Wild trade tracker: Pat Maroon’s back surgery and timetable for return complicates trade deadline

The March 8 NHL trade deadline is fast approaching, and regardless of the tact the Minnesota Wild take, there’s no way they will be as active as last season when they acquired the likes of Gustav Nyquist, Marcus Johansson, Oskar Sundqvist and John Klingberg in the days leading up to and on deadline day.

The Wild accrued cap space throughout last season after trading Dmitry Kulikov for nothing, losing Tyson Jost off waivers and being remarkably healthy until when it mattered — heading into and in the playoffs.

But the Wild entered this season only able to afford one extra body, and they’ve been so ravaged by injuries that they have been able to exceed the cap ceiling due to long-term injured reserve designations. That halts a team’s ability to accrue space.

The Wild entered the All-Star break with 47 points in 49 games — seven behind the St. Louis Blues for the West’s eighth and final playoff spot and, maybe more detrimentally, sitting in 13th place in the 16-team Western Conference. That means there are four teams ahead of them — Nashville, Seattle, Arizona and Calgary — to overtake for that final wild-card spot.

The math doesn’t look good thanks to winning five of 16 games heading into the bye after starting 11-3 under John Hynes.


Bill Guerin ‘not ready to wave the white flag’ at midpoint of disappointing Wild season

General manager Bill Guerin said at his midseason state-of-the-team news conference last month that he’s not ready to throw in the towel and still believes the Wild could make the playoffs. But the team also spoke volumes by losing its final two games heading into the break, including a second consecutive blown third-period lead, this time to lowly Anaheim.

Heading into the trade deadline, we’ll update this trade and news tracker with all of the goings-on of the Wild, so be sure to bookmark it and return often.

Maroon’s injury complicates deadline

Veteran winger Pat Maroon, the three-time Stanley Cup winner who could be a trade chip for the Wild before the deadline, underwent successful back surgery Tuesday. He’ll be out for four to six weeks.

While he may be able to resume skating in a couple weeks, he’s not expected to be back playing by the deadline, a league source says. While that wouldn’t preclude the Wild from being able to trade Maroon in advance of the deadline, it obviously complicates matters.

However, a team acquiring Maroon would be adding him for a playoff run and not necessarily needing him to be available to play right at the deadline. It’s not unheard of to trade for injured players at the deadline. In fact, if you recall, the Wild got Nyquist from Columbus while he was still recovering from shoulder surgery last season with the hope he’d be ready for the playoffs. Nyquist ended the regular season with five points in three games and added another five in six playoff games.

Maroon, 35, a pending unrestricted free agent, has four goals and 16 points in 49 games for the Wild and 51 points in 150 games over nine playoff appearances. – Russo

Is Chisholm the defenseman addition?

When it was announced that captain Jared Spurgeon would be out the rest of the season, The Athletic reported that Guerin would likely be in the market for a defenseman to strengthen a blue line that has not gotten great play from Alex Goligoski and Jon Merrill, to take some pressure off NHL rookie ice time leader Brock Faber, the NHL’s rookie of the month in January (the first time a Wild player has won that award).

We expected that defenseman would be a pending unrestricted free agent who wouldn’t cost a big asset and would be a decent enough player Guerin could flip at the deadline and recoup the asset if he turned into a seller or a young defenseman with upside that the team could add to its stable for now and in the future.

It appears Guerin chose the latter by plucking puck-moving defenseman Declan Chisholm, 24, a pending restricted free agent, off waivers on Jan. 29 from the Winnipeg Jets.



Time for the Wild to tank? Will it be an active trade deadline? Interest in Zegras? Ask Russo and Smith

The Wild acquired Chisholm to play him, but the big question is if he’ll be ready to jump into the lineup after only two days of practice, starting Monday. He has played only two NHL games this season and none since Dec. 4, with his only other action six AHL games way back in November.

Of course, there’s only one way to shake off the rust and that’s by playing.

Since Chisholm is expected to assume a second-power-play role, if the Wild decide to keep Dakota Mermis up, we could see Goligoski and Merrill as healthy scratches coming out of the break. The question is whether the Wild are willing to carry eight defensemen or whether a veteran like Merrill could be at risk for waivers. Goligoski has a full no-move, so he is here to stay unless he waives his no-trade clause if somebody comes calling before March 8 — which he wasn’t willing to do at last year’s trade deadline or during the summer, according to league sources.

The Wild also acquired defenseman Will Butcher in a minor-league deal on Jan. 26 to add blueline depth. But will we ever even see Butcher? He’s a pending unrestricted free agent and the objective of the move was to give Iowa the type of veteran, offensive-minded defenseman it lacked. — Russo

If the Wild sell, here are some candidates

Unless the Wild go on a tear this month, this seems the likeliest option.

But the Wild’s ability to trade away players won’t be as exciting as it would have been if Guerin hadn’t extended the contracts of Mats Zuccarello, Marcus Foligno and Ryan Hartman late in training camp.

Those extensions were accompanied by no-move clauses in Zuccarello’s two-year deal starting next season, the first two years of Foligno’s four-year deal starting next season and the first year of Hartman’s three-year deal starting next season. But in the current CBA, a change was made to allow no-move clauses in extended contracts to be added to the final year of the expiring one.

So, those three are going nowhere.

The Wild’s pending unrestricted free agents are Pat Maroon, Brandon Duhaime, Zach Bogosian, Marc-Andre Fleury, Mermis and Goligoski. Connor Dewar may be an intriguing pending restricted free agent to consider moving if the Wild don’t like the price he could get this summer if he takes them to arbitration.

Duhaime could be attractive to teams and probably fetch the most. He’s only 27, can motor, is physical and is willing to drop the gloves. There have been no extension talks with his agent to date, per league sources.

Maroon could be attractive to teams looking to add depth, leadership and somebody who can still score. Winning three Stanley Cups in a row is a valuable pedigree. Edmonton had interest earlier this season, but the Oilers’ acquisition of Corey Perry may change things there. Maroon has a 16-team trade list, according to CapFriendly, so he may control his own destiny.

Bogosian has played well for the Wild for the most part, and if Guerin were to re-sign one player, Bogosian is a candidate. If not, a team looking for blueline depth may come calling.



How Wild’s Pat Maroon, Zach Bogosian were ‘rejuvenated’ after Lightning trades

As for Fleury, see the below item.

With most of the core locked up, the only player with term the Wild could conceivably consider trading is Jake Middleton. But with a $2.45 million cap hit and one year left on his deal, it would seem more logical to keep him unless the price is perfect. In fact, his value could be higher at the trade deadline next year with no term left on his contract. — Russo

Is Fleury’s playoff streak in jeopardy?

If the Wild don’t make the playoffs, yes. His teams have made the playoffs 17 years in a row, and he is one win from passing Grant Fuhr for third-most playoff wins in NHL history. They are currently tied at 92.

The last time Fleury wasn’t going to make the playoffs, he waived his no-trade to come to Minnesota while with the Chicago Blackhawks in 2022.



LeBrun: Marc-Andre Fleury trade talk could pick up if the Wild don’t pick it up

If teams are interested and the Wild look like they won’t make the playoffs, you know Guerin will do Fleury the courtesy of bringing those teams to Fleury’s attention to see if he’d want to waive his no-move clause for the chance to play for a playoff team.

The Colorado Avalanche, New Jersey Devils, Toronto Maple Leafs and Carolina Hurricanes are among those who could be in the market for a goalie. – Russo

Shaw, Khusnutdinov and Yurov updates

• In his return from a fourth ACL surgery, Mason Shaw has three goals on 13 shots in five games and is minus-3 in Iowa. Shaw, if you remember, signed an AHL deal in the fall after spending last season with Minnesota.



Wild insider: Mason Shaw’s comeback, Joel Eriksson Ek’s courage, and what’s the plan for Will Butcher?

The Wild, who are in LTIR, theoretically have the cap space to sign Shaw to a league-minimum NHL contract before March 8. But it’s not a guarantee they do so. If Guerin doesn’t think he could help or that the Wild are going to make the playoffs, he may wait until after the season to consider bringing him back next season. At least before his scoring outburst, it was said Shaw was still trying to rediscover his speed and first couple steps.

• One reason Shaw may not be a guarantee to be signed is the Wild are saving cap space for Iowa call-ups and could be waiting to sign 2020 second-round pick Marat Khusnutdinov to his entry-level contract after his season in Sochi ends Feb. 25. Sochi isn’t going to make the KHL playoffs, and Russia isn’t able to take part in the World Championships, so this may provide the Wild a good opportunity to sign Khusnutdinov, 21, who has 153 games of pro experience, get him to the States and give him a head start to make the team out of training camp next fall by putting him into the NHL lineup for now.

• Things remain status quo for 2022 first-round pick Danila Yurov. He hasn’t decided if he’ll re-sign to continue playing for Metallurg Magnitogorsk or sign his entry-level contract with the Wild starting next season.

According to a report, his KHL team offered him a contract worth 30 million rubles, which is the equivalent of about $330,000. That’s a pretty low offer for a 20-year-old star who has scored 19 goals and 43 points in 53 games this season.

Yurov, 20, would likely start next season in Iowa if he came over. That’s why the Wild indicated that they’d be fine if he opted to continue his development in the AHL. And while $330,000 is more money than he could make if he spent all of next season in the AHL, is that enough for him to pass up signing his maximum three-year, $2.85 million ($950,000 a year plus potential bonuses) later this offseason and get his North American pro career started? — Russo

(Top photo of Pat Maroon: Brace Hemmelgarn / USA Today)

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