Tomorrow, the Wild open up their post all star break schedule against the red hot Nashville Predators (Winners of 4 straight and 9 of their last 10). As they sit just 27 days from the February 27th (2 PM central time) deadline, the team currently holds a 24-18-7 (55 points) record, which is good enough to sit in the eighth and final playoff spot in the West. But, they are only one point in front of ninth place Colorado and three points ahead of twelfth place Phoenix. Clearly, this team needs to make some improvements.
So with some cap room, and some holes on the roster, here are 5 players (Sorry for you folks looking for Shea Weber or Zach Parise, this is a realistic list) the Wild could trade for as the trade deadline approaches:
Francois Beauchemin D (ANA)-The Ducks are on a tear right now (won 8 out of 10 going into the break), but can they truly dig themselves out of the hole they put themselves in to start the year. They are still 13 points behind Minnesota, and it has been made clear that no one on the roster is safe. Beauchemin leads the Ducks defenseman in goals (6), points (18), plus/minus (1), and average time on ice (25:48). If the Ducks hit another slump, look for Beauchemin to get moved as he is in the final year of his contract. The Wild need a veteran presence on the blueline, and Beauchemin can give them that and eat up big time minutes. Moving forward, he should be priority #1 for them.
Hal Gill D (MON)-Its a stretch to think Chuck Fletcher would go after Hal Gill. He is old (36 years old) and is seeing his role diminished (ATOI of 14:11 in January) on a underachieving team. He is not offensively gifted, but he brings experience and mostly solid defensive play (His -9 on the season tells me otherwise). Gill would be able to get better ice time here and could help mentor the young defenseman the Wild have on their roster. Gill is also in the final year of his contract, and would come at a low price due to his diminished role.
Ryan Suter D (NSH)-Friday it was announced that Suter would not sign an extension with Nashville during the season. So now Nashville has to decide if they want to keep Suter for the playoffs and risk losing him on July 1st, or trade him and get something in return. Should Nashville decide to move him, this is the guy the Wild should look at. An all star this year, Suter currently holds a line of 5-23-28 and is averaging 26:29 of ice time this year. The price for Suter may be more steep than Chuck Fletcher wants to go, so acquiring him this year could wait until July 1st. But it doesn't hurt to call now, does it?
PA Parenteau F (NYI)-Should the Wild determine that Pierre-Marc Bouchard and/or Guillaume Latendresse can not return to the lineup this year with their concussion symptoms, they need to go out and get a top 6 forward. Parenteau would fill that hole nicely. So far this year with NYI, he has a line of 10-33-43 and has registered 11 points in 12 games in January. He too would be considered a "rental"(A player in the final year of his contract) and will probably want to hit the free agent market in July due to his age (28). But nonetheless, the team should give him a look in case PMB or Gui can't return.
Vaclav Prospal F (CBJ)-Should the Wild need to get another forward, Prospal should get a good look from them. He was once a 20+ goal scorer in the league. But last year he was injured, and this year he plays for the worst team in the league. So his stats have taken a hit. But he would be a good fit for the Wild in their top 6, while also bringing some good playoff experience (9 seasons of playoff hockey for Prospal). It is pretty much a guarantee Prospal will be moved, due to the lack of winning in Columbus. So why not give him another chance at the postseason in Minnesota?
UPDATE: I just was informed that Beauchemin signed a three year extension with Anaheim last week. So it would appear he is off the trade market. So you may disregard him on this list.