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The Minnesota Wild: What’s gone wrong this season and who might get moved

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Photo credit:Brace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY Sports
Ryley Delaney
1 month ago
Ah yes, the Minnesota Wild — a team that’s been trapped right around the middle since their debut over two decades ago. This year is no different, as the Wild sit 12th in the Western Conference and appear poised to sell off some pieces ahead of the Trade Deadline.
This is a series called Meet the Sellers. As the Edmonton Oilers are in a “Stanley Cup or Bust” year, we’re going to look at the teams who have no other aspirations this season other than adding some prospects and picks and jockeying for a better position in the 2024 Draft Lottery.
Before exploring the wilderness, let’s take a look at some of Edmonton’s needs. We’ll be ranking them from the most needed to the least needed.
Second-pairing right-shot defenceman: Once again, Cody Ceci isn’t a bad player by any means, and he’d be a top-four defender on most teams. However, if the Oilers truly want to upgrade their defence, adding a puck-moving right-shot defenceman to play with Darnell Nurse would be a massive upgrade.
Second-line winger: Edmonton’s second-line has been centred by Leon Draisaitl throughout most of the season, but he’s had a merry-go-round of wingers, such as Warren Foegele, Evander Kane, Ryan McLeod, and even Connor Brown. Draisaitl needs a legitimate scoring winger to play alongside him.
Right-shot defenceman depth: Last season, the Oilers had Jason Demers in the American Hockey League as a backup plan if a right-shot defenceman got injured. Thankfully, the Oilers remained relatively healthy that season and have barely missed any games from their defence this season, but they don’t have a veteran right-shot defenceman in the minors this year.
Competent backup goaltender: Stuart Skinner has had an okay year this year but has a .863 save percentage over his last five games. The stats don’t tell the story, and he hasn’t been terrible, but trading for a 1B-type goaltender to take some starts away from Skinner will keep him fresh for the playoffs.
Third-line centre: This one is dependent if the Oilers decide to play Ryan McLeod in the top six. If they do, that leaves a significant hole for their third-line centre. It could be filled by a guy like Adam Henrique.

Who could the Minnesota Wild sell:

The Wild fired head coach Dean Evason after getting out to a 5-10-4 start to the season. They’re 21-14-2 since hiring John Hynes as his replacement but there are quite a few teams for them to jump over and get into the playoffs. Over the next two weeks, if Minnesota can’t make up some ground, they’ll likely look to recoup some draft picks and prospects.
Patrick Maroon is a former Oiler, but doesn’t really fit anywhere on the 2023-24 iteration of the team. Maroon has four goals and 16 points in 49 games this season, far behind his career-high pace of 27 goals and 42. He does, however, bring a ton of playoff experience as he played in four consecutive Stanley Cup Finals from 2019-2022, winning the first three. Now 35, Maroon has a cap hit of $1 million, with 20% being retained by Tampa. Maroon also has a 16 team approved trade list, surely Edmonton is on it. After back surgery in early February, Maroon is expected to be out for 4-6 weeks, so who knows if he’s ready by the deadline.
Marcus Johansson once scored 24 goals and 58 points in his final season with Washington but has bounced around teams since then, including a second stint with the Capitals. This season, the 33-year-old left winger has eight goals and 25 points in 56 games and is on pace for 11 goals and 36 points. Johansson has a cap hit of $2 million until the end of the season along with a full no-trade clause.
Alex Goligoski has been around forever and is now 38 years old. This season, he has just nine assists in 30 games but is just two seasons removed from a two-goal, 30-point season. The left-shot defenceman would essentially be a depth defender at this point of his career, and he has a cap hit of $2 million with a full no-move clause. Goligoski will be an unrestricted free agent at season’s end.
Zach Bogosian is in a similar boat to Goligoski, as he’s also a veteran on an expiring deal. This season, the right-shot defenceman has a goal and nine points which is just about his career norm since 2019-20. Interestingly, he won a Stanley Cup with the Lightning that season and also went to the finals during the 2021-22 season. Bogosian has a cap hit of $850,000 and a 21-team trade list. He’d be great depth.
Marc André Fleury is the Wild’s best trade chip this deadline. The 39-year-old netminder has an .897 save percentage and a 2.96 goals-against average, but that may just be a product of some “meh” defence than Fleury himself. For example, Fleury had a .908 save percentage and a 2.85 goals-against average just a season prior, not too shabby for a goaltender approaching 40. On top of that, Fleury has a ton of playoff experience, reaching the Stanley Cup Finals five different times and winning it three times (twice with the help of Matt Murray). Fleury also won his first Vezina Trophy during the 2020-21 season, so he may be old, but he’s still good. Fleury has a cap hit of $3.5 million with a full no-move clause. Let’s get this man one more cup!

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