Longtime commenter Rocket fancies himself a hockey expert. At the very least, he’s a dedicated hockey fan. He has a modest trade proposal for the Wild that he is presenting here, to you — and it does make sense! The Wild even has the cap space to do it! Rocket?
Let me begin by acknowledging that I feel this way about what I am writing. Normally I am compelled to round up the villagers with their torches and pitchforks whenever I see that a Frankenstein monster of an internet weirdo, know-it-all sports fan, and ill-bred, spelling-challenged dullard proposes a trade that is intended to save his or her favorite franchise. In almost every conceivable case, I would rather be this guy’s photographer than read these inevitably insipid and unrealistic proposals.
And yet, here we are. I cannot help but join the ranks of those I despise because the two hockey teams I follow the most are both in desperate need of a change and each has something the other could desperately use. I am writing, of course, about the Minnesota Wild and the Carolina Hurricanes.*
Minnesota Wild: Mike Yeo can’t make the Wild’s goalies good. I don’t know how this is his fault. Like, okay Darcy Kuemper, a backup for the entirety of his young career, was your best option. And now people are like, “Oh no the sky is falling in the State of Hockey.” Well I mean, this is what you signed up for, yeah? They’re tied for eighth in possession numbers for the season, but their on-ice save percentage is three thousandths of a point above Edmonton’s. Hmm is it the team that’s bad or the goalies? Hmm.
The Carolina Hurricanes, on the other hand, are just bad. Edmonton Oilers bad. Hilariously bad. Forehead-slappingly bad. In desperate need of Connor McDavid or Jack Eichel, the Canes are destined to miss the playoffs for a sixth straight year.
Nonetheless, one bright spot for the Hurricanes this season has been the reemergence of goaltender Cam Ward. Injured and inconsistent for the past two seasons, many assumed that the Canes would do anything to unload the former Conn Smythe winner last summer, especially since he had two years left on a hefty contract. However, Ward has regained his form and has given the club many more chances to win then they have deserved this season. Having watched him quite a bit over the last handful of years, I can honestly say that I’ve found Ward to be underrated because he has had to shoulder a hefty burden for a generally atrocious team.
At this point, the structure of my proposal should be obvious. The Minnesota Wild need to acquire Cam Ward. He is back on his game and would greatly enhance the area of biggest need for the Wild. His cap hit of north of six million through next season, coupled with the fact that he is generally not considered one of the elites and some consider him injury-prone should keep the asking price closer to reasonable. As for the Hurricanes, they can shed salary, begin the rebuild in earnest, and give a good and loyal player a chance to win and not burn off the rest of his prime babysitting McDavid or Eichel.
I will not go so far as the rest of my mouth-breathing, internet commentariat, wanna-be general managers and suggest what the Hurricanes would want in return. I can only assume that it would involve at least one high draft pick and some young talent. Whatever the asking price, I imagine that it will make the average Wild fan at least mildly nervous about what would have to be conceded. But ask yourselves this: Is the prospect of what the team or an individual player could be in three years really worth what it could be right now if you subtracted the soft goals and lack of faith in the netminder?
*Don’t ask how I got involved in following the Canes. Just know that I am the kind of person who finds a strange and perverse joy in following a team that really shouldn’t be. I am an open and unashamed Caniac.