Options For The Minnesota Wild in the 2021 Expansion Draft

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Expansion Draft
LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA - JANUARY 14: Ryan Suter #20, Kirill Kaprizov #97 and Victor Rask #49 of the Minnesota Wild celebrate the goal of Zach Parise #11 during a 4-3 Wild overtime win over the Los Angeles Kings in the season opening game at Staples Center on January 14, 2021 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)

The Seattle 2021 Expansion draft is drawing near and so is the time before the trade deadline. This means that a lot of teams around the NHL are doing all they can to come up with a plan for how they can escape without any major losses. Especially since the last expansion draft ended up elevating the Vegas Golden Knights to cup contention right away.

None of the 30 teams want a repeat and neither do the Minnesota Wild. Their greatest star, Kirill Kaprizov, is exempt and so is a bunch of their prospects. However, due to a lot of contracts with NMCs attached, the Wild are in a bind when it comes to the draft where options are limited. These are the four most likely scenarios, and what it would end up costing the Minnesota Wild.

Option 1: No Trade Or Waiver Prior To The 2021 Expansion Draft

The first option and most simple option is that the Wild doesn’t make any moves ahead of the 2021 Expansion Draft. No trades are done and none of the players with an NMC attached to their contract waives it, meaning that the Wild has to protect them. This would mean that the Wild has to protect: Zach Parise, Mats Zuccarello, Ryan Suter, Jared Spurgeon, and Jonas Brodin.

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Photo by Dinur Blum

Especially the last three are interesting since it means that the entire defense for the 7-3-1 is filled out beforehand. This would mean that should the Wild go for that option, Matt Dumba and Carson Soucy would be exposed. Doing this would help the Wild protect Joel Eriksson Ek, Kevin Fiala, Jordan Greenway, Marcus Foligno, and Ryan Hartman or Nico Sturm.

This would come at the cost of Dumba, who has been having a great season unless they make a deal with Seattle Krakens, similar to what happened with the Vegas expansion draft or if Seattle were to go after Cam Talbot. Goaltending has been one of the Wild’s strengths this season, but rookie goaltender Kaapo Kahkonen is the future starter of the Wild, and it’s very unlikely he would be exposed at the draft over Talbot.

The other option is to protect eight skaters regardless of position. Normally it’s a very poor option but doing this option would protect Dumba. That leaves two more protections on the forward side and it would be unlikely that either Fiala or Eriksson Ek would be exposed at the Expansion Draft. Both are a major part of the Wild, and their future.

That leaves Greenway and Foligno open, and especially Greenway would be a really big loss for the Wild. He is having a great season and has really developed into a top power forward in the league, so once again making a trade with Seattle could be a way to make sure that Greenway stays put in Minnesota.

Option 2: Trading Dumba Or Greenway

Considering how it’s likely that Minnesota could lose either Dumba or Greenway at the 2021 expansion draft, it would make sense to look for a trade before the draft. This would ensure that the Wild gets something in return rather than loss them for nothing. These trades could be done in a number of ways and rumors surrounding Dumba and Greenway have been floating around on social media for a long time.

The asking price for both players is more than likely high given their status on the team and how well-liked they are in the Wild locker room. But with the trade deadline coming closer it’s a question of when or if the Wild are forced to pull the trigger, to not lose one of the talented players for nothing.

Option 3: Ryan Suter Waives

The third option and most ideal option would be to have Suter waiver his no-move clause. If that could happen, the Wild suddenly had a bunch of new options where they could explore the 7-3-1 option. This would of course come at the risk of Suter being taken and going to Seattle, but the likelihood seems minor. GM Bill Guerin has to work to make it happen, but if Guerin can do so, the options for Seattle at the Expansion Draft are between Soucy, Talbot, Nico Sturm, and Suter.

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Here, Soucy or Talbot seems like the more likely picks for Seattle, and especially Talbot seems appealing as a starting goalie for the first few seasons. The Wild would miss Talbot, but the free agency for a tandem goaltender. Pekka Rinne, Tuukka Rask, Frederik Andersen and Antti Raanta are a few options that the Wild could bring in to be a tandem with Kahkonen.

Option 4: Zach Parise Waives

The last option for the Wild is to have Parise waive his NMC. Like Suter, it would open up an option to protect Greenway and Dumba. The option isn’t quite as ideal compared to the option of Suter waiving his NMC, since it forces the Wild to use the eight skaters option. This would put Foligno up for selection, and he would be missed a lot. He is a warrior and the team’s biggest fighter. He gives it his all in every shift and has really found his groove in Minnesota earning the nickname Moose, for his strong and tenacious work ethic.

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Photo by Dinur Blum

Whichever way the Wild choice they will do everything to avoid the disastrous Vegas Expansion Draft, where they gave up Alex Tuch for free. The Wild will lose a good player, but it’s about making it as painless as possible in the short and long term.

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