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Game of the Week: Wild at Stars, 7:30pm today, FSN
It's the first game of the new-look Wild. Matt Moulson will be on the ice for Minnesota, and can start proving himself worthy of what his new team gave up for him. Until then, though, we have time to argue about the trade - and for me to tell you that the Wild gave up too much.
Torrey Mitchell, I don't consider too much; he was a third-line forward that ended up struggling on the fourth line, and if nothing else, it was a mercy trade, a chance for Mitchell to start over fresh. His departure also gives the Wild their second-best benefit of the trade - a chance to take Mitchell's $2.5 million salary for next year off the books.
Mitchell leaving is more or less a wash with Cody McCormick, the tough-guy forward who is likely to replace him at the bottom of the Wild lineup. But it's the two draft picks - a second-rounder this year, a second-rounder in 2016 - that make me wonder if the Wild got the raw end of the deal.
If all goes very, very well, Moulson will score eight, perhaps nine goals in a Wild uniform. He is a free agent when the year is up, which - given the Wild's position in the standings - it is likely to be after one round of the playoffs. Minnesota will likely have to play St. Louis or Chicago in the first round, and Moulson or no, they'll be heavy underdogs to either.
Second-round draft picks aren't exactly the crown jewels of the hockey kingdom, but neither are they worthless. The second round is where teams find second-line forwards and second-pairing defensemen, late-blooming goaltenders and future Selke Trophy winners. All draft picks carry the risk of being busts, of course, but the higher you go, the lower the chance.
So here's the trade: two future top-nine forwards for nine goals and $2.5 million, and an ever-so-slightly-increased chance of not exiting this year's playoffs immediately. That seems like a lot of future to give up for a little bit of present, which is the type of trade that Doug Risebrough always used to make -- which is part of the reason that Chuck Fletcher has been frantically digging in the prospect ditch for his entire tenure as general manager.
In other words, I wish the Wild hadn't made this trade. But I also hope that they'll prove me wrong.
What else to watch this weekend
11:25am today: Chelsea vs. Tottenham (NBCSN). Chelsea need a win to stay atop the league; Tottenham need a win to revive their chances of finishing in the top four. It's a game between a team with everything to lose, and one with everything to gain; now, can Tottenham actually score a goal, for once?
Noon today / 7pm today: State hockey championships (Channel 45). There's a short list of events that rise to the level of "cultural touchstone," that are the kind of event that you can ask others about, whether you know they're a hockey fan or even a sports fan. This is one of them. I recommend that you watch.
12:05 Sunday: Twins vs. Phillies (FSN). I'm going to keep putting baseball on the watch list until it warms up around here. Just one 65-degree day. That's all.
What to read this weekend
Kyle Wagner of Deadspin went to the Sloan Sports Analytics Conference, and came away with the truth about the current state of sports analytics: there's great, useful data out there. But people are keeping it to themselves.
The Wild just acquired the ultimate lightning in a bottle, awesome, crazy, weird goalie.
Ilya Bryzgalov could play five games in his Wild career and never stop a puck. He could take over in the playoffs and lead them to a Stanley Cup title. Neither would surprise us.
But before we think about all that, let's lay low for a little while and mellow out. Let's think about our place in this big, big universe ... and let ol' Ilya enlighten us all about how much it all really means. Stop a puck? Miss a puck? Does any of it matter?
Commenter Rocket writes a weekly feature on hockey so we don't have to. As usual, the opinions expressed here are not necessarily those of RandBall or the Star Tribune. Or the Wild. We look forward to a vigorous debate in the comments. Rocket?
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