Now that the chances of a Peter Forsberg comeback are no better than my chances of finally being selected in this year's NHL draft (I'm hoping for a sixth-round pick to be relegated to an AHL team), the Minnesota Wild absolutely have to make a trade to gear up for the playoffs. Here's what we need, in my humble opinion:
+1 A two-way center
+1 A scoring defenseman
- 2 Martin Skoula and Kim Johnsson
1) A two-way center. Forsberg was supposed to fulfill that role, and we wouldn't have to trade anybody for him. With the aging Swede out of the picture, we need to look elsewhere. The names that have been coming up are Columbus's Sergei Fedorov and Michael Peca. While both are in their 30's, I'd choose Fedorov because he has a ton of experience and the positive reputation to make opponents take him seriously. Peca may be the younger of the Blue Jackets centers but I think Fedorov works better in our system.
2) A scoring defenseman. Brent Burns is doing a great job at this, and Kurtis Foster is finally taking more shots. The other six on our roster - Johnsson, Skoula, Nick Schultz, Petteri Nummelin, Keith Carney, Sean Hill - have combined for only six goals. Burns alone has ten. This may come out of left field, I think we should take a chance on the Kings' Lubomir Visnovsky. He's had an off year this season by his standards (6 G, 24 A) but has scored at least 17 goals the past two seasons and seen as the Kings are already out of the playoff race, now would be a good time to grab him. If anybody has other suggestions, feel free to let me know, because I don't know of many other teams willing to part with scoring defensemen.
3) Subtract Martin Skoula and Kim Johnsson. They have combined for 4 goals and 27 assists (20 of those coming from Johnsson) in 118 games (they have each played 59). In simple math, they combine for one point every four games. They also combine to register a plus/minus of -20, which is not a good sign. What doesn't show up on the stat sheet is their inability to check opposing players, their constant struggle to get in a position to help their goaltenders (I feel sorry for Niklas Backstrom, to be honest), and their habitual practice of turning over the puck in both the offensive and defensive zones.
So, who do we give up at the trade deadline? Well, the easy answer would be Skoula and Johsson - or as my partner-in-crime calls them, "dildaphonic" - but other teams aren't that gullible. Now what I am about to say may not sit well with a lot of Wild fans, but I think we should trade Josh Harding. There are a lot of playoff teams on the bubble that could use another goalie, and we have Nolan Schaefer waiting in the wings down in Houston. Schaefer, by the way, has been the AHL's best goalie this year and has proven himself in his short NHL stints. I like the kid, more so than Harding. If we have to give up a forward, some of the names I'd toss around would be Branko Radivojevic and Matt Foy. Radivojevic just hasn't performed to the level the Wild expected of him when we signed him, and it seems now that Foy can only play well when he's within inches of being released.
Well those are my long, drawn-out thoughts anyways. Feel free to leave a comment.
Keep your stick on the ice,