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  • The Minnesota Wild's Trades Must Keep Eye On the Future

    Image courtesy of Matt Krohn-USA Today Sports
    Tony Abbott

    The Minnesota Wild are on a three-game winning streak now that they are as healthy as they can reasonably expect to be. It's hard to make up ground in NHL playoff races, but the Wild went from being nine points back of a playoff spot to four points behind the eighth-place Nashville Predators. They can cut that lead to two tonight when the two Central Division rivals square off.

    Is it real, or are we talking about a dead cat bounce? It doesn't matter. Well, it does, but not to the people making decisions about the team's direction. If Bill Guerin was thinking of buying pieces via trade even though the Wild are nine points out in January, you can best believe he's going in that direction when four (or, perhaps tomorrow, two) points back. It's Playoff Season.

    Armed with about $7.5 million of LTIR cap space from Jared Spurgeon's injury, the previously handcuffed Guerin now has some house money burning a hole in his pockets. Now he just needs something to spend it on.

    It's hard to imagine any spending being wise. If the Wild manage to hold onto that second Wild Card spot, that currently means a first-round date with the Vancouver Canucks, who are red-hot and explosive this season. It could also mean a match-up with the Winnipeg Jets, a tough road for the Wild, given how they've treated superstar Kirill Kaprizov. Or, hey, what about the Dallas Stars, who are 9-2-2 against the Wild these past two seasons, out-scoring them 54-27 along the way?

    Doing anything to improve this team in the short term doesn't just seem futile and doesn't just cost the Wild a shot at a game-breaking talent in the draft. It's throwing good money after bad.

    Let's say Guerin can flip a third-round pick to the Arizona Coyotes for Matt Dumba. You can say a third-round pick isn't really all that valuable, and maybe it's not. Except when it is, of course. Remember red-hot prospect Riley Heidt? The only reason he wasn't a third-rounder in last year's draft was because the Wild took him with the final pick of the second round. His teammate, Koehn Ziemmer, was a third-round pick (78th overall). Since then, Ziemmer's been productive when healthy, posting 11 goals and 31 points in 20 WHL games this season.

    It's a needle that seems impossible to thread. How can the Wild address a legitimate need without sacrificing the future? Our most brilliant and attractive scientists at Hockey Wilderness were working on this question. But then, the NHL Network delivered us the answer.

    Eureka! The NHL Network throwing out half-cocked, HFBoards-style trade proposals that won't ever happen somehow managed to reveal the path forward. For accessibility, let's list out their proposal:

    To the Edmonton Oilers: Marc-Andre Fleury (50% salary retained)
    To the Minnesota Wild: Philip Broberg

    Is this specific trade possible? It's tough to say. How satisfied is Marc-Andre Fleury with his Stanley Cup count? Is he hungry enough to waive his no-move clause to play in Edmonton? That's a huge question. With Jesper Wallstedt struggling in Iowa and Filip Gustavsson already spending time on the injury list this season, how ready is Minnesota to part with a Hall of Famer in Fleury? Is Edmonton unhappy enough with Broberg to flip him for a rental?

    Whether or not it's realistic to swap these particular assets for each other isn't really the point. The thing the Wild should zero in on is that Broberg is the perfect trade target to suit their needs for now and in the future. 

    Things haven't worked out for Broberg in the NHL, but the things that made him a former No. 8 overall pick in 2019 (four picks before Matt Boldy) are apparent. He's a 6'3" smooth-skating defenseman from Sweden. Where he's from shouldn't matter, we suppose, but anything that underlines a comparison to Jonas Brodin registers on our radar. 


    Despite having just 11 points in 79 NHL games (including zero in 10 games this season), his AHL numbers are very strong. In 60 games over three seasons, Broberg has seven goals and 42 points. His 0.70 points per game in the AHL from ages 20 to 22 compare well to defensemen like Torey Krug (0.71 points per game), Tyson Barrie (0.69), and Timothy Liljegren (0.67) at that point in their careers, according to Elite Prospects. With a goal and 15 points for the Bakersfield Condors in 22 games, he's a top-20 AHL defenseman in points per game today.

    Is it inevitable that will translate to the NHL? No, it's not, or Broberg would be an important part of a contending team this season. That doesn't mean he can't be, though. Last season, Broberg looked well on his way to being that. Broberg was a positive both on Edmonton's goal-scoring and prevention in a bit under 600 minutes last season, where he managed to be worth 2.5 Standings Points Above Replacement (or SPAR) for the Oilers. 

    The possibility of getting him back to that level is worth betting on, especially when you look at the state of the Wild's defense. Currently, their only positive SPAR players are Brock Faber (3.0), Brodin (1.7), and Zach Bogosian (0.9). That's it. Everyone else is at or below replacement level. That means even if Broberg plays only at the level of an average AHL call-up, he's an upgrade for now.

    Then there's the upside for more. The odds Broberg lives up to his No. 8 overall draft status are slim. But if he doesn't cost a No. 8 overall pick or the equivalent, that's Edmonton's problem, not any other team's. If the Wild trade for someone like Broberg, they won't need to bother themselves dwelling on what he isn't. The only thing that matters is what he can do well and whether that can help the team.

    Say what you will about Chuck Fletcher as a GM, but this kind of post-hype sleeper trade used to be something the Wild excelled at during his tenure. The legendary Nino Niederreiter for Cal Clutterbuck trade stands out as the Ur example, but there were other savvy pickups. Acquiring former top prospect Guillaume Latendresse from the Montreal Canadiens worked out until concussions wrecked his career. Heck, Fletcher even got some decent miles out of former first-round bust Jordan Schroeder

    While we've talked a lot about Broberg, that's not the only name they can focus on. The Athletic's NHL Trade Board 3.0 has the Columbus Blue Jackets' Adam Boqvist as being available. While they list him as a "somewhat distressed asset" due to him often being out of the lineup for the Blue Jackets (of all teams), Boqvist still intrigues.

    Boqvist was once a top prospect (No. 8 overall in 2018). While he's older than Broberg, he also has a decent NHL track record. His 22 goals and 82 points in 193 games aren't anything to sneeze at, and neither is his 4.8 career SPAR entering this season. We even have enough sample size to see where he might be headed in his career. Evolving-Hockey has a list of similar skaters to Boqvist based on his previous three seasons:


    Count us as interested. Matt Dumba, Noah Dobson, and Thomas Chabot are his top three comparables, and that's a good collection of names. Combine that with solid production and numbers from Boqvist, and a change of scenery could unlock him, at least as a solid third-pairing offensive option behind Faber and Bogosian this season.

    The drawback (and likely the reason the Blue Jackets are out on him) is the defensive side of the puck. From the 2019-20 to 2022-23 seasons, Boqvist rates as one of the 10 worst defensemen at even-strength, which chips away at his value. If the Wild recently traded Calen Addison, are they that excited to get another defenseman who has defensive warts?

    Why not? While Addison didn't drive offense at even-strength, Boqvist was very, very good at it over the past four seasons. Evolving-Hockey rates his even-strength offense as 25th in the NHL over his first four seasons, which has him in the range of former Norris Trophy winner Brent Burns and Norris runner-up John Carlson. The offense is worth the trade-off, especially to a team desperate for puck-moving defensemen whose depth defensemen are already poor defensively.

    That's how the Wild can thread the needle. They could trade a third-round pick for a Dumba-type player. Maybe it would help. But trading a third-round pick for the equivalent of a young Matt Dumba? Or being able to bring in an NHL-ready defenseman that could be Jonas Brodin-lite for minimal assets? Balancing the needs of right now and the needs of the future, that's the good stuff.

    All data via Evolving-Hockey unless otherwise noted.

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    The bigger question is how to make that work in later seasons.  The Wild acted as a broker for other teams.  It got them decent to good depth (MoJo/Nyquist) for fairly little, and MoJo signed for very little term or money.  Spurgeon is most likely back next season, so I'm curious to see if a future player would stay on a new contract.  It'd probably be easier at defense than forward.  I think they have to be sure it's not just a depth piece, but something worthwhile.  Brodin and Faber are going to do what they are going to do.  Middleton is sneaky offensively and has size, but is it better to have more shots at a draft by being a broker again or just take the replacement now?

    I just hope Guerin waits it out and doesn't jump at any random player for a 1st or 2nd (The Fletcher method).  It'd have to be someone particularly good worth that sort of investment.  Maybe play chicken with other teams and see what they'd be dumb enough to give for cheap.

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    Looking at the measurements, I'd say Broberg needs to add bulk (who's surprised) to be more effective he was listed in the article at 6'3" 198. To me, that's simply too light for his height and would suggest he loses physical battles. The other issue is his LHS D. That's what we've got the most of developing.

    Boqvist is smaller at 6' 189. We could use another puck moving righty, especially while Spacek/Masters develop. However, I'd like him larger too. But, Boqvist gives us a little insurance if Spurgeon can't go. He would have 1 year left as an RFA and a change of scenery looks like it would benefit him. Perhaps he goes to Camp Ek for summer strength and training?

    To me, Broberg looks like the more controllable asset. His ELC ends this year, and I'd say he's due a bridge deal that is 2-way. This is precisely the type of player that needs to be able to compete for a spot and the Hunt and Lambos need to compete against. He could also use some time at Camp Ek. But, playing along side a guy like Jonas Brodin could help him develop. 

    Sometimes we don't take into consideration the influence other country's stars can have on younger players. Both Ek and Brodin are well respected in Sweden, and likely players these younger Swedes look up to. If they are on the team, they will listen to them. Both of those players might be a by low type of transaction on a very talented player. Both players have yet to hit their prime. 

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    Good article. I agree Broberg isn’t the answer. Right shot top 4 d is more important . Especially with spurgs future after surgeries. IMO the should be sellers no matter the standings . They’ve shown no ability to play with the top teams this year. 

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    54 minutes ago, TheNoogie said:

    GMBG with "house money" is scary AF

    But, as a caveat, the NHL has to manage the cap for him! I'd assume they simply don't have the....let's say imagination/creativity to circumvent the spirit of the cap as a real capologist would. 

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    Mentioned this in another article, but Yurov had another 3 point night last night, bringing his season total to 42 points. This would be a great time to signal to him that there is an NHL place for him on the roster next season! I'd think that adding him, Dino and possibly Ohgren would be a great boost to the roster, and who knows what Firstov could bring (either in his presence or in a trade). 

    Honestly, I'm not looking forward to bringing in a free agent next year, I think serious promoting from within will be the way to go. Adding on a couple of guys already here, like The Wall and Lambos and suddenly we are not one of the oldest teams in the league anymore. 

    So, what if Yurov can play center here and fits right in between Kaprizov and Zuccarello?

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    Speaking of trades...Faber-Fiala looks better now.


    "Los Angeles has dropped 12 of its last 14 games, and gone 2-7-5 since Dec. 28. They hold the first wild card spot in the Western Conference, but are only five points from dropping out of a playoff spot."



    Doughty is ripping his teammates publicly for playing for personal stats instead of wins.

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    Fiala looks like he's slumping right now too. I can't figure out what's wrong with LA at this point. They're getting solid goaltending. Brandt Clarke has been called up. Let's just say that Faber is having a significantly better season than Clarke is, however, Clarke is a year younger.

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