Minnesota Hockey Magazine

Schwartz: Wild must set sights on youth

Could Wild defenseman Jared Spurgeon, one of Minnesota’s few marketable assets, find himself in a new sweater on opening day this fall? (MHM File Photo / Jeff Wegge)

Vets can’t be counted on to keep success window open

I think it’s time for the Wild to start to re-think their offseason approach to trades and free agency.

I mean, don’t get me wrong, I think we all love free agent Devan Dubnyk and what he’s brought to the franchise and, if all goes as planned, he’ll be a cornerstone for years to come.

I’m thinking more about moves that involved the acquisition of guys like Matt Moulsen, Chris Stewart and, of course, the much-maligned Thomas Vanek. Re-treads that have found a home here in Minnesota (for periods of time) and have done little more than vacuum money out of Craig Leipold’s vault.

I say it’s time to for the Wild to start thinking younger. The fact of the matter is that the Patrick Kane, Steven Stamkos, and John Tavares’s of the world are drafted — rarely are they acquired in free agency.

But there are always deals to be found (see the Nino Niederreiter trade) and this offseason it would benefit the Wild to find one. That may mean giving up a proven asset and a potential impact player in the process, but, as in life and the NHL, sometimes you have to give a little to gain a lot.

This past week Jim Matheson of the Edmonton Journal speculated about the possibility of a very intriguing deal; Jared Spurgeon for Nail Yakupov (Read the column here).

First of all, no I am not a fool.

Secondly, as good as Spurgeon is, the Wild have a nice defensive core returning and can afford to part with him. Dumba, Brodin and Suter might be three of the best blue-liners in the league. Marco Scandella made great strides this year as did Christian Folin and Jordan Leopold has at least one more good season left in him. Plus there are good free agents out there who could be acquired cheaply.

Where this team lacked in 2015 was offensive playmaking and scoring.  They ranked 13th in the NHL in the regular season in goals and, regardless of whom you assign the blame for that, it affected their record. In the post season it was even more apparent.

The Wild didn’t have one goal scorer in the top 25 for the post season and as a team they ranked 8th out of 16 teams in goals scored.  To put that in perspective Chicago played just 6 more games (to date) but scored 24 more goals — a lot those came from our good friend Patrick Kane.

The bottom line is that this should be a trade the Wild should jump at (or a trade that is similar.) Now, whether Edmonton will go for it is the big question. Still, this needs to be the way the Wild are thinking this offseason.

There is a window of opportunity for the Wild to make a run in the postseason and it’s currently wide open. But the Vaneks and the Stewarts of the NHL aren’t going to help hold it open, it’ll have to  be a new young talent ready to make plays and shine for this team in the years ahead — and just rip the whole thing off its hinges.