One of our generation’s foremost philosophers once said, “If you want to get some, you’d better bring some.”
The philosopher, of course, is former Gophers football coach Tim Brewster. And like any good philosophy, the phrase can be applied to many facets of life.
We will apply it here to the Minnesota Wild and GM Chuck Fletcher, who for the third consecutive year have made the decision late in the season to given up pieces of the future to acquire what they hope is a better present day.
The question, then, is simple: Fletcher wants to get some players; did he bring too much to other teams, sacrificing a chunk of the Wild’s future in the process?
Much of how we answer that question depends on what you think of the Wild and how it is currently constructed. We know Zach Parise, Ryan Suter and Jason Pominville will be here for a very long time. But we also know that a lot of their young players will reach payday age in the coming years, and the Wild presumably won’t be able to keep all of them. Rather, they will need to replenish the roster with more young talent.
That said, you can’t always worry about three or four years from now. The Wild is playing in a manner that suggests it could do some damage in this year’s playoffs. To get better, Minnesota again has had to give up players. You are not, after all, going to slay a bear with a pellet gun.
Big-picture, though, it feels as though Fletcher has given up an awful lot the past three years leading up to the trading deadline. Some of the moves listed below came a little earlier than the deadline, but all were in the middle of seasons. The principal players and picks are listed:
*The Wild dealt a 2013 first-round pick and 2014 second (but got a 2014 fourth-round pick back) for Pominville.
*Traded 2014 and 2016 second-round picks for Moulson and Cody McCormick.
*Traded a 2014 fourth-round pick for Ilya Bryzgalov.
*Traded a 2015 third-round pick for Devan Dubnyk.
*Traded a 2016 third-round pick for Sean Bergenheim (and also got a seventh-round pick back).
*Traded a 2015 fifth-round pick (and Justin Falk) for Jordan Leopold.
*Traded a 2017 second-round pick for Chris Stewart.
*Received 1 sixth and 1 seventh round pick in minor mid-year trades in 2013.
If the fourth-rounder the Wild got back in the Pominville deal cancels out the fourth-rounder it traded for Bryz, the sum total the past three years one first-round pick, four second-round picks, two third-round picks and a fifth-round pick between 2013 and 2017 traded away. They have received two seventh-rounders and a sixth-rounder.
If we consider “premium” picks to be those in the first three rounds, the Wild has traded seven of those mid-season in the past three years.
This is not to say the trades have been bad, at least short-term. Dubnyk has been wonderful. Minnesota probably doesn’t make the playoffs without Bryzgalov last year. Pominville is a very good forward. And the deadline moves Monday could very well help fuel playoff victories. Overall, one would say Fletcher’s trade ledger looks pretty good, with a method to the madness.
But it is fair to wonder if the Wild will face a talent deficit in the long run even if it has a surplus in the short-term. That’s a price Minnesota appears willing to pay, putting even more pressure on this year’s team.