Technology makes our lives easier, but access to technology is uneven throughout the world and most of us fortunate enough to live in the United States seldom have to part-ways with its advantages unless we choose to do so. Case in point, I was on vacation a few days ago up in the arrowhead of northeastern Minnesota along with my wife where the internet connection is about as strong as a wet noodle is rigid. So no real internet to speak of (and in full disclosure I left my laptop at my parents house intentionally because its a vacation), no big deal we’ll listen to the unfolding events during our drive on XM radio’s NHL Home Ice network. Within 35 seconds we get to hear of a deal between the Minnesota Wild and the Vegas Golden Knights.
We both listened intently as they explained the deal which included the team shipping then-restricted free agent Erik Haula to Vegas along with 2014 1st round pick (16th Overall) Alex Tuch to the Golden Knights in exchange for a 3rd round pick in either 2017 or 2018 (depending on whether Vegas acquires more 3rd round picks and if they do we get the 2nd highest 3rd rounder they have). On the radio instead of the Wild receiving a 3rd round selection, they said the Wild had given Vegas a 1st round pick in 2018 or 2019 plus Haula and Tuch, I was incensed. After hearing the Vegas Golden Knights’ beat writer Steve Carp and the XM’s Steve Kouleas start talking about how this was a good deal for Vegas I shut the radio off as I didn’t want to hear anymore of it. The Wild sounded like they got fleeced horribly, and a few hours later at the Gunflint Tavern in Grand Marais, Minnesota I drowned my frustrations in a few tasty IPA’s and didn’t give it much more thought. I decided to wait until I returned back to suburbs of the Twin Cities the next day and return of my access to a decent internet connection to see precisely what went down.
Thankfully it was just Haula and Tuch to Vegas, and it was an ok consolation prize in having a 3rd round pick coming back our way as well compared to how I heard it described on the radio a day before. So before I analyze this trade and its meaning let’s examine what the Wild lost.
Erik Haula was arguably the team’s best penalty killer and his speed made him an ideal shutdown forward to match up against our opponents most dangerous and fastest players (i.e. Tyler Seguin, Nathan MacKinnon, Connor McDavid, etc.) which wasn’t the biggest surprise as it was unlikely we were going to be able to afford him with just $13.4 million in cap space to work with for the 2017-18 season. We know we have to resign fellow RFA’s Mikael Granlund and Nino Niederreiter so that will eat up most of cap room is left. Losing Haula sucks, as he was an terrific bottom 6 center who could chip in offensively (with a penchant for scoring in the clutch with 4 game winners to his credit last year) and in my opinion was ideally suited to playing in 3-on-3 overtime. I also think he was a player who could perhaps thrive if given more opportunity and while that didn’t work out in a few very short experiments here I could see him really taking off in Vegas.
The other loss is former 1st round pick Alex Tuch. Tuch got in 6 games with the Wild and didn’t register a point but in my opinion his loss is bigger than most fans realize. Much has been made of the team’s relative prospect depth at forward with Luke Kunin, Kirill Kaprizov, Joel Eriksson Ek and Jordan Greenway in its prospect pool but Tuch was sort of the forgotten asset we had quietly developing in Iowa most of last season. The Iowa Wild had its best season since it arrived to Des Moines in 2013, but it still managed to miss the American Hockey League playoffs. Tuch led Iowa in scoring last season with 18 goals and 37 points in his first full season as professional. He was a good soldier and didn’t complain about spending his time there and was there best player most nights. There was a fairly good chance he would’ve made it to the big club this season, so losing him means losing a 6’4″, 222lbs winger who was close to being NHL-ready. No doubt that near NHL-ready factor probably played a role in Vegas being willing to accept him as a parlay to avoid taking other players the Wild coveted. Although perhaps Tuch’s departure isn’t so bad as KFAN‘s Brandon Mileski and Pat Micheletti mention on their Beyond the Pod podcast here. I also hope Jordan Greenway paid attention to this move as it makes his size and skill set a bit more exclusive in the organization.
So what else should Wild fans expect?
I expect Wild General Manager Chuck Fletcher to trade one or dare I say two of his coveted troupe of young and young-ish defenseman in Mathew Dumba, Marco Scandella and Jonas Brodin. While it may make members of Hockey Wilderness want to lynch me for suggesting the team deal away Dumba, the truth is he is a very attractive asset and could very well bring about the best return. Scandella and Brodin have been good soldiers and are both on $4 million+ (per season) deals that last the next 3 seasons or more and if the team dealt either of them it would get a fair amount of cap room to try to make more meaningful adjustments to the roster.
Brodin has kind of become the Wild’s version of Rasputin in regards to trade speculation, having been involved in nearly every possible deal going back to the Ryan Johansen trade. So as much as it seems like Brodin won’t be in a Wild uniform much longer he manages to stick around, so don’t be surprised if he’s still here once this latest league trading frenzy is over. Afterall, the team chose to protect Brodin over both Dumba and Scandella for this year’s expansion draft. Reading comments made by Fletcher to the Minneapolis Star Tribune where the team now may look to deal some of those assets they took such a great effort to protect.
I can see pro’s and con’s for either keeping or moving a defenseman or two. The Wild have also stated they feel that Mike Reilly and Gustav Olofsson (both are RFA’s) could play next season although I don’t think either are close to being an even replacement for any of those young-er defenders listed above. It is a simple reality of being in a salary cap league, so at some point teams have to give a chance to a cheaper prospect and now its probably the Wild’s turn. Either way, I would be very surprised if Dumba, Scandella and Brodin were ALL back for the start of the 2017-18 season.
Either way, it should be an interesting weekend. We will have you covered for the draft and free agency starting in July! What do you think will happen? Send us a message on Twitter @CreaseAndAssist or in the comment section below!