A 4-2 victory over the Detroit Red Wings was an ideal way for the Minnesota Wild to enter the All-Star break (and their bye week) Wednesday night. Now the State of Hockey's professional men's team can regroup over a nine-day layoff before returning to action Feb. 1 with three straight home games against Boston, Chicago and Vancouver.
But what do the Wild plan to do the rest of the season? In reality, they have two choices:
- Fight for a playoff spot.
- Start trading to prepare for next season and beyond.
Fight for a playoff spot
Wild owner Craig Leipold was clear before the season when he said the Wild are looking to win now and avoid rebuilding years. Entering the All-Star break, Minnesota is five points out of a wild-card spot.
Based on a Wednesday report from SportsNet's Elliotte Friedman, the Wild are not ready to wave the white flag.
"As the all-star break begins and teams go through their scouting meetings, a few teams with interesting possibilities are waiting on upcoming performance to decide their path. Included in that group are Chicago, Minnesota, Montreal and the Rangers (back-to-back with Detroit when they return). Those teams will test the value of their players, but hold off on final decisions until closer to the deadline — unless they become convinced they’re out. Pittsburgh continues its pursuit of Jason Zucker, but the Wild aren’t yet ready to concede anything."
The NHL trade deadline is Monday, Feb. 24. Minnesota plays 11 games between now and then, with eight of them being at home inside the Xcel Energy Center. It could be a golden opportunity for the Wild to make the Western Conference playoff race more interesting.
Start trading players
As Friedman reported, the Wild appear to be in no rush to start dealing players before the Feb. 24 deadline. Just as much was admitted by General Manager Bill Guerin in an interview with Michael Russo of The Athletic.
Guerin made is clear that he's not a rush to do anything and will not "fire-sale everything."
It's also possible that any trades the Wild make are to improve the team, assuming they think they have a realistic shot at making the playoffs and possibly a run in the postseason.
Bottom line, as TSN's Darren Dreger reported last week that Guerin is "open for business."