One day after the Montreal Canadiens acquired and signed skilled Tampa Bay Lightning forward Jonathan Drouin, all was quiet on the trade front, not just with the Wild but with every team in the NHL as of early Friday night.
If the Wild plans to make a trade before all teams have to submit their lists of expansion-protected and -exposed players at 4 p.m. Saturday, it must occur before 2 p.m., when a leaguewide trade freeze begins. After the moratorium starts, the only team the Wild can make a trade with until Thursday morning is the first-year Vegas Golden Knights, who, like the rest of the NHL and its fans, will learn which exposed players they will get to choose from at 9 a.m. Sunday.
Every NHL team will lose one player in expansion. Vegas' roster, as well as any trades it makes, will be announced Wednesday night throughout the NHL Awards Show from T-Mobile Arena on the Vegas Strip.
The Wild is one of the teams with the toughest protection decisions. GM Chuck Fletcher said earlier this week that the Wild will expose about a half-dozen players that he would prefer not to lose and that he has to keep reminding himself he can only lose one of them.
However, with the Wild expected to use the seven-forward, three-defensemen, one-goalie protection option, Fletcher is trying to ensure he doesn't lose some significant assets for nothing.
If one assumes the Wild plans to protect Ryan Suter (no-move clause, so he must be protected) and Jared Spurgeon, that means the Wild can only protect one from among defensemen Jonas Brodin, Matt Dumba or Marco Scandella. The Wild is considering trading Brodin or Dumba in order to effectively protect one and make sure it gets something significant in return for the other.
Sources say the Wild has received lots of interest in Brodin. The risk of not trading him before the freeze is that one of the interested parties could then swing a deal with Vegas to get Brodin if the Wild leaves him exposed and protects Dumba.
As of late Friday, sources said Fletcher was in trade talks with several teams, including Vegas, and had a few interesting options that were making him think. This could go right to Saturday afternoon's deadline. If the Wild doesn't consummate a trade by 2 p.m., it'll focus singularly on trying to work out a deal with Vegas during the Sunday-through-Wednesday expansion window.
The Wild can try to make trades with Vegas in exchange for not taking certain exposed players or in exchange for taking an exposed player from another team and flipping him to Minnesota.
One other wrinkle? If the Wild asked Jason Pominville to waive his no-move clause for the purposes of being exposed to Vegas and allowing it to protect an extra forward, the veteran winger had until 4 p.m. Friday to inform the club. The Wild wouldn't comment Friday whether it asked Pominville to waive, let alone if he agreed. Pominville could not be reached for comment.
If Pominville's no-move wasn't waived, trading a defenseman like Brodin for an experienced forward could be problematic since that forward would then need to be one of the seven protected.
Because they have no-move clauses, Zach Parise, Mikko Koivu and Pominville would have to be protected. That would mean the Wild could only protect four from among Mikael Granlund, Nino Niederreiter, Charlie Coyle, Jason Zucker, Eric Staal and Erik Haula, among others. Add an acquired forward to that mix, and the Wild would be exposing another quality asset to Vegas. The team was already having a tough enough time wrestling between protecting Zucker vs. Staal. It's believed the Wild was leaning toward the younger asset, Zucker.
A number of NHL teams have shown interest in Brodin, including, it's believed, Montreal, Tampa Bay, Dallas and Toronto. The Wild had been in trade talks with Tampa Bay about Drouin before he was dealt, and the Lightning is still seeking a defenseman.
The Wild has also had trade talks with Montreal regarding Alex Galchenyuk, but late Friday, a source close to the Canadiens was starting to doubt they would be able to acquire Brodin or Scandella, a Montreal native the Habs have also inquired about. The reason being, the source felt, was how complicated it would be for the Wild to add another forward needing to be protected. Also, trading Scandella would mean the Wild was still at risk of losing the exposed Brodin or Dumba in expansion unless the Wild knew it had a prearranged deal done with Vegas not to take the exposed defenseman.