The Wild is contemplating trading a defenseman in advance of Saturday afternoon's NHL trade freeze.
Chuck Fletcher is "definitely actively listening" and has spoken to every other general manager in the NHL at some point in the past few weeks.
Fletcher has gotten "quality trade offers" for both Jonas Brodin and Matt Dumba, sources say. With Ryan Suter and likely Jared Spurgeon being two of the maximum three Wild defensemen who can be protected, the Wild may have determined that it would be more prudent to trade Brodin or Dumba rather than to risk losing one for nothing during Wednesday's expansion draft.
As of midweek, Fletcher said he had no prearranged trade consummated with expansion Las Vegas. If that's still the case, it's a risk leaving Brodin or Dumba exposed. Las Vegas could either select the exposed defenseman for itself or trade him to another team offering better assets.
One source Wednesday said the Wild has gotten strong offers, particularly for Brodin. On Thursday, TSN's Bob McKenzie reported that it was "more likely" that the Montreal Canadiens would trade talented forward Alex Galchenyuk now that they have acquired Jonathan Drouin from Tampa Bay. Drouin, not long after the deal, signed a six-year, $33 million contract.
The Wild, which has shown interest in Drouin in the past, has also shown great interest in Galchenyuk, sources say. McKenzie tweeted that Brodin was the type of defenseman Montreal would target.
The Milwaukee-born Galchenyuk, the No. 3 pick in the 2012 draft, has scored 89 goals and 204 points in 336 games, including 30 goals in 2015-16. The 23-year-old will warrant a significant raise from his $3.1 million contract as a restricted free agent. Wild forwards Nino Niederreiter and Mikael Granlund are also pending restricted free agents. So if the Wild was going to acquire Galchenyuk, even by unloading Brodin's $4.16 million annual price tag, it's hard to see how the Wild makes it work financially unless it's willing to trade Granlund, Niederreiter or Charlie Coyle at some point, or find a way out of Jason Pominville's $5.6 million cap hit.
If the Wild is going to trade Brodin or Dumba to any team before expansion, it must occur before 2 p.m. Saturday. Other than making deals with Vegas, a leaguewide trade moratorium goes into effect from then until Thursday morning.
Of his "big five D" — Suter, Spurgeon, Dumba, Brodin and Marco Scandella, Fletcher said: "I'd love to have all five of them, but four would be a pretty good position, too, particularly when you look at players like Mike Reilly and Gustav Olofsson, who I think are ready to take that next step. We still have Christian Folin and Nick Seeler, who was the most improved player in the organization last year. [Minnesota Duluth's] Carson Soucy is signed and turned pro.
"So we do have depth, but we have five pretty good D. I'd feel much more comfortable keeping four than three. I think whatever you do, you have to be mindful of that."
That being the case, if the Wild traded Brodin or Dumba, it could protect the other and then try to work out a deal with Vegas not to select Scandella.
"If you lose two and then get an injury in camp or next season, suddenly you went from five to two," Fletcher said. "So that's the risk in a trade."
However, Fletcher said that if a trade offer was enticing enough, he'd do it and "deal with the consequences," like having to acquire another defenseman.
Fletcher said Wednesday he had a pretty good idea of which players he would protect if he had to submit a list now. But, he then insinuated a trade.
"Things can change," he said. "We have until Saturday at 4 o'clock. There's no sense of putting the list in early. We may as well take all the time we can and why make a decision when we could put it off until the last minute? So that'll be our motto for this process.
"In my mind, I'm already pretty confident I know how we'll look coming out of [the expansion draft], and it's still a heck of a hockey team."