The past season was quite the roller coaster ride for the Minnesota Wild and their fan base, as they started off the year with one of their best players, Zach Parise, on the sideline. The season was full of ups and downs, though the Wild finally clinched a playoff berth, only to be eliminated in five games in the first round by the Winnipeg Jets.
There was another significant change to the emotional year as general manager Chuck Fletcher was fired by the club earlier this week. However, while the GM position is currently vacant, Wild insider Michael Russo reveals in his latest mailbag on The Athletic, that the new general manager will have a lot of his plate once he goes in office.
Asked about which current Wild players could have the most trade value if the new GM opts for a major rebuild, Russo suggests Jason Zucker, Charlie Coyle, Nino Niederreiter and Jonas Brodin as the best trade baits for the team.
"Currently, I’d say Jason Zucker because of the speed and skill, but I personally think it’s dangerous trading him. I’d think Coyle, Niederreiter and Jonas Brodin are three guys that the new GM will be hearing from others about. And remember, Leipold wants this team to win now, so I’d think any trade would have to be for roster players in return, not picks and prospects. The danger there is the core of this team has always shown the ability to get Minnesota in the postseason. So if you tweak too much, you could potentially be taking a step back."
It could be a good idea to clear Coyle's $3.2 million cap hit to possibly alleviate pressure to make other changes to the roster. He couldbe targeted by teams that are seeking skilled depth at forward.
Russo was also asked if this was the right time for the new Wild GM to shop center Eric Staal, who’s coming off a 42-goal season and was simply amazing to watch all year long. While Russo would be hesitant to trade Staal, the new GM could get a significant return and decide to pull the trigger. Staal has a year left on his contract at a $3.5 million cap hit with a modified no-trade clause. His trade value might have improved, but there’s no certainty he’ll be traded this summer.
Russo doubts the Wild will get into the bidding for New York Islanders free-agent center John Tavares, citing in part the Wild’s need to shed considerable cap space to sign him. Trades could be enough to bring in the right players to turn things around in Minnesota for the Wild to make it further in the postseason next spring.