Wild likely to stand pat at trade deadline
In acquiring veteran forward Brenden Morrow from the Dallas Stars last week, the Pittsburgh Penguins basically kicked off the conventionally frenzied period before the NHL trade deadline. Four days later, they might have essentially ended any big trade news by picking up 525-goal scorer Jarome Iginla.
Pittsburgh, which also added defenseman Douglas Murray in a span of four days, was aggressive and didn’t wait for Wednesday’s trade deadline, which many felt was going to lack big names and big deals anyway.
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The national view on this week’s trade deadline was that it would lack the immense activity that makes the day most interesting on the NHL calendar. The Minnesota Wild would likely fit with the lowered expectations of an active trade deadline, which comes Wednesday at 2 p.m CT.
Minnesota, winners of eight of the past nine games heading into Monday night against the St. Louis Blues, who acquired defenseman Jordan Leopold on Saturday, will likely take a more measured approach to the deadline. Wild general manager Chuck Fletcher could decide to stand pat with a roster that has gone 17-6-1 in its past 24 games to lead the Northwest Division with 14 games left in the regular season.
Speculation early centered around forward Pierre-Marc Bouchard, who was a healthy scratch for three straight games at the beginning of March. Now, Bouchard has found a home skating next to Matt Cullen and Devin Setoguchi on a highly productive second line and has 11 points in the past 10 games.
Like every team in the league, Fletcher could be looking for an added scoring punch. Once 30th in the league in scoring, the Wild are now 14th and leading the league in the category since Feb. 27. A veteran defenseman and veteran backup goaltender, depending on Josh Harding’s health, could also be on the wish list.
Just don’t expect Minnesota to be super active or get involved or mortgage the young prospects for a minor piece or a rental player. The Wild like their mix and might be afraid to break up a team that has meshed so well.
If Minnesota does get active, it very well might be a “hockey trade” that Fletcher talks about often, such as last year when the Wild traded Nick Schultz for Tom Gilbert in a swap of defenseman. Minnesota wanted the puck-moving ability of Gilbert and parted ways with the veteran, stay-at-home steadiness of Schultz.
Fletcher made a couple of his moves earlier. The Wild have made three trades since the season started. They sent enforcer Matt Kassian to Ottawa and minor-league defenseman Chay Genoway to Washington for a pair of draft picks. One of those “hockey trades” came earlier when Minnesota acquired veteran power forward Mike Rupp for Darroll Powe and Nick Palmeiri. Rupp has been a big part of a strong fourth line.
There will be more moves before Wednesday’s deadline. There might be more “names” rumored about. Calgary and Buffalo could continue their purge with names like the Flames’ Jay Bouwmeester, Miika Kiprusoff and Mike Cammalleri, and the Sabres’ Robyn Regehr, Ryan Miller and Jason Pominville likely to draw interest. Vancouver goaltender Roberto Luongo has been mentioned in rumors since last summer.
Other names that have circulated are San Jose’s Dan Boyle and Ryan Clowe, Washington’s Mike Ribeiro, Edmonton’s Ryan Whitney and Nikolai Khabibulin, and maybe even Dallas’ Jaromir Jagr and Derek Roy.
In the end, Minnesota’s surge to the top of the Northwest Division and firm place in the middle of playoff qualification could have Fletcher checking in but sticking with the strong group he’s already assembled.
Suspense, league-wide, could be lacking after Pittsburgh’s “all-in” moves last week.
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