ST. PAUL — Wild general manager Bill Guerin isn’t messing around anymore.
His message after each move remained consistent: If somebody doesn’t like it, they could very easily be next.
It was a marked change of tone from Guerin, who has played his cards close to his vest over the past few months, and only recently started to put his fingerprints on the franchise he has been tasked with taking to the next level.
While he still claims his ultimate goal is for the Wild to make the playoffs, it wouldn’t shock anybody at this point if Guerin made more changes ahead of the Feb. 24 NHL trade deadline.
“It’s starting to pick up,” Guerin said last week of trade talk. “I would say a week ago it was still pretty quiet and now the last few days have been a little busier.”
It raises the question: Who could be next?
Here are a few names that are surely being discussed.
In the midst of a disappointing 2019-20 season, the 25-year-old defenseman could be on the move if the price is right. He hasn’t come close living up to the lofty expectations he set for himself this season. After teasing back in training camp that 30 goals might be a possibility, Dumba is stuck at 20 points (4 goals, 16 assists) this season. He still is the most dynamic player the Wild have on the blue line, blessed with the hardest shot on the team, and capable of doing things with the puck most players couldn’t even dream of. But Dumba needs to start producing with more regularity. Some feels is has been getting a free pass based on his potential rather than his production. No doubt the biggest thing getting in the way a potential trade is the fact that Guerin is likely going to need a haul to justify parting ways with Dumba at this point.
If Dumba has been a disappointment this season, Brodin, a 26-year-old defenseman, has been the complete opposite, continuing to exceed expectations with each game. He’s a wizard with the puck and capable of getting himself out of the stickiest of situations. He has 24 points (2 goals, 22 assists) this season and is one point shy of matching his career high, 25 points in 2016-17 for the Wild. Why would the Wild consider trading a blue liner who appears to be entering his prime? Mostly because Brodin is going to get expensive after next season. While the Wild could just waiting until next season to decide, it would make sense for them to get out in front of his contract at some point, especially considering they have so much money committed to fellow blue liners Dumba, Ryan Suter, and Jared Spurgeon. That said, it’s likely going to take a lot for Guerin to send Brodin elsewhere. He’s not just going to give him away.
You could argue that nobody has ingratiated themselves to the fan base this season more than Foligno, a 28-year-old winger. After being viewed as nothing more than a grinder for most of his career, Foligno flipped the switch this season, emerging as a leader in every sense of the word. In fact, his leadership skills have been so impressive that he could legitimately to be a candidate to wear the “C” next season if current captain Mikko Koivu isn’t back with the team. That, coupled with the fact that he is on pace for more than 15 goals, and Foligno might be approaching untouchable status at this point. That said, if a Stanley Cup contender is willing to give Guerin a high draft pick for Foligno, the Wild GM would have to think about it.