ST. PAUL, Minn. — Bill Guerin likes to go for it.
In Guerin’s brief time as the Wild normal supervisor, he hasn’t been afraid to make strikes, whether or not that was the Ryan Suter/Zach Parise buyouts or the Ryan Reaves deal earlier this season. And in the case of the Mar. 3 trade deadline, it would not be shocking to see Guerin take one other swing.
Guerin did so final yr, buying Marc-Andre Fleury, defenseman Jake Middleton and ahead Nicolas Deslauriers in separate strikes at the deadline. He made the trades as a result of he noticed his staff getting higher as the yr wore on and felt he might put them over the prime. It did not, as Minnesota misplaced in the first spherical, however Guerin nonetheless believes it was “price the shot.”
“We simply must weigh that, you understand?” Guerin mentioned. “Is it price it?”
With the Wild reaching their midseason level firmly in the third spot in the Central Division, forward of the Blues by 5 factors (with two video games in hand), how they do in the subsequent month or so will decide how massive of a purchaser they’re .
“I think the staff will inform me what course we’re gonna go,” Guerin mentioned Saturday. “Like if we’re flying excessive and we’re doing rather well, then we’ll speak about making strikes and seeing if we can enhance, or possibly we’ll simply keep the identical. I have no idea. If we’re not doing effectively, then we’ll have to speak about what to do with that.”
Guerin mentioned he does not like giving up a lot of belongings for leases, however that seems to be the almost definitely market the Wild can be in. They’ve obtained simply over $16 million in cap house for subsequent season and simply 13 gamers underneath contract, with the likes of Matt Boldy, Calen Addison, Freddy Gaudreau and Filip Gustavsson needing new offers. “It could be more durable to do this, to get somebody with future years (on their deal),” Guerin mentioned.
The Wild do have loads of cap house for this yr’s deadline — round $16.5 million estimated based on CapFriendly — to allow them to discover the many obtainable pending UFAs/RFAs on the trade market. They should not believed to be concerned with Bo Horvat or Brock Boeser or Jakob Chychrun, who was on the town Saturday with the Coyotes.
There are some larger names up entrance that will make extra sense, from pending UFAs Ryan O’Reilly to Jonathan Toews, though Toews or Patrick Kane would convey a hefty price ticket. There’s additionally Anthony Duclair (Panthers) and defenseman Luke Schenn. Guerin indicated a month in the past that Ryan Hartman’s return from damage might assist hit the pause button on any want for top-six assist. Sam Steel rising as the staff’s No. 1 heart has actually helped too.
“I’m fairly comfy with the place we are,” Guerin mentioned of the prime six. “(Hartman) has been a good match with that line and what he brings. I nonetheless suppose he’ll get higher as a result of he hasn’t been that lengthy. It takes greater than 5 video games to get again to true type.”
What Guerin additionally has to weigh is the affect of any trade on the dressing room.
“It’s powerful,” Guerin mentioned. “I feel that is the factor I fear about the most. I’m a massive believer in tradition and chemistry and things like that and it’s a must to take into consideration that. But you additionally must belief that the guys in the room are professionals and if there’s a transfer made then it is just for the good thing about the staff and you have simply obtained to maneuver on.”
Guerin’s transfer to accumulate Ryan Reaves earlier this season was very a lot a personality-driven trade, and it has labored wonders with the chemistry in the room. It’s not a coincidence that Minnesota is 14-5-2 since Reaves made his Wild debut.
“We have been flat,” Guerin mentioned. “There wasn’t that buzz, there wasn’t that vitality. It was simply flat. I do not know why, but it surely was. And he isn’t any individual that sort of lets that occur. He’s the identical man each day and it is excessive vitality. And he loves his job and loves being right here and coming to the rink and that is infectious… He’s positively an alpha male, and he brings a sure component to the staff that I feel everyone feels that he is of their nook.”
Guerin has trade chips to play with, from his first-round choose the subsequent few years to the eighth-best prospect pool in the NHL. Guerin talks about considering of the future too however acknowledged there could be a time when he’d go for it. Is that point now?
“It could possibly be,” Guerin mentioned. “But I do not know. Just being trustworthy, I do not know. You know what, the staff will inform me.”
The largest shock
I requested Guerin who or what was the largest shock this season. It did not take him lengthy to reply.
“It’s not that we did not imagine in him, we did, however I feel he performed exceptionally effectively,” Guerin mentioned. “I feel the first 4 video games of the season, neither goaltender had good outings. But I feel as we moved alongside, he wasn’t getting the wins or outcomes, however he was nonetheless enjoying effectively and there was one thing there. And I feel now that he is gotten a lot extra comfy right here in Minnesota and with the manner we play and whatnot, he is aware of what to anticipate each night time. He’s actually been incredible.”
Gustavsson is 10-6 with a 2.17 goals-against common and a .925 save proportion. He’s received 9 of his final 11 begins, permitting two or fewer targets in 9 of them. What modified from his days in Ottawa?
“I feel it is a mixture of a lot of things, however I feel the largest factor is he is gotten in form,” Guerin mentioned. “He wasn’t in ok situation earlier than. And while you’re not in ok situation, you get drained and also you’re sloppy and you do not play effectively. So I feel he is labored actually arduous to get in higher situation. And I additionally suppose that, you understand, he sort of embraced the new alternative he is getting.”
Guerin mentioned he has began the conversations with a couple of his gamers who will want a new contract this summer season.
Matt Boldy heads that checklist, as he is an RFA, alongside with Sam Steel, Mason Shaw, Calen Addison, Brandon Duhaime and Filip Gustavsson. Freddy Gaudreau and Ryan Reaves are each UFAs. The Wild solely have $16.3 million of anticipated cap house this summer season, and the precedence appears to be determining Boldy’s contract first to see what they’ve left.
For the Wild’s cap functions, they might push for a bridge to maintain the AAV down. It looks as if Boldy is open to a bridge or long-term deal, relying on the quantity. As for comps, the Boldy camp might attempt to use the William Nylander six-year, $45 million ($7.5 million AAV) or Kyle Connor seven-year, $50 million ($7.1 million AAV). Former USNDP teammates Nick Suzuki and Josh Norris had related factors per recreation once they signed their long-term offers, though they’re facilities. It would not be shocking to see an AAV in the $6-$7 million vary.
“I feel Matt’s a actually good participant. I do,” Guerin mentioned.”I feel Matt’s obtained a lot of means to make performs. We need him to shoot the puck extra. I feel he tries to get too cute at instances, however that is what playmakers do. You’ve obtained to reel them again in. This is a fancy league for only a few gamers, only a few, like three. Everybody else, you have to simplify and be a little extra direct. I feel Matt, when he is extra direct in his recreation, when he is utilizing his massive body, when he is capturing the puck, is at his greatest. The performs can be there for him.”
The Wild haven’t got a lot wiggle room in the coming years as a consequence of the comparatively flat cap and the truth they’re nonetheless dealing with buyouts of Zach Parise and Ryan Suter.
“I do not know if it will get grim,” Guerin mentioned. “We made these strikes and it labored. We’re higher. I do not care about the cap hits. We’re working the identical manner and it does not matter to us. We’re simply working with what we have and we’re making an attempt to make calculated strikes and bringing in guys like Sam Steel. Sam’s labored out actual effectively this yr. Gus for Cam Talbot. It’s a massive saving and we have not misplaced something. We have to simply proceed to do stuff like that.”
The Wild have obtained calls on defenseman Matt Dumba, who is probably going in his final yr with the Wild as a pending UFA with a $6 million cap hit. There are studies the Oilers and Senators have an interest (Ottawa GM Pierre Dorion was at a current Wild recreation).
“I’m not actively buying him,” Guerin instructed The Athletic Saturday. “It must be one thing that works extraordinarily effectively for us.”
If the Wild transfer Dumba by the Mar. 3 deadline, it will not be for futures like a choose or prospect. Guerin mentioned they would want to get one other defenseman again in the deal. For as a lot criticism as Dumba receives from followers, he is nonetheless enjoying of their prime 4, partnered with Jonas Brodin. He’s additionally on their penalty kill. Prized prospect Brock Faber will not be obtainable till mid-April if he leads the University of Minnesota to the Frozen Four.
The level is that Guerin feels the Wild can compete in the playoffs this yr, so any transfer must assist them too.
The Goligoski dilemma
Veteran defenseman Alex Goligoski continues to sit down, and that doesn’t seem prone to change anytime quickly barring an damage.
And a trade, at least for now, is not in the works.
This has been a irritating scenario for Goligoski, who beloved returning to his dwelling state and signed a two-year deal (one yr remaining at $2 million AAV). But he desires to play. Goligoski has appeared in solely 17 video games this season, however one among them was his game-winning OT objective that galvanized the staff. You might inform how emotional that second was for Goligoski. I’ve requested him about his scenario lately, the stability between being blissful the staff is successful vs. the disappointment in not enjoying. “You could be each,” Goligoski mentioned. Goligoski mentioned he plans to simply work arduous and be prepared, and whereas he is been in communication with Guerin, there isn’t any trade request.
While it is simple to imagine that Guerin — a former teammate of Goligoski in Pittsburgh — would do him a stable and discover him a place the place he could be in the lineup, it is not that straightforward. The Wild haven’t got that sort of depth on protection, they usually’re one damage away from needing Goligoski to be a common once more.
“He desires to play,” Guerin mentioned. “The most necessary factor is that we contact base each as soon as in a whereas. I do know ‘Goose’ and like each different participant, he desires to play. But he is a good man and teammate, he isn’t disruptive. It’s arduous for (Evason) to sit down a man like that, it is arduous for me to see him sitting out. It’s hardest on him. We’re simply making an attempt to do a job, and sadly, a good man like him is taking the brunt of it. It stinks.
(Top photograph of Bill Gurien: Bruce Bennett / Getty Images)