towards Friday's draft, this is something to keep an eye on. 

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    1 hour ago, Tony Abbott said:

    If Guerin &co don’t whiff of 2020 draft (orourke, hunt) and 2021 draft (Lambos, peart ) we could’ve been in a position to trade mids for middle 6 fwd instead of signing him well into his 30’s.   Experienced dman (kulikov) are cheap on the open market

    But Pewter those prospects could pan out.   True.  But those are 1st and 2nd rounders so it’s not unreasonable to expect one of them to be in lineup by now.  Hunt?

    Edited by Pewterschmidt
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    Now, this is something to consider. I'll review-

    In my research, I've found that if you can hit on 2 years of 3-4 players drafted in a 3 year period, you are most likely to have a special team. That team grows up together, works well together, and socializes together. I did no research on what happens when you trade into that group (like we did with Faber from 2020). From that year, we have Rossi, Dino, Hunt and Faber who have debuted at least. 

    Now, out of that group of 3-4 players, they needed to be players who had a solid role with the club, not an AHL call up. For awhile, we tried that with the 2010 draft and traded for some other players from that draft too. We were looking good for awhile, and then blew it up.

    But, if we traded for a player from the 2020-22 draft who was a top prospect chosen but has yet to debut, I think we might have something here. The Wall has already debuted from 2021. Ohgren debuted from 2022 and we're pretty sure (don't worry ODC, I said pretty sure) he's going to be better than a solid player when he comes from Russia. Put in another guy from this group that Utah's got and maybe going with the '20-'22 drafts could work? 

    I like bunching the players together like that in a 3 year window. I think this is a very good way to get guys to mature together.

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