The NHL trade deadline is upon us and the Minnesota Wild could be major players prior to Monday's close of business. "Major players" is a relative term, of course, as there has been exactly one move so far on the day that is supposed to be filled with moves.
Several players on the Wild roster could make perfect additions to a playoff contender's team, however, so the Wild could still make a few moves -- or at least be involved in a few NHL trade rumors -- during the short window still available.
The Players Most Likely to be Moved
Josh Harding - The career backup could be a great pick up for a team like the Chicago Blackhawks or Toronto Maple Leafs as they push toward the playoffs. Both teams have had struggles in net, and Harding has proven himself a more than capable backup. The Leafs may be looking for a number one goalie, and Harding is not right for that position in the pressure cooker of Toronto hockey. That said, if there is a team looking to shore up the backstop position, Harding is a solid choice.
What he is worth: The market for goalies is soft. A mid round pick or prospect may be all that is available.
Greg Zanon - A gritty, shot blocking, tough, stay-at-home defenseman is something every single playoff team wants at the deadline. He is almost 100% not going to be re-signed this summer, so the Wild could certainly use to get something for him before letting him walk. The Wild have a strong stable of young defenseman, and plenty of guys who are better all around players than Zanon. Once a fan favorite, Zanon has slipped into near scapegoat status. Getting out now may be best for both sides.
What he is worth: After what Chuck Fletcher got for Marek Zidlicky, the return for Zanon could be pretty high. A second round pick seems to be the going rate, and if that is offered, Fletcher should jump.
Mike Lundin - Brought is as a backup plan for the young defensive corps, Lundin has seen limited playing time with a decent performance from the kids. Injuries kept him out of the lineup a couple times this year, but nothing major. If there is a playoff team looking for a servicable seventh d-man, Lundin is their man. He won't be back in Minnesota next year, so get what you can.
What he is worth: Even with the high price being paid for defense, Lundin's stock is pretty low. A mid round pick would be a good return here.
Players Rumored to be in the MIx
Nick Schultz - The rock of the Wild defensive corps, Schultz is an interesting target. Wild fans seem to think he is expendable, and that his contract is too high. He is the best defenseman on the team, and is the 70th highest paid d-man in the league. He isn't a goal scorer, but he never was. That isn't his job. His job is to shut down the opposition, which he does on a regular basis. The Wild have no one to step into that role, so giving up Schultz would be a scary move.
Any team in the NHL would love to have Schultz. With another year on his deal, that is not the typical deadline move, but it could be in the works.
What he might be worth: If the haul for Zidlicky is our basis here, Schultz is worth a first round pick, and an high level prospect. At least. If Fletcher takes less for Schultz than Zidlicky, it would be criminal.
Matt Cullen - On their "TradeCentre" show, TSN is mentioning Matt Cullen as a target. That's ludicrous. Cullen has a a no trade clause, is near the end of his career, has another year on his deal, and is living at home in Minnesota. It would be a major shock if Cullen would be willing to waive his NTC to go anywhere in the league, even to a top contender. He seems to be where he wants to be on a personal level. To be traded means ether being away from his family, or moving them, and that seems pretty unlikely at this point.
What he might be worth: The market for forwards is up in the air, but Cullen would fetch a second round pick to be sure. Can't imagine this move happens, but if TSN says he is a target, someone told them he is.