The Minnesota Wild made some deadline trades to improve their odds at winning it all this spring. In the process, the Wild retained their top draft picks and top prospects. 

"I'm very happy about that. I was willing to use my 2nds and if guys like Reichel or Holloway needed to be added I would have done that for the right fit. My first rounder would have been hard to let go as I've never really traded one for upgrades in my entire time as GM of the Wild but I would have definitely considered it for the right player. It didn't come to that and I still added pieces that will help for sure. I'm done hoarding picks and prospects. It's time to try and win. It sucks giving up on the potential of some young guys I like and want to see make it, but I want to win now too."

The trade deadline for Minnesota started a month ago with the acquisition of Nico Sturm for undrafted prospect Cole Knuble. Sturm's blend of  mid 60s IT, high 70s DF, and high 50s low 60s PA/PC/SC is great for the bottom 6 and he can play multiple positions.

Over the last few days the Wild were busy working the phones.

Speedster winger Emil Bemstrom, inexperienced young NHL pro defenseman Jake Christiansen, and two top6 forward prospects drafted in the 2nd round Theodor Niederbach (2020) and Julian Lutz (2022) were sent to the Buffalo Sabres in return for pending UFA Vincent Trocheck. There was some criticism of the deal from outsiders looking in, but both GM of the Wild and Sabres felt this offer benefitted both teams.

"I was looking for a winger but the guy I targetted from an Eastern team was not moving. I pushed for that RFA aged winger. My offer was refused. I came back with a better package. Still got refused. I was going to make a final attempt but then Trocheck became available and I shifted gears. I got a player with better offensive skills. Trochek is not RFA aged but he'll likely become my loyalty. In the end I added some more beef to the lineup with Trochek and his offensive ratings. It's a big upgrade from rookie Trevor Zegras who is now on the left wing. We didn't want to be pushed around on the second line with Bailey and Zegras there. We added size and defense down the middle."

Continuing that trend of size and defense down the middle, the Wild popped their 'conditional pick' cherry by moving a 2023 6th rounder that becomes a 2023 5th rounder with an appearance in the 2nd round of the playoffs this season in a deal with the New York Islanders for soon to be retired forward Johan Larsson. Larsson is an upgrade on youngish forward Jake Evans on the 4th line. Larsson brings a bit more jam, a bit more defense and more offense. 3 of 4 Centres have 80 or more DF and all 4 centres have minimum 60 PA.

The trade for Larsson was a luxury addition and left the Wild with way too many bottom 6 forwards. "We had a 5th line of Bailey, Evans, Archibald on the pro roster. None of them would go through waivers. We can see a couple bodies going down to injury but 3 or more? I have farm guys I can use as well in Nathan Smith and Drake Caggiula. Somebody had to go. The one making the most money was the one. " The Wild completed their final deadline trade by moving Josh Bailey to the Vegas Golden Knights in return for a 6th rounder 2023.

"Bailey brings a ton of veteran experience and leadership. On top of that he's an excellent PK option. His passing is still high level but unfortunately for him there just wasn't room in the bottom 6 for him. He does not have the physicality we want and we decided to give him a better opportunity elsewhere. He still has pro roster value." Interested in Bailey was seen by four teams around the league and all offered up a 6th rounder. Attempts to squeeze a 5th were quickly shut down. Value was set by the market on this one even though the feeling by the Minnesota GM was he worth a bit more.

IN: Vincent Trocheck, Johan Larsson, Nico Sturm, 6th round 2023

OUT: Emil Bemstrom, Jake Christiansen, Theodor Niederbach, Julian Lutz, Josh Bailey, Cole Knuble, Conditional 6th round 2023  

There were some deals that never materialized however. Cam Talbot did not move at the deadline and will remain with the team until the end of the season. At this point it is unlikely he will return to Minnesota for 2023-2024. But he remains a highly rated 1B/backup which will be useful for the stretch run and playoffs. The GM is still thinking about giving up Mads Sogaard in the deal that got Talbot this past summer, but is left reassured by the great development of the best goalie prospect in the world Dustin Wolf, and the newfound opportunity of Daniil Tarasov thanks to NHL Columbus moving Korpisalo and Quick.

A late push for Kale Clague with a decent, but not sexy offer was made from a Western team, however, due to the year in which the pick was offered, The Wild opted to retain the young defender and pay him as an 8th Dman and re-evaluate his place in the lineup during the summer.

Final remarks from the GM:

"I have the best team I've ever assembled in this league right now. I hope we can do some serious damage and not waste the opportunity. I hope we have some luck on our side too. There are a lot of tough teams to beat in the west though."

"I've spent many seasons rebuilding this team. I passed many trade deadlines where I was shipping players out for picks and prospects. I had a lot of fun doing that. It takes time for these guys to develop. But to be the guy buying players and trying to compete and maximizing cap space to make win-now moves and improve the club...that's just so much more challenging and fun." 


Article: 32/5

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