The Minnesota Wild are in an interesting position this coming NHL Entry Draft. They don’t have a bad team, certainly not a bad core. They just can’t seem to catch a health brake. Despite a rotating cast of well, every position they were thirteenth in goals against. They were fifteenth on the penalty kill as well. They just couldn’t stay healthy.
They’ve likely got a big crop of inbound rookies, including Charlie Coyle. They have depth at defense without a true stud, but do they really, really need one? As good as their defense, and when healthy goaltending are, they might not. The New Jersey Devils don’t really have an elite Norris level defenseman. So while adding Matthew Dumba or Ryan Murray to the team could hardly hurt the team, its arguable that the amount of help will be minimal.
Offense is definitely issues number one and three. Number two being durability. If I’ve got the call to make for the Minnesota Wild I’m not sure where I lean. It’s probably Yakupov will be gone at number one, even if the Oilers trade the pick. If he isn’t, he had two or three separate injuries this year, one of them to the knee. I think I’d have to look long and hard at any trade offers that were for an offensive talent who is willing to play three zone hockey.
The most salient question one can ask about what to do at the draft is: When do we feel our window is? If you believe it’s one to two years, trade for NHL talent now. I you believe it’s five years wide, well, you may still want to trade for NHL talent. But if you’re more interested in building a team that will play well for the next six or eight years regardless of if you get a cup or not, Grigorenko, Forsberg, Galchenyuk are not talents to sneeze at.
Assuming Hackett is the goalie of the future, the window is pretty wide. Backstrom has a few good years left (if healthy) and if Harding isn’t going to be retained this off season, his rights might be packed with a third round pick in exchange for an additional high second or depth player.
While I don’t think anyone in the top five can afford to pass over elite defensive talent, if there’s one team that can it’s certainly the Wild. If rumblings about a certain Minnesota born left winger wanting out of an east coast team are true it might be worth the first round pick just for the negotiating rights, especially since that team will either pick 29, 30 or not at all. Minnesota may be “the state of hockey”, but that doesn’t mean the fans will wait forever for contender or a winner.