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After another early playoff exit, the Minnesota Wild have decided its time for some change.
That started when they let go of long-time GM Chuck Fletcher and hired Paul Fenton to replace him.
It won't end there, though.
New GMs like to put their own stamp on the roster and Fenton will be no different. The Athletic's Michael Russo reported Fenton was hired with a mandate of "tweaks"
and speculated some notable players could potentially become available.
Also trade bait could be core pieces like Nino Niederreiter, Jonas Brodin and Charlie Coyle, who underwent surgery on both wrists Friday but will be healthy well in advance of next season. There’s little doubt he’ll try to trade Tyler Ennis and his $4.6 million salary. If that’s not possible, a buyout is certainly possible if not probable.
He plans to think “outside the box” and look at small trades and big trades.
Niederreiter, who has four years remaining at $5.25 million per, is the definite headliner.
The 25-year-old Swiss winger is coming off a bit of a down year – he produced at a 23 goal, 41 point rate – but he's been one of the best two-way wingers in the league over the last three seasons.
During that time, he has tallied more points at 5v5 than the likes of Ryan Johansen, Max Pacioretty, Jakub Voracek, Jonathan Toews, Patrice Bergeron and Cam Atkinson.
This while posting remarkably strong underlying numbers.
You'll notice a) Niederreiter's on-ice numbers are elite and; b) the Wild have fared drastically worse when he's catching a breather.
That's awfully impressive considering Niederreiter spends a lot of his time on the matchup line going up against opposing team's top players.
He's big, he's strong, he can skate, he can score, he can drive play, and he can hold his own in any situation. He would be a dream fit alongside Taylor Hall and Nico Hischier on the top line.
The Wild want to contend and the Devils aren't overflowing with quality NHLers so a trade could be tricky. Perhaps the latter would have to put some of that cap space to use and eat a good portion of Tyler Ennis' contract as part of the deal. I don't know.
Maybe they will be able to make something work. Maybe they won't. But it's worth making a call and finding out.
Contract projections for the Devils' pending free agents
Revisiting my 2017-18 Eastern Conference predictions
The Devils should target Calvin de Haan
Devils sign Egor Yakovlev
Michael McLeod's 19-year-old season was a disappointment
Could the Devils trade Damon Severson?
Miles Wood drastically improved in 2017-18
The Devils should let Brian Gibbons test free agency
Pavel Zacha has been one of NHL's best penalty killers since entering the league
It's time to walk away from John Moore