Minnesota Wild: Trade Market Will Be Tough for Wild

The Minnesota Wild have been on a roll in December ridding their resurgent offense to a 7-1-0 record.  As the offense perks up it seems that the idea of adding a forward via the trade market might be less of a necessity, not to mention it’s more difficult than you think.

The Minnesota Wild have won seven games in a row.  Let’s say it again for effect…the Minnesota Wild have won seven games in a row.  They also have amassed 12 points in their last 13 games, so life is looking great as they now have sole position of 2nd place in the Central Division.  The chemistry of the team is coming to fruition and it looks like this current group of players could continue to make some waves.

The Wild are looking great in the defensive department as they lead the NHL in goals against (60), and goaltender Devan Dubnyk is the best netminder in the league.  Offensively the Wild struggled to find a groove early in the season losing a few games despite giving up three goals or less.  Lately though that seems to be better as the Wild have climbed into 12th in the league in goals for on the strength of 14 goals in their last three games.

It was thought by many around the team (including this writer) in November when the Wild only netted an average of 2.5 goals a game with a record of 4-5-2, that a change in the offensive make-up of the team was needed.  After all the prevailing logic was that if the players on the team now couldn’t muster more than maybe a new face or two was needed.

Dec 17, 2016; Saint Paul, MN, USA; Minnesota Wild forward Tyler Graovac (44) celebrates after scoring a goal during the second period against the Arizona Coyotes at Xcel Energy Center. Mandatory Credit: Brace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY Sports

Then December hit and the Wild’s offense turned a corner.  Thru Saturday’s game the Wild in the month of December have averaged 3.38 goals per game and are 7-1-0 with six games left to play in the month.  Not bad for an offense that seemed to be the Achilles Heel of the team, and now it seems like the group they have now might be enough to win down the stretch.

So the question as the team steams towards the March 1st trade deadline is do the Wild need or want to add any new faces to the lineup?  The quick answer is “yes of course” because why not continue to stack the deck for a playoff run.

But a closer look at it and you’ll start to ask questions about whether the chemistry of the team will be massively effected if you take a certain piece out to trade for another piece.  The idea being if the team is winning now why mess too much with it.

Dec 17, 2016; Saint Paul, MN, USA; Minnesota Wild forward Eric Staal (12) skates with the puck during the second period against the Arizona Coyotes at Xcel Energy Center. Mandatory Credit: Brace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY Sports

Also the price for players around the NHL is really high.  In a cap world that sees 19 of 30 teams with under $2 million in cap space, the premium and cost of players seems to go up and makes for a fairly stagnant market.

Moreover, when you want to bring in the high price difference making talent with little cap room like Wild would do, you have to trade back with equally or more high priced talent to make it work.  That means moving an important piece that could actually hurt or make for a zero sum game.

Great example of this phenomenon is the saga playing out in Toronto with James Van Riemsdyk.  There’s renewed rumors according to sportsnet.ca that Nick Kypreos is reporting.  According to Kypreos Van Riemsdyk’s name is “out there” and that the Leafs “will hold him at a premium, much like [Phil] Kessel, they think that rate of return could be out there for JVR.”

The Wild could really use JVR and his 22 points (12 goals and 10 assists) to make a run.  The issue being the cost of acquiring him which would cost the Wild multiple players and perhaps a high draft pick.  There’s just not a good scenario to pick up a player like JVR for a value.  With no cap space the Wild can’t just use draft picks and prospects, and with the Leafs’ position of power they won’t accept just any old player they’ll want quality to add to their rebuild.

So bottom line as we watch the Wild play well and think about how they can add to their arsenal, those thoughts will need to be tempered with the realities of the environment.  The likely answer now as it really has been for the better half of three seasons since the new CBA is that the Wild will have to make due largely with the team they have now.  Sure a trade can be made, but it’s going to be much harder and less blockbuster than you’d think.  Still if the team wants to play offense like this for the rest of the year a major change may not be needed or wanted.

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