The most likely scenarios for the Wild at the NHL Draft

The draft kicks off Friday night.
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The first domino of the NHL offseason will fall on Friday evening when the NHL Draft kicks off from Vancouver, Canada.

Minnesota will look to be active this summer in free agency and possibly through trades. The Wild hold the 12th overall pick in the first round of the draft and there's plenty of options available.

Here's the most likely scenarios for the Wild in the first round.

Staying put

This year's draft has a ton of forward depth and it would probably be a wise move for the Wild to find and develop a skilled forward for the future.

If a player like Cole Caufield or Matthew Boldy is available at No. 12, the Wild will be in good hands going forward. Both players played for the United States National U18 Team, putting up 100 and 81 points, respectively.

If neither player is available, Minnesota might end up selecting Vasili Podkolzin, a Russian product in the KHL who's just 17 years old. Fans probably don't want to hear that, considering their top prospect Kirill Kaprizov hasn't come stateside since Minnesota selected him in the 2015 draft, but Podkolzin's potential is legit.

Finally, there are rumblings the Wild could take top goaltending prospect Spencer Knight. It's rare for goaltenders to go in the first round but Minnesota needs a longterm solution between the pipes with Devan Dubnyk being 33 with only two years left on his contract.

Trade down

If the Wild's big board has a lot of players still available on it, there could be sense to trade down. 

This is the first time since 2012 that Minnesota has its first, second and third-round picks in the draft. Former general manager Chuck Fletcher traded away a lot of future assets at trade deadlines.

Although those moves were needed to propel the team into the postseason, it obviously hurt the Wild from a developmental side. The more picks the Wild has at its disposal the better. 

Plus, they could unload a contract – like Jason Zucker, who Fenton has been trying to trade for months – to create more cap space to sweeten the deal. Minnesota has about $19 million in cap space but still has to sign restricted free agents Ryan Donato, Joel Eriksson Ek and Kevin Fiala.

Trade up

This where things could get interesting. There's expected to be a run on centers in picks 4-7. Alex Turcotte, Kirby Dash, Dylan Cozens and Trevor Zegras are projected to be taken by then.

Even though the NHL Draft usually doesn't see first-round picks get immediate playing time, drafting one of the future centers above would put the Wild in a great position for the future.

Eric Staal and Mikko Koivu are in their mid-30s with their best seasons likely behind them, and Minnesota hasn't had a true No. 1 center in years. 

The two teams the Wild could a swing a trade with are Colorado at No. 4 and Buffalo at No. 7. Both Colorado (No. 4 and No. 16) and Buffalo (No. 7 and No. 31) have two first-round picks at their disposal and could be in the market to move around.

Colorado also has the most cap space in the league ($37.5 million) and a need for a top-four defenseman, which is an area of depth for the Wild, making them a candidate to swing a deal that works for both division rivals.

Jared Spurgeon is in talks about a contract extension as he enters the final year of his deal in 2019-20. He's quietly one of the better defenseman in the league but I'm not sure the Wild will part with him. The more likely candidate would be Jonas Brodin.

Brodin isn't a flashy offensive player but he's a respected, stay-at-home defenseman who would bolster any blue line. Plus, parting with Brodin would clear $4.1 million off the books for this season and in 2020-21.

The Wild are entering a critical offseason, where they missed the playoffs for the first time since 2012 and were in the basement of a loaded central division.

Fenton and brass will have to decide what avenue they want to take. Will they take the route of loading up this summer to try and get back into the postseason? Or, will they stay the course and try to solidify their position for another top lottery pick to build for the future?

Time will tell and tonight's draft will be the first building block for what the Wild wants to do.

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