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Wild Trades

Wild GM eliminated his chance to make impact moves at deadline.

Connor Dewar was one of three Minnesota Wild players traded away at this year's NHL trade deadline. (MHM Photo / Rick Olson)

Wild general manager Bill Guerin obtained Pat Maroon from the Tampa Bay Lightning last summer with the hope the winger could provide a veteran presence for a team that had made four consecutive playoff appearances but hadn’t gotten out of the first round since 2015. Maroon had won three Stanley Cups and arrived with the reputation of not backing down from any opponent on the ice, while providing leadership off it.

Safe to say, things didn’t go as planned.

Maroon departed Minnesota on Friday in one of three trades that didn’t signal a fire sale as much as a soft surrender in a disappointing season. Guerin dealt Brandon Duhaime to the Colorado Avalanche on Thursday, getting a 2026 third-round pick for a bottom-six winger who will be an unrestricted free agent after the season.

Maroon, who remains sidelined following back surgery in early February and is expected back near the end of March, was shipped to Boston for a conditional 2026 draft pick (he has to play in a playoff game for the Wild to get it) and minor league forward Luke Toporowski.

Guerin’s final deal sent bottom-six center Connor Dewar, a pending restricted free agent, to the Toronto Maple Leafs for a 2026 fourth-round draft pick and minor leaguer Dmitry Ovchinnikov. Dewar, Duhaime and Maroon had combined for 18 goals and 38 points and Duhaime had only four goals and eight points in 62 games.

The departures, especially those of Dewy 1 (Duhaime) and Dewy 2 (Dewar), were because Guerin didn’t plan to bring back Duhaime and he also wanted to clear room on the roster for guys like Russian forward Marat Khusnutdinov, who left his KHL team and reportedly will join the Wild in the coming days.

“It’s not great,” Guerin told the Athletic, of being a seller. “To be honest with you, it’s not great. You say goodbye to some guys you really care about and did great things. They played hard for us, and they sacrificed a lot. So to just move guys, it’s not great. I’d rather add. But we’re just not there.”

He’s right about that.

Contract extensions handcuff trades
The Wild’s win over bottom-feeder Arizona on Thursday, which followed a victory over bottom-feeder San Jose on Sunday, put Minnesota seven points out of a wild card spot in the Western Conference with 19 games remaining in the regular season.

What was interesting about Guerin’s comments on being a seller was the fact he could have put himself in a position to make more trades, if not for some decisions made last spring and summer. That was when Guerin decided to give out contract extensions to five veterans.

That list included forwards Mats Zuccarello, Marcus Foligno, Ryan Hartman, Marcus Johansson and Freddy Gaudreau, who not only got extensions but also have trade protection in their deals. All five wouldn’t have been shopped, but a couple certainly would have been prime candidates to move to a Cup contender.

Guerin added to the list of veterans to get extensions this week by signing 33-year-old defenseman Zach Bogosian to a two-year, $2.5 million contract. This one reportedly did not come with any type of protection from being dealt.

It will be interesting to see if Guerin attempts to move off any of the above forwards this offseason as he prepares for one more season of salary cap issues caused by the 2021 buyouts of Zach Parise and Ryan Suter’s contracts. Johansson, who is injured, and Gaudreau have had very disappointing seasons and, in Gaudreau’s case, he has a 15-team no-trade list so he could be moved.

Those who wanted to see Guerin hit a reset of any sort had the Wild’s recent skid to thank. Minnesota lost five times in an eight-game stretch, including three in a row.

“We’re not in the best spot, but that doesn’t change anything,” Guerin told The Athletic. “I still expect the team to push for the playoffs and I still expect that type of effort every single night. But again, on the flip side, it’s my job to think about down the road as well.”

Right now, down the road is all that should matter to the Wild’s decisionmakers.

Judd Zulgad is co-host of the Mackey and Judd podcast and also Judd’s Hockey Show for SKOR North. Judd covered the Vikings from 2005 to 2010 for the Star Tribune before joining SKOR North.

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