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The Minnesota Wild Will be One to Watch at the NHL Trade Deadline

With a little more than two weeks before the NHL’s March 21 trade deadline arrives, we’re starting to identify more clearly which teams will be busy. At this stage, is there a franchise more in need of a trade shakeup than the Minnesota Wild?
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With a little more than two weeks before the NHL’s March 21 trade deadline arrives, we’re starting to identify more clearly which teams will be buyers, and which ones have assets to sell. 

And at this stage, is there a franchise more in need of a trade shakeup than the Minnesota Wild?

With only four points in their past nine games (2-7-0), the Wild have slipped down the Central Division rankings to third place, just two points ahead of the increasingly-dangerous Dallas Stars. And although the Stars have played one more game than Minnesota, the Wild will be hosting Dallas on Sunday before taking on the New York Rangers Tuesday Minnesota also has to square off against the Nashville Predators, Boston Bruins, Vegas Golden Knights, Colorado Avalanche and Pittsburgh Penguins before March is through. 

They’ve also got winnable games against Detroit, Columbus (twice), Chicago, Vancouver and Philadelphia this month, so Wild GM Bill Guerin will be under no illusions as to what his team needs to prosper in the post-season.

Right now, the Wild are missing injured defenseman Matt Dumba and struggling mightily on defense, but Minnesota not only needs to be a player in the trade market at forward to help their own depth upfront but also, to prevent Central rival Colorado from getting a marquee name via trade. CapFriendly.com projects that Guerin will have more than $10.5 million in salary-cap space to use by the deadline, and that’s more than enough for them to acquire a star such as Flyers center Claude Giroux. The Avs have been linked to Giroux for some time now, and while he ultimately controls his destination because of his no-trade clause, Giroux can likely be convinced to accept a deal to Minnesota if Guerin can do a good-enough sell job of the Wild’s situation.

In Colorado, Giroux would be a straight-up rental, and even then, Avs GM Joe Sakic likely needs a third-team to make it work under the cap. The Avalanche are projected to have $3.8 million in cap space at the deadline, which means they’d need to ship out some significant salary in any trade with Philly or persuade another team to absorb a portion of Giroux’s $8.25-million salary.

The Wild won’t have a lot of cap space to work with if they want to retain Giroux beyond this season. At the moment, they have 16 players signed for the 2022-23 campaign, and only $9.6 million in cap space. That said, Guerin wouldn’t hesitate to move around some pieces if he sees Giroux as a longer-term asset for his team. Minnesota wants to win now. Giroux can help them do that. And again, keeping him away from the Avalanche is crucial if the Wild intends to have a successful playoff run in this year or next year. An Avs team with Giroux is more or less an all-star group this season. An Avs team with Giroux signed next year would probably put even more standings space between Colorado and the next-best Central team.

But that is a little ways off. At present, the Wild have to worry about performing better immediately, lest the Stars vault over them and push them to the fringes of the Western Conference playoff race. They're not guaranteed a post-season berth by any means, and missing out on the playoffs would be a disaster. Guerin is under immense pressure to get the Wild to show progress, and right now, he looks like he’ll have to be a mover and shaker with a trade or two. So don’t be at all surprised if Minnesota makes trade headlines by or before March 21.

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