New York Islanders

New York Islanders: Struck Out on Panarin, What’s Plan B?

The New York Islanders have lost out on the Artemi Panarin sweepstakes and quickly need to move to plan B. 

The New York Islanders went all out for coveted free agent Artemi Panarin this past week, but yet, it was not enough. According to Larry Brooks of the New York Post, The soon to be 28 year old Russian born star has agreed to terms on an $81.5 million dollar deal over the next 7 years with cross-town rivals the New York Rangers. The question now for the Islanders is “where do they go from here?”

Re-signings

The first thing that was expected and has seem to be finalized is a deal with the captain of the team, Anders Lee. Lee is coming off of a strong season, in which he tallied 28 goals and 23 assists in 82 games played. The Islanders needed to keep Lee on Long Island. If they failed to do so, the Islanders would have been in far worse shape.

According to The Athletic, the deal will be a seven year deal worth seven million per year. This is a good first step in trying to improve a team that desperately needs help in their top 6.

Aside from Lee, the Islanders have two free agents left. Anthony Beauvillier and Michael Dal Colle are restricted free agents and need to be re-signed. You can expect Islanders general manager Lou Lamoriello to look to get those contracts done in the next few days.

Trades

The next thing that eventually will go through the head of Lou Lamoriello is to use the trade market. The Islanders are not going to find much more offensive power through UFA’S so working a trade revolving around either Nick Leddy or Thomas Hickey to help the offense seems to be the best route to go. Players such as Jason Zucker and/or Mike Hoffman, seem to be skaters on the market that could instantly boost the top 6 of the team.

Offer Sheet

The final route Lou can take is the one that is more risky than any other route, the offer sheet. There are many RFAs that are out on the market.

With one offer sheet already being thrown out today by the Montréal Canadiens in an attempt to lure Sebastian Aho (Carolina Hurricanes) to the Habs, we could see more coming in the next few days.

The one player everyone has linked the Islanders to is Mitch Marner, but after the signing of Lee that seems to be nothing but a thought. Patrik Laine is another one out there that has not made too much progress with the Jets, but, as with Marner, he will be asking for a price that the Islanders do not have the cap space for. The only way that the Islanders can potentially pull it off is by making some trades and free some cap space up.

Lamoriello has a lot of decisions to make in the next couple of days, and slander fans will be eagerly waiting the news.

Stats from hockey-reference.com

Featured Image Photo Credit – Nikos Michals

You can follow the author of the post, Abin Boris on Twitter @abin_boris

 

Chatting With Harman Dayal About The Vancouver Canucks

Recently, I had the opportunity to speak with Harman Dayal of The Athletic Vancouver  (@HarmanDayal2

Dayal primarily writes about the Vancouver Canucks and uses quite a bit of microstats to help drive home his point.

In the interview with Dayal, we talked about various topics including who might be great off-season additions for the Canucks, the Canucks farm system, some of their RFAs and who the Canucks should look to trade. 

So, let’s jump in and see what Dayal had to say about the Canucks.

The Interview

Josh: When you look back on last season, what surprised you the most about the Vancouver Canucks? 
 
Harman: I think the outcome of the season as far as the Canucks missing out on the playoffs was rather predictable, but the way that the youth carried the team was really impressive. For one, for as good as Elias Pettersson was in Sweden the year prior, I don’t think anyone would have expected him to emerge as a near point a game centre. It’s a massive boon for the rebuild moving forward for Pettersson to be the face of the franchise type number one centre that every contending team has. Bo Horvat had arguably the toughest deployment of any centre in the league and continued the development of his two-way game while posting a career high 61 points. Brock Boeser fought through injuries, but was a consistent scorer when in the lineup.
 
Josh: In one of your recent posts, Project Petey, Part 1: Impact players the Canucks can add right now by leveraging their cap space, you discussed potential targets for an offer-sheet. You discussed how Andre Burakovsky would be a good target. Do you have any concern about Burakovsky’s performance last season in Washington?
 
Harman: I don’t because Burakovsky’s production was suppressed in large part because he was marginalized in the bottom-six. He averaged just over 11 minutes per night and saw no power-play time. Looking at his 5-on-5 scoring rate per hour, he still produced at a clear cut second-line rate. I have no doubt that he’d rebound under better circumstances.
 
Josh: Do you believe that Jason Zucker would be a good fit in Vancouver? If you do/you don’t, can you please explain why.
 
Harman: Jason Zucker would be a great fit. He’s scored 20+ goals in three consecutive seasons and would likely be a 50+ point player if his tough luck from last year regresses and he plays with better centres than he did with the Wild. Moreover, Zucker is a phenomenal two-way play-driver whose value goes way beyond the points that he puts up. Zucker would legitimately elevate the play of someone like Pettersson or Horvat whilst also bringing the speed and transition ability that the Canucks so desperately lack.
 
Josh: Should the Canucks sign Josh Leivo or do you believe the Canucks might try to trade his RFA rights?
 
Harman: I think they should re-sign Leivo. Leivo might just be one of the most underrated Canucks because his value goes far beyond his offensive production. What gets forgotten is that when he’s on the ice he’s an excellent possession driver with his team usually doing much better at controlling shots, scoring chances and goals compared to when he’s on the bench.
 
Josh: Alexander Edler is a UFA this offseason. Should Jim Benning look to re-sign Edler? If yes, what do you believe his next contract might look like?
 
Harman: Jim Benning has no option but to pursue an extension for Alex Edler because there are no other viable options on the blue line to take the mantle as the team’s top left-handed defenceman. The stipulation in the negotiations will certainly be about expansion draft protection as I can’t imagine Vancouver would be thrilled about the idea of having to protect a 34 or 35-year-old Edler for the Seattle expansion.
 
Josh: Based on what you’ve seen from Thatcher Demko and Michael DiPietro, who do you believe will be the future number one goaltender in Vancouver?
 
Harman: Goalies really are voodoo and they’re quite tough to project. Demko likely has the better shot because he’s graduated to the NHL level and thus closer to the end point. Ultimately, goalie development is fickle and so only time will tell. It’s definitely good that they’ve got another top prospect in DiPietro.
 
Josh: How much do you believe that Brock Boeser will able to net in his next contract?
 
Harman: Boeser will probably be able to net something in the $7.4-7.6 million range on a six year deal based on past contract comparable.
 
Josh: Which Canucks prospect are you most looking forward to seeing in the NHL down the road?
 
Harman: I don’t know if I still get to call him a prospect because he had his cup of coffee this past season, but I’m stoked to see what Quinn Hughes will be able to deliver next year. He’s an electrifying skater who adds a much needed offensive punch to Vancouver’s blueline. I don’t think the city’s frankly ever seen a defenceman as exciting or with as high a ceiling as Hughes.
 
Josh: Recently, you wrote the post, Why the Canucks should sell high on Ben Hutton. Who do you believe would be a good trade partner for Hutton?
 
Harman: It’s tough to speculate on who’d be interested in Hutton as an outsider, but I figure you’ll be trying to target teams searching for left-handed defencemen. The Jets are one team who’s desperate for help on the left side. Ottawa and Boston have been previously rumoured to be interested in Hutton and if the Bruins move Torey Krug or if Zdeno Chara retires I could see them kicking tires.
 
Josh: Do you believe that the Canucks will look to lure Artemi Panarin to town? A line comprised of Panarin-Pettersson-Boeser could be the most dominant line in the NHL. Should Jim Benning look at making this happen?
 
Harman: I can’t speak for the Canucks interests, but I personally believe that they should be all over Panarin. I see him as a top-25 forward in the league and at 27 he’s definitely one of the younger UFAs in recent times. Anytime you can add a player of that calibre without giving up anything but cap space you have to try and take advantage.

Thank You

Thank you Harman for taking the time to answer my questions on the Vancouver Canucks. Look forward to interviewing you again in the future.

Vancouver Canucks

Vancouver Canucks: The Case For A Jason Zucker Trade

Should the Vancouver Canucks pursue a trade for Minnesota Wild forward Jason Zucker?

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A few days ago, our very own Spencer Teixeira wrote a post on where might Jason Zucker be dealt. Teixeira suggested that the Colorado Avalanche, the Carolina Hurricanes and the New Jersey Devils would be great fits. But, the Canucks might be a good fit as well.

The Canucks desperately need depth on the wings. Their current wingers aren’t a great and are on the weaker end of the spectrum. The Canucks best winger is Brock Boeser, who spent the majority of his time last season with Elias Pettersson. Aside from Boeser, the Canucks have many top 9 wingers including Tanner Pearson, Loui Eriksson, Jake Virtanen and Josh Leivo. While Pearson, Eriksson, Virtanen and Leivo have value to the Canucks organization, most of them are playing in roles that aren’t the greatest fit. So, it’s time for Canucks general manager to arm his team with additional help on the wing.

Zucker would fit in quite well in Vancouver. While fans saw a decline in Zucker’s offensive productivity last season (21 goals and 21 assists in 81 games), he could still have a bounce back season and be a valuable asset for the Canucks franchise.

Let’s Look At The Charts

Plus, if you look at Jason Zucker’s wins above replacement (WAR) per minute in the chart below (created by Sean Tierney, data from EvolvingWild), you’ll see that had Zucker been on the Canucks last season, he would have had the third higher WAR per minute. Jacob Markstrom and Pettersson had slightly better WAR per minute rate than Zucker.

Primary Shot Contributions

In addition, the chart (created by Sean Tierney, data from EvolvingWild and Corey Sznajder) below shows primary shot contributions for the Minnesota Wild last season. By looking at this chart, you’ll see that Zucker not only had the most shots per 60 of the Wild team, but he also had a lot of primary assists per 60 (A1/60) as well. Aside from Eric Fehr and Mikael Granlund, Zucker had the third highest A1/60 for a winger in Minnesota. 

Primary Shot Contributions vs GAR

Last but not least, Zucker was one of the most effective Wild forwards in primary shot contributions versus goals above replacement (GAR). In the chart below (created by Sean Tierney, data from Evolving Wild and Corey Sznajder), you’ll see that Zucker had the best primary shot contribution numbers on the Wild and had a relative high GAR. 

Zucker Will Be Costly, But Rewarding

While it’s clear that Zucker would be a great fit for the Canucks, he’s not going to be cheap.

The Minnesota Wild aren’t going to let themselves get ripped off. They have the same data that I’m showing you. So, why would they let Benning and the Canucks front office take advantage of them?

Instead, Benning would have to most likely part ways with a high draft pick, a AHL prospect and a NHL ready asset. While you might consider that to be a decent amount to trade for Zucker, I wouldn’t. If you want offensive production, you have to pay for offensive production. Plus, just imagine Zucker playing alongside Pettersson and Boeser. That line could be lethal and would create one of the most dangerous offensive lines in the Western Conference.

stats from NHL.com, hockey-reference.com, EvolvingWild, Corey Sznajder

visuals from Sean Tierney

featured image photo credit – Nikos Michals

Minnesota Wild: Where Does Zucker Go, and for What?

Per the latest edition of Elliotte Friedman’s “31 Thoughts”, Minnesota Wild winger Jason Zucker is almost 100% going to be moved. The question remains now, where does he go, and what is fair return?

Does Trading Zucker Make Sense?

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The very uncomplicated answer is no, but nothing in the NHL is ever simple and thus the Minnesota Wild want to move this core piece. The Wild had also previously tried to trade the former 2nd round pick last offseason. Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman states:

“It would be a surprise if Jason Zucker [returned to the Wild] following last season’s aborted trade to Calgary. There’s always interest in scorers.”

Jason Zucker, 27, has recorded 118 goals and 214 points in 411 career NHL games. Over his 8 year career, Zucker has averaged a 50.4 CF% and 100.2 PDO rating while starting 50.9% of his shifts in the defensive zone. This essentially means that Zucker has been able to consistently, and effectively, produce while being tasked with significant defensive responsibility.

This past season, Zucker registered 21 goals and 42 points while averaging 17:05 TOI. With these statistics, Zucker can be compared to the likes of Anders Lee, prime Mikhail Grabovski, and Vincent Trocheck. Thus, Zucker is a valuable asset that provides a coveted two way presence.

Why Would the Wild Move him?

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The Wild, who entered last season as a consistent playoff team, seemed to exist in a cycle of internal conflict throughout the year. The team struggled at times despite the much needed renaissance of Zach Parise and good play of Devan Dubnyk, Ryan Suter, and Zucker. Head coach Bruce Boudreau reassured fans numerous times that the team will make the playoffs, but the moves made by new GM Paul Fenton suggested that the club will be moving in a different direction.

In January 2019, Fenton traded 26 year-old scoring winger Nino Niederreiter to Carolina for 26 year-old 3rd line centre Victor Rask and nothing else. The move was received poorly at the time, and remains one of the worst moves made this past season.

On trade deadline day 2019, Fenton traded #1 centre Mikael Granlund to Nashville for middle-six winger Kevin Fiala. Both players disappointed when they arrived, but the reputation of Granlund as a 50-60 point centre trumps that of the 40ish point winger Fiala.

In both moves, the Wild sacrificed the better player and allowed the team to move more quickly towards being eliminated. The trades leaves the impression of an inevitable rebuild, and thus opens the opportunity to trade Zucker.

Who Should Trade for Zucker?

Below I have compiled a 3 team list of clubs that have an unfilled top-six forward spot and have the necessary cap space and assets to acquire Zucker.

Carolina ($16.29 million in Space)

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The Carolina Hurricanes, at request of owner Tom Dundon, made moves to acquire scoring in Nino Niederreiter from the Wild earlier this season. the acquisition of ‘El Nino’ greatly improved the Canes’ interesting forward group. Now in the Eastern Conference Final, the Canes could easily sit on their success and more or less be fine. However, the acquisition of Jason Zucker could send the Canes into legitimate, and consistent, playoff contender. Below are some of Carolina’s most notable prospects and picks that could be used in a deal for Zucker.

Forwards

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Martin Necas (20 Y/O, 64GP-52P AHL, CAR 1st Round #12 in 2017)

Janne Kuokkanen (20 Y/O, 48GP-38P AHL, CAR 2nd Round #43 in 2016)

Aleksi Saarela (22 Y/O, 69GP-54P AHL, NYR 3rd Round #89 in 2015)

Nicolas Roy (22 Y/O, 69GP-36P AHL, CAR 4th Round #96 in 2015)

Morgan Geekie (20 Y/O, 73GP-46P AHL, CAR 3rd Round #67 in 2017)

Jack Drury (19 Y/O, 32GP-24P NCAA, CAR 2nd Round #42 in 2018)

Eetu Luostarinen (20 Y/O, 54GP-36P Liiga, CAR 2nd Round #42 in 2017)

David Cotton (21 Y/O, 39GP-36P NCAA, CAR 6th Round #169 in 2015)

Stelio Mattheos (19 Y/O, 65GP-96P WHL, CAR 3rd Round #73 in 2017)

Defense

Jake Bean (20 Y/O, 70GP-44P AHL, CAR 1st Round #13 in 2016)

Goaltending

Alex Nedeljkovic (23 Y/O, 51GP-.916SV% AHL, CAR 2nd Round #37 in 2014)

Jeremy Helvig (21 Y/O, 39GP-.918SV% ECHL, CAR 5th Round #134 in 2016)

Jack LaFontaine (21 Y/O, 45GP-.923SV% BCHL, CAR 3rd Round #75 in 2016)

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Draft Picks

2019 1st Round Pick *Available*

2020 1st Round Pick *Available*

2021 1st Round Pick *Available*

Mock Deal

CAR Receives

  • F Jason Zucker (27 Y/O, 81GP-21G-42P NHL, 5YL@$5.5million)

MIN Receives

  •  2019 1st Round Selection (CAR)
  • F David Cotton (21 Y/O, 39GP-36P NCAA, CAR 6th Round #169 in 2015)

The Canes receive, as I mentioned previously, an excellent two-way scoring forward with solid advanced analytics and good production.

The Wild receive a 1st round selection in the upcoming NHL draft, although a late one. The team will look to target top prospects Matthew Robertson (D), Connor McMichael (C), and Philip Tomasino (C). Minnesota also receives David Cotton, who is a strong forward with excellent skating ability. Consistency is a concern with the NCAA centre though.

New Jersey Devils ($14.4 million in space)

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The Devils, coming off a disappointing season, lost key pieces Nico Hischier, Taylor Hall, and Kyle Palmieri to significant injuries. Entering the 2019 draft with the 1st overall selection, the likely selection of Jack Hughes would solidify the 2C position left vacant by Adam Henrique. The team also moved top-six forward Marcus Johansson to the Bruins at the deadline which leaves another top-six position open. Listed below are notable prospects that could be used to acquire the coveted Zucker.

Forwards

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Michael McLeod (21 Y/O, 55GP-33P AHL, NJD 1st Round #12 in 2016)

Brandon Gignac (21 Y/O, 66GP-36P AHL, NJD 3rd Round #80 in 2016)

Jesper Boqvist (20 Y/O, 51GP-35P SHL, NJD 2nd Round #36 in 2017)

Aarne Talvitie (20 Y/O, 17GP-16P NCAA, NJD 6th Round #160 in 2017)

Mikhail Maltsev (21 Y/O, 31GP-17P VHL, NJD 4th Round #102 in 2016)

Eetu Pakkila (19 Y/O, 52GP-60P Jr. A SM-Liiga, NJD 7th Round #203 in 2018)

Joey Anderson (20 Y/O, 13GP-6P AHL, NJD 3rd Round #73 in 2016)

Defense

Colton White (22 Y/O, 71GP-30P AHL, NJD 4th Round #97 in 2015)

Ty Smith (19 Y/O, 57GP-69P WHL, NJD 1st Round #17 in 2018)

Reilly Walsh (19 Y/O, 20GP-18P NCAA, NJD 3rd Round #81 in 2017)

Jeremy Davies (22 Y/O, 37GP-36P NCAA, NJD 7th Round #192 in 2016)

Goaltending

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Mackenzie Blackwood (22 Y/O, 23GP-.918SV% AHL, NJD 2nd Round #42 in 2016)

Akira Schmid (19 Y/O, 37GP-.926SV% USHL, NJD 5th Round #136 in 2018)

Mock Trade

NJD Receive

  • F Jason Zucker (27 Y/O, 81GP-21G-42P NHL, 5YL@$5.5million)

MIN Receives

  • D Jeremy Davies (22 Y/O, 37GP-36P NCAA, NJD 7th Round #192 in 2016)
  • G Akira Schmid (19 Y/O, 37GP-.926SV% USHL, NJD 5th Round #136 in 2018)

The Devils receive the underrated scorer in Zucker. The Wild receive Davies, a 22 year-old offensive machine of a defender, and Schmid, a good goaltender that fits nicely behind the NHL window of Kaapo Kahkonen.

Colorado Avalanche ($10.9 million in space)

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The Avalanche, who are coming off a surprising 2nd round appearance, have longed lacked depth scoring. After being labeled a ‘1-line team’ for the past couple of seasons, the Avs added ‘name-brand’ 2nd-line C Derrick Brassard from the Panthers. Their recent playoff success may lead to a more ‘buy-friendly’ attitude that could include the addition of Zucker to fill a much needed 2nd line spot. Below are some prospects and picks that could be used to obtain the two-way forward.

Forwards

Josh Dickinson (21 Y/O, 31GP-29P ECHL, Free Agent)

Shane Bowers (19 Y/O, 37GP-21P NCAA, OTT 1st Round #28 in 2017)

Brandon Saigeon (20 Y/O, 68GP-92P OHL, COL 5th Round #140 in 2018)

Cam Morrison (20 Y/O, 32GP-21P NCAA, COL 2nd Round #40 in 2016)

Logan O’Connor (22 Y/O, 64GP-42P AHL, Free Agent)

Nick Henry (19 Y/O, 69GP-94P WHL, COL 4th Round #94 in 2017)

Defense

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Conor Timmins (20 Y/O,**Injured**, COL 2nd Round #32 in 2017)

Cale Makar (20 Y/O, 25GP-30P NCAA, COL 1st Round #4 in 2017)

Goaltending

Petr Kvaca (21 Y/O, 19GP-.924SV% Czech2, COL 4th Round #114 in 2017)

Adam Werner (22 Y/O, 26GP-.926SV% SHL, COL 5th Round #131 in 2016)

Shamil Shmakov (19 Y/O, 23GP-.915SV% MHL, COL 7th Round #202 2017)

Draft Picks

2019 1st Round Pick (COL) *Available*

2020 1st Round Pick *Available*

2021 1st Round Pick *Available*

Mock Trade

COL Receives

  • F Jason Zucker (27 Y/O, 81GP-21G-42P NHL, 5YL@$5.5million)

MIN Receives

  • F Nick Henry (19 Y/O, 69GP-94P WHL, COL 4th Round #94 in 2017)
  • 2019 1st Round Selection (16th OVR)

The Avalanche receive the much-needed Zucker for WHL stud Nick Henry and the 16th selection in the upcoming draft. A feisty winger, Henry has a noticeable knack for scoring that may translate into an exciting energy role in the Wild’s bottom six. Also getting the 16th overall pick allows the Wild to select a top prospect along the lines of Cam York, Arthur Kaliyev, or Philip Broberg.

Conclusion

Overall, Zucker is an exceptional player whom provides a highly coveted presence. Although I firmly believe that the Wild should not move the underrated winger, there are several teams who need a winger of Zucker’s stature that seem poised to move major assets to fulfill that need.

Statistics, Quotes, and other info retrieved from puck77.com, sportsnet.ca, hockey-reference.com, eliteprospects.com, capfriendly.com, sportsforecaster.com, and tankathon.com

Feature Image courtesy of Niko Michals

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Minnesota Wild: Bruce Boudreau’s Last Stand?

A Long Playoff Run Might Be The Only Way Head Coach Bruce Boudreau Can Keep His Job

Bruce Boudreau has had a phenomenal run as a National Hockey League head coach. 

Since taking over behind the bench of the Washington Capitals in 2007, Boudreau has done nothing but win games in the regular season. In eight full seasons (82-game schedule) of coaching, Boudreau has achieved 46 or more wins in each of them. Unfortunately, it’s the playoffs where he has had very little success. 

Boudreau’s teams have qualified for the NHL playoffs in every season he has coached. But only once has he ever led his team past the second round. In six of his 11 post-season appearances, his team has been a first-round casualty. 

Current Minnesota Wild General Manager Paul Fenton took over for the fired Chuck Fletcher at the conclusion of the 2017-18 season. With Boudreau’s track record of regular season success, it was no surprise that Fenton kept Boudreau in place behind the bench. This allowed the players to maintain some familiarity while Fenton slowly and patiently made the moves he deemed necessary while shaping the team to his liking. In addition, Boudreau did lead the Wild to a combined 94 wins over the previous two seasons. He was certainly worthy of another shot. 

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But new GM’s, at one point or another, like to bring in their own people. It’s obviously not surprising that executives like to hire those that they have built a relationship with over time, a trust in their knowledge to apply the same values they possess themselves. 

Win Or Else 

You have to assume that Fenton is no different. Regular season wins and playoff appearances are great, but a berth in the Stanley Cup Finals is the ultimate goal. If Boudreau can’t translate those regular season wins into playoff glory, no doubt Fenton will move on from Boudreau and give the Wild a fresh face behind the bench. 

It’s no different from what transpired with the Chicago Black Hawks the last few seasons. 

Stan Bowman took over as General Manager prior to the 2009-10 season in Chicago, where coach Joel Quenneville was already in place from the previous season. Bowman was patient, and allowed the former Jack Adams award winner to keep his position behind the bench. That patience paid off with a Stanley Cup victory that same season, and two more championships in the next five years. 

But even with that success, rumors always circulated that Bowman and Quenneville could never see eye-to-eye in terms of on-ice philosophy. One would assume that Quenneville would have held that position and left on his own terms one day. But after two first-round exits and then missing the post-season entirely last year, the writing was on the wall for Quenneville. A slow start for the Black Hawks this season led to the shocking dismissal of Quenneville by Bowman, who brought in current coach Jeremy Colliton. 

For the first time in many years, a Boudreau-led team is having trouble finding its legs in mid-season. With as many wins as losses to this point of the season (26-22-4), the Wild’s current two-game losing streak has them precariously holding onto a wild card position in the Western conference standings. They are however only two points out of third place in the Central division. 

Dumba Injury A Big Loss

An injury to Wild defenceman Matt Dumba has been a major blow to the team this season. Dumba tore his pectoral muscle in a fight with Matthew Tkachuk on December 15th, and his return to the line-up this year is in doubt. Since Dumba’s injury, the Wild have gone 9-10-2, and his absence is felt immensely each game. When healthy, Dumba averages well over 23 minutes a game in TOI (time on ice). Very few teams can replace those lost minutes internally. 

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Asking the Wild to fill Dumba’s roster spot through the trade route prior to the deadline on February 25th is a tall order. Thanks to big contracts to the likes of Zach Parise, Ryan Suter, Jason Zucker, Mikael Granlund and Mikko Koivu, Minnesota has very little room to add any defencemen of significance because of salary cap limitations. This alone will likely see the Wild stand pat at the trade deadline, and simply hope Dumba can return at some point prior to the stretch drive to aid the team into the playoffs. 

Schedule Is On Their Side

One thing benefitting the Wild is their upcoming schedule. Starting Tuesday, Minnesota plays 10 of its next 11 games against teams at or below .500 on the season, six of those being on home ice. This is a vital stretch for the Wild, one that could not only determine their fate for the season, but that of Boudreau’s as well. After that, 14 of their remaining 19 games come against teams currently over .500. Anyone associated with the Wild will agree, the time to make a move in the standings is now. 

The Wild are not getting any younger. Koivu is 35. Parise, Suter and Eric Staal are 34. Goalie Devan Dubnyk is 32. Even with a long playoff run, it’s inevitable that Fenton will have to make some roster moves after this season to bring some youth into the organization. But that will prove to be difficult.

Parise and Suter both have No Movement clauses in their contracts, and both have an average annual value (AAV) of over $7.5 million until 2023. Combined the two take up almost 20% of the team salary cap.  Jared Spurgeon and Dubnyk have Modified No Trade clauses in their deals, and Zucker has one kicking in next season. Fenton has his work cut out.  

When it comes to on-ice philosophy, Fenton and Boudreau are complete opposites. Before becoming GM in Minnesota, Fenton spent years as an assistant GM with the defensive-minded Nashville Predators. Boudreau, on the other hand, has been blessed with the likes of Alex Ovechkin, Nicklas Backstrom, Ryan Getzlaf and Corey Perry. Going with the hand he was dealt, Boudreau has been all offence, all the time. Its the type of player Boudreau himself was over a 17-year professional career, averaging over a point-per-game in many of those season. 

Boudreau played in an era where winning a game 7-5 was common and accepted. In today’s NHL, a coach winning a game by a 7-5 score is often miserable afterwards, lamenting poor defensive lapses and vowing to “get things straight on the back-end”. 

With different ideology between Fenton and Boudreau, it seems inevitable that a long-term alliance between the two is unlikely. Boudreau, 64, is still coaching in an era where not only are the players coming in and producing at a younger age, but so are the bench bosses. Young coaches with fresh systems and new defensive schemes. The only avenue to likely buy Boudreau more time behind the Wild bench is a Stanley Cup berth. 

For that to happen, the Wild need to start winning. 

And the league’s schedule maker is urging them to do that right now. 

Follow me on Twitter @cbradley2928

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Statistice provided by hockey-reference.com, hockeydb.com and theScore 

Feature photo image credit: Nikos Michals