Wild considering trade options
ST. PAUL - Wild general manager Chuck Fletcher and the rest of his front office staff have escaped the cold for a few days, convening in a South Florida bunker for their annual scouting meeting.Fletcher and Co. are doing more than building their ...
ST. PAUL – Wild general manager Chuck Fletcher and the rest of his front office staff have escaped the cold for a few days, convening in a South Florida bunker for their annual scouting meeting.
Fletcher and Co. are doing more than building their first list of amateur skaters for June’s draft.
With an array of scouts beside him, Fletcher is talking over potential trades with his trustees, determined, it seems, to add offense to a Wild team that seems to have stalled on its way to elite status.
Signs suggest Fletcher is willing to trade from the team’s surfeit of young talent to make an impact addition to the lineup.
“You only get so many opportunities to try and improve your team,” Fletcher said.
He tried to land 23-year-old center Ryan Johansen, but the Columbus Blue Jackets instead traded Johansen to Central Division rival Nashville. Since then, Fletcher has inquired with Tampa Bay about forward Jonathan Drouin, the No. 3 overall draft pick in 2013 whose agent has publically demanded a trade.
“At this time of year, what we try to do is take stock of where we’re at, not just where we sit in the standings, but what are our strengths? What are our weaknesses? Where do we need to improve as an organization?” Fletcher said. “That’s the focus of these meetings. There will be good dialogue.”
Three weeks ago, Fletcher inked defenseman Jared Spurgeon to a five-year contract extension, giving him four defensemen signed through the 2019-20 season. Fletcher already has acknowledged the added flexibility to deal a blue liner, the Wild’s deepest position.
Jonas Brodin, Matt Dumba or Marco Scandella would be the most logical choices given the team’s depth, including young defensemen in the AHL.
“We have some young players that could factor into the equation this season, and several that hopefully can factor in going forward,” Fletcher said. “You’ve got to take a lot that into consideration.”
The Wild have lost seven of nine games heading into Wednesday’s game at Anaheim. During that skid, forward play was the conspicuous weakness.
“Our goals have dropped a little bit in the past few weeks; we’re not shooting the puck as often as we need to be,” Fletcher said. “I think there are some things there that we need to look at.”
With six weeks until the NHL’s trade deadline, Fletcher said the Wild will first look to improve the offense internally.
“I do think a lot of the solutions to that problem are in that dressing room - guys getting pucks to the net, getting bodies to the net, getting back to what has made us successful for most of the last 12 months,” the GM said. “I think we’ve gotten away from it a little the last little bit. But we’ll see how things play out over the next few weeks.”
While Fletcher emphasized that, “You don’t want to just make trades for the sake of making trades,” this is an important week for him to talk over potential deals with the team’s scouts - the only week during the regular season that brings together all of the team’s scouts and entire front office.
“It’s a good time of the year where you can just step back and kind of decompress a little bit, and really look at the big picture to see where you’re at - and on the one hand how far we’ve come, but on the other hand how far we still need to improve to get to where we want,” Fletcher said.