March 9 by The Hockey Daily
If it wasn’t made official last summer, it certainly was a week ago on NHL trade deadline day. The Minnesota Wild are going for it. Last week the Wild traded two highly touted prospects Johan Larsson and Matt Hackett, plus a 1st round and 2nd round pick to the salivating Buffalo Sabres for their captain Jason Pominville. Sabres GM Darcy Regier must have thought he hit the jackpot, and the truth is, he may have. Regardless of how the trade works out for Buffalo that is not important to the Wild. They want to win now and they aren’t shy about showing it.
Last summer the Wild signed high profile free agents LW Zach Parise and D Ryan Suter to long term contracts and it’s paying off immediately. Parise is no stranger to winning. As the New Jersey Devils captain last year he went all the way to the Stanley Cup finals, losing out to a better Kings team in six games. Parise leads the Wild in goals this season with 15, and is 2nd in points with 32. It’s not just points Parise adds to the equation. He is a battler, a winner and a leader.
Finding a legit top two defenseman in the NHL is very difficult. If you look around the league you will see many teams forcing guys to play over their head to fill that void. In Ryan Suter, the Wild have their top two guy. Suter has been a rock for the Wild this season. He leads the league in ice time, averaging around 27 minutes a game and has managed to be a plus player. Suter is remarkably good offensively too. He is 2nd in defenseman scoring with 29 points.
Bring in Pominville. He’s a good player and they paid a lot to get him. Making that move was a clear sign that the Wild are dead serious about their intentions to challenge for a Stanley Cup and for the fans in Minnesota, one of the best hockey markets in the world, this is an exciting time. Pominville is a good two way player that really improves the Wild in both ends of the ice. But does he make them good enough to challenge for a Cup? When a team trades away as much as Minny did for Pommer they are hoping to get a Cup out of it.
The playoffs will be interesting in the West. If the final tournament started today the Wild would be facing their division rivals the Vancouver Canucks. The Canucks have a lot more playoff experience and size. Size has been winning Cups lately. The Wild have done too much, they’ve paid too a high a price to lose in the first round. But this is the Western Conference, every team that makes it can win.
Why Wild why? Well for starters, a year ago the Minnesota Wild sat atop the Western Conference standings around 30 games into the season. By season’s end they were once again out of the playoffs. But they got that brief taste of success. The Wild, if for only a week or two knew what it was like to be on top and they wanted that feeling back. Who can blame them.
You have to give your fans a reason to keep coming back. Wild fans are among the most loyal and passionate in the league and they haven’t had a lot to be happy about since the franchises landed in the twin cities over a decade ago. What better way to pay back the fans than to do everything in your power to give them a winner. The Wild have done a great thing for their fans and it’s cost them a lot to do it. It may not work out for but no one can say they aren’t trying.