About a month ago, my sump pump failed and my basement got water in it. About 40-50 gallons made its way around the floor and soon after discovering the water I spent the next 3-4 hours vacuuming and mopping up the water. Even though it was a Sunday I was fortunate enough to be able to contact a plumber and he arrived and replaced my failing pump. $367 later and as unfortunate as it was, it could’ve been much worse. Luckily for me the water was clean and most of what I have in the basement sits up off the floor meaning I had almost no furniture or anything of value come into contact with the water beyond a 10-foot Wild area rug which was easy enough to dry out. This to me sums up the general sentiment about Minnesota’s trade of Marco Scandella, Jason Pominville and a 4th round pick in 2018 to the Buffalo Sabres for Tyler Ennis, Marcus Foligno and a 3rd round pick in 2018
The Wild are losing a young two-way defenseman in the prime of his career and a veteran (albeit overpaid) top 9 winger for another underwhelming forward in Tyler Ennis who had 13 points in 51 games for a $4.6 million cap hit which is slightly less than the $5.6 million hit we had for Pominville for the same remaining term (2 years). One could argue that Ennis may benefit from playing on a better team, but still 13 points in 51 games from a guy who played in Buffalo’s Top 9 for over half a season is a bit of a head scratcher. Ennis has best friends since childhood with Wild defenseman Jared Spurgeon and the two Edmonton-natives train together in the offseason so maybe they hope that will soften the blow to one’s ego about being dealt. He is 27 years old, but he is coming off two injury plagued seasons in a row and when you consider his 5’9″ frame that makes one wonder if his body can really take the punishment of an NHL season.
Foligno is a rugged checking forward who doesn’t put up a lot of points but he is miserable to play against. He is 25 years old and is a restricted free agent where he made a little over $2 million per season a year ago. Some have wondered if the Wild will let Foligno walk, I don’t think so. The Wild were insistent Foligno be included and I think he is the bottom 6 gritty winger the team hoping will be a mainstay on the 4th line along side Chris Stewart whom the two should have some familiarity since they played together with the Sabres a few seasons ago. At 6’3″, 228lbs he brings size and while I know possession fans are none too impressed they need to consider who he played for and his role on that team.
Still, it hurts to lose Marco Scandella a player who I felt still had some unrealized potential but was also frustratingly inconsistent. Another concern is that Scandella was arguably the Wild’s most physical defenseman on a defensive corps which is pretty soft. At times you saw flashes of a poor-man’s Brent Burns but then you also saw a player who was also mistake prone and at $4 million the Wild simply could no longer afford him and still have the room to re-sign crucial RFA’s Mikael Granlund and Nino Niederreiter. I even have a game-used stick from what I believe to be Scandella’s 1st professional game (when he was playing for the Houston Aeros) so I wish him nothing but the best in Buffalo which will put him closer to his family living in the Montreal area.
As far as Pominville goes, his usefulness to the Wild was really tied to the amount of goals he was scoring and in my opinion there are some parallel’s in expectation and disappointment between him and another former Wild player, Mark Parrish. Pominville was more versatile than Parrish, being a serviceable penalty killer but he wasn’t so good at that you could forgive the fact he couldn’t manage to score even 15 goals in each of the last two seasons despite a fair amount of time in the Top 6 and on the power play. Now the former Sabres captain returns to Buffalo where it should be an interesting reunion. Heck if Ken Hitchcock can return to Dallas, why not Pominville to the Sabres?
Here is some of the reaction of Wild fans on Twitter and I think its safe to say that feelings are pretty mixed.
So now what?
The Minnesota Wild still are in need of a center, a 2nd or a 3rd pairing defenseman (preferably one with a physical element to his game) and most likely another goaltender to give competition to Alex Stalock for the backup goaltender spot behind Devan Dubnyk. With NHL free agency opening tomorrow I will guess we’ll see a few deals. The last two days have seen a number of teams place players on unconditional waivers for the purpose of a buyout including former Minnesota 1st round pick Benoit Pouliot as well as Matt Greene, Devante Smith-Pelly, Lance Bouma, Mike Cammalleri, Mark Stuart, Jimmy Hayes, Ryan Murphy, Antti Niemi and Jussi Jokinen which now join the list of unrestricted free agents. I wrote about some free agent possibilities here.
As fans, our team may not make all of the moves we want or wish for but at the end of the day the team didn’t just sit and wait and do nothing. Wild General Manager Chuck Fletcher didn’t part with more future assets (prospects or picks) to get him out of his current mess and thus making another problem for the future and that to me is a big positive. I really thought the Wild were going to have to sweeten the deal with picks and / or prospects to trade a toxic contract like Pominville’s so I’ll give him a stick tap for that. Will Tyler Ennis be able to stay healthy and return to his more productive form? Will Marcus Foligno be the gritty young player the team has always wanted but struggled to find for its 4th line? Time will answer these questions as well as how well Scandella / Pominville do with the Sabres as to who got the best of this trade. So as was the case with my sump pump, it was move I didn’t want to make but had little choice and at the end of the day I was happy it didn’t cost me anymore than it did.