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  • Wild Address Penalty Kill With Four-Year Deal For Yakov Trenin

    Image courtesy of Matt Krohn-USA Today Sports
    Tony Abbott

    As free agency dawned, most people assumed the Minnesota Wild's No. 1 priority would be signing a top-six wing to address their secondary scoring. That scoring winger may still be coming, but it wasn't the first thing Minnesota locked down on July 1. Instead, they signed depth winger Yakov Trenin, whom the Wild signed Monday morning to a four-year deal with a $3.5 million annual average value (AAV).

    Trenin, 27, has ties to the Wild organization: John Hynes coached him in Nashville. Arguably, his most productive season came under Hynes, when he scored 17 goals and 24 points in 80 games in 2021-22.

    Make no mistake, though, the dozen or so goals Trenin scores each season are secondary to his game. His true strength is as a penalty killer, an area of his game where he can claim to be one of the NHL's best. Over the past three seasons, Trenin ranks 21st among forwards by providing 3.0 Goals Above Replacement (worth about a point in the standings) with his penalty-killing alone, tied with the likes of the Calgary Flames' Blake Coleman and former Wild center Connor Dewar.


    As you might recall, Minnesota's penalty kill has been a near-constant thorn in their side for most of the Bill Guerin Era. There have been seasons of competence, but those successes are immediately followed by regression, with last season's being the worst yet.

    Here are the Wild's league rankings in each year since Guerin took over as general manager:

    2019-20: 25th (77.2%)
    2020-21: 12th (80.7%)
    2021-22: 25th (76.1%)
    2022-23: 10th (82.0%)
    2023-24: 30th (74.5%)

    Overall, it's a mediocre showing (23rd in NHL, 77.9%), and opponents have magnified their flaws further in the postseason. Among the 27 teams with postseason games in the past five years, only the Arizona Coyotes (nine games in the 2020 COVID bubble) and Los Angeles Kings (who constantly play the Edmonton Oilers in Round 1) have fared worse than Minnesota. Their 72.6% postseason penalty kill over that span easily cost them winnable series against the St. Louis Blues in 2022 and the Dallas Stars in 2023.

    The Wild signed Trenin to patch up those flaws. To his credit, he rarely gets scored on while short-handed. Here are the top-10 players in the NHL (among 183 forwards with 250-plus 4-on-5 minutes) in terms of goals surrendered per hour since Trenin entered the NHL:

    1. Teuvo Teravainen, 4.25 GA/60
    2. Trevor Lewis, 4.42
    3. Vincent Trocheck, 4.46
    4. Garnet Hathaway, 4.81
    5. Jesper Fast, 4.86
    6. Sebastian Aho, 4.88
    7. Patrice Bergeron, 4.96
    8. YAKOV TRENIN, 4.97
    9. Josh Bailey, 5.04
    10. Brock Nelson, 5.12

    That's great company, but it doesn't come without a red flag. Most of those penalty kill minutes were with one of the top goalies in the NHL, Juuse Saros, backstopping him. When you look at expected goals, he surrendered 7.51 of those per hour on the ice, ranking a much more middle-of-the-pack 98th in the NHL. That suggests Saros may have been saving his bacon more than the goal totals suggest.

    Minnesota will have to hope that Trenin's size (6-foot-2, 201 lbs.) and speed lead to fewer chances than expected goals suggest. They'll also have to rely on him defensively at even strength, and the Wild's system always seems to plug in players like Trenin and lift them to new heights defensively. 

    The Wild are also trying to get back to the identity they want to have: a team that plays hard and pairs skill in the top-six with relentless forechecking in the bottom-six. Marcus Foligno told the media at the end of the season, "It felt like we didn't have that energy. It felt like there was a sag, a little bit of a 'Poor Me'-type vibe when goals would go in. That wasn't usually the case in seasons before." Guerin and hope Hynes that Trenin's size and jam will help Minnesota restore that attitude.

    The Wild paid a fairly big fee to sign Trenin. At 27, he has age on his side, but his $3.5 million cap hit represents Minnesota's massive, long-term commitment in their bottom-six. They'll pay Trenin, Foligno ($4 million AAV), Ryan Hartman ($4 million), and Freddy Gaudreau ($2.1 million) a combined $13.6 million through 2026-27. In 2027-28, that bottom-six commitment will drop to $9.6 million after Hartman's deal expires.

    Instead of filling those roles with team-friendly deals, the Wild again splurged on a role player in terms of money and term. Granted, Trenin fits a very important, specific need for Minnesota on the penalty kill, but he'll need to be much more than a specialist to fully justify the expense. Teams can always find penalty-killers at the trade deadline. That's exactly what the Colorado Avalanche did when they acquired Trenin last year.

    Rounding out the news of the day, for now, the Wild signed Travis Boyd and Devin Shore, both to two-way deals. Boyd, 30, most recently played with the Arizona Coyotes, drawing in for just 16 games last year with two goals and eight points. In his previous two seasons, he scored 15-plus goals and 30-plus points but rated among the worst defensive players in the NHL.

    Shore, 29, split time between the Seattle Kraken (a goal, four points in 21 games) and their AHL affiliate in Coachella Valley (seven goals, 25 points in 39 games). He spent the past three seasons with the Edmonton Oilers and never drew in for more than 50 games. He figures to be a true 13th forward/minor-league option for a Wild team that lacked depth last year.

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    12 hours ago, OldDutchChip said:

    i agree with that. Midds is signed for next 5 years. He is slow, not that physical, but yet he got a raise from 2.45 all the way to 4.35. I understand inflation and cap raises, but i wouldn't mind knowing who were we betting against in each case - Midds and Trenin. It's consistent with all our previous extension. Signed too early, signed for too much, and blocked any sort of escape clause. 

    Ya, a couple of things you have to wonder about, why sign Mids on the 1'st day of free agency with a year left on his contract and if he could've waited a day on Trenin and maybe drove the price down some.

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    2 hours ago, Willy the poor boy said:

    Ya, a couple of things you have to wonder about, why sign Mids on the 1'st day of free agency with a year left on his contract and if he could've waited a day on Trenin and maybe drove the price down some.

    Considering how much activity there was right away, if you had someone you specifically wanted, it was probably best to make a move yesterday.  You wait a day and that person could easily be gone.

    Middleton though, I tend to agree with you.  I really doubt Middleton drives his value up during the season, so why not wait and see whether you want to commit and what else your options are?

    Edited by raithis
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    I get that, but I also wonder what the GMs and coaches see that we don't.  They don't re-sign Middleton for so long if they think Hunt, Lambos, etc. are ready made obvious replacements.  Faber from day one proved he was good, and then exploded to where he is now.  Some guys never do.  I couldn't tell you anything Hunt did last year when he got in games that made him any more noticeable than a Mermis.  At best, he was Mermis, but not as bad as Goligoski.  What did Beckman or Walker ever do on their stints (4th line limited minutes sure) to say, "God, we gotta keep them?"

    I just listened to Russo and LaPanta's rundown of the Trenin thing.  Russo seems to think you gotta let players play and churn the lower guys out because they price themselves out.  It makes sense...but what if the 3rd/4th line guys are just expendable quality anyway?  LaPanta's point is, "Yurov and Ohgren are going to get opportunties in the Top 6 BECAUSE they are those guys."  Buium you hope is going to BE those guys.  LaPanta, for all his supposed homerism, has been consistent in saying, "You don't want MoJo in the top six?  Go fucking outplay him then!"  Addison stunk up the back end for a year, so they got Bogo instead.  They wouldn't have done that if Addison knew how to stop a puck.

    I think you can skirt the line and understand that not everyone you sign is going to be an NHL quality player.  For their faults, MoJo and Gaudreau have at least been veteran NHL depth and know what it takes to do that.  You hope you find better players, but you can't just give out favors to people who aren't good enough.  Beckman and Shaw aren't those guys.  Maybe Ohgren, Khusnutdinov, and Yurov are.  

    Edited by Citizen Strife
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    On 7/1/2024 at 3:58 PM, Jon said:

    Aside from a couple comments, I appreciate the maturity in this thread at the time of writing this comment. It’s a shitshow at the Athletic threads. If Wild Athletic fans were personified as a person, it’d definitely have a bipolar personality disorder

    Never read the comments in the Athletic or Star Tribune.

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    22 hours ago, Up North Guy said:

    Never read the comments in the Athletic or Star Tribune.

    I don’t touch the Star Tribune. In the Athletic, I follow different teams, all with different compositions. I actually find the Wild threads mildly entertaining. When things work out (like Rossi this year), it’s funny to see many people take an ‘I knew it all along’ stance lmao. Especially, if I remember what they’ve said before. Many will die on their negative hills though. It’s like reading a sports fan’s version of a housewives minnesota counties script.

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    On 7/2/2024 at 8:19 PM, Gritty.Not.Pretty said:

    I’m not under 50 in any category (that I can think of).

    Here's a few country bands:

    1) Hail Damage

    2) Pizza Hole

    3) Torque Bolt

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