Wild GM Bill Guerin working phones ahead of trade deadline, no regrets over training camp extensions


TEMPE, Ariz. — Brandon Duhaime is one smart cookie.

If he’s traded from the Minnesota Wild in the next two days, he won’t be returning to the Twin Cities with his current team.

So he packed for that possibility Wednesday.

When the Wild’s hard-hitting, fast-skating winger arrived at the team’s hotel off the Arizona State campus late in the afternoon with his teammates, he conspicuously was dragging an enormous suitcase — way larger than one he’d need for a Thursday-Friday, two-game road trip.

“Probably stay off Twitter a little bit,” said Duhaime, who has stayed professional about the situation but is clearly on pins and needles. “I’m taking it game by game, just focusing on Arizona coming up.”

Wednesday was a busy day around the NHL, with the Colorado Avalanche — Friday’s Wild opponent — adding former Mr. Hockey Minnesota Casey Mittelstadt as well as Sean Walker, the Vegas Golden Knights adding Noah Hanifin, the Edmonton Oilers adding Adam Henrique, the Florida Panthers adding Vladimir Tarasenko and the New Yor Rangers adding Alex Wennberg.

The Wild are nine points out of a playoff spot and have a 9 percent chance of making the playoffs, according to The Athletic’s Dom Luszczyszyn’s model. So Bill Guerin wasn’t in the midst of any of that action.

And since potential 2024 free agents Mats Zuccarello, Marcus Foligno and Ryan Hartman were extended before the season, the Wild potential’s trade chips aren’t ones that’ll lasso huge hauls.

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Kirill Kaprizov, Ryan Hartman and Marcus Foligno are all in Bill Guerin’s plans for the future of the Wild. (Steph Chambers / Getty Images)

Duhaime, a pending unrestricted free agent who’s not expected to be re-signed, and center Connor Dewar, a pending restricted free agent, are garnering interest, as is injured Pat Maroon, Guerin told The Athletic on Wednesday. Maroon on Wednesday skated (briefly) on his own for the first time since early-February back surgery and hopes to be ready to play again by late March.

“We got a lot of interest in a lot of players, and Patty’s resume (with three Stanley Cups), of course, teams are out there showing interest,” Guerin said. “Whether that means a team makes an offer is a different story.”

As for Duhaime and Dewar, without naming them specifically, Guerin told The Athletic, “I’m just kind of in wait-and-see mode. I’ve talked to a lot of teams. Sitting here talking to you, nothing’s materialized yet, but that’s not to say it won’t. The prices haven’t been unreasonable, but I haven’t found anything I want to do yet.”

Guerin and front-office lieutenants like Mat Sells and Mike Murray have been joined for the trade deadline in Arizona and Colorado by senior adviser Ray Shero; director of player personnel Chris Kelleher; pro scouts Richard Park, Mark Mowers and David MacLean; director of amateur scouting Judd Brackett; and front-office apprentice (so to speak) Derek Stepan.

Guerin understands that some Wild fans are still frustrated he extended Zuccarello, Foligno and Hartman before the season with the Wild potentially looking at an early offseason and appearing to be in sell mode.

And judging by some of the prices for the top traded players so far, all three forwards would have provided quality asset value at this year’s deadline and allowed a franchise that hasn’t advanced past the first round since 2015 and may miss the playoffs for the second time in 12 years a bit of a roster reset.

But Guerin still doesn’t see it that way, despite his disappointment over how this injury-riddled season has transpired.

“I respect people’s opinions and feelings, but I have to do what I think is right (and that’s not trading away those players),” Guerin said. “If you’re rebuilding, that’s what you do. We’re not rebuilding. I don’t know how many times I have to say it. But people don’t have to agree with it. You don’t have to agree with it, but I’m just telling you that you’re either gonna go with guys you know or you’re gonna go out and spend a lot of money on people you don’t know.

“That’s scarier to me.”

Guerin confirmed a report by The Athletic that Marc-Andre Fleury “is staying,” but he didn’t rule out potentially acquiring a forward in a trade.

However, he said, “We’ve got a lot of guys here that have worked real hard all year. If we do get somebody back, then great, but I’m not holding up deals to get people back.”

Guerin: Bogosian’s extension gives D prospects more time

Zach Bogosian felt soon after his November trade to the Wild that he wanted to stick around longer than just this season. And with Bogosian, 33, fitting so well on the ice — playing in a top-four role — and off of it (family offseason home in Minnetonka), it was an easy call when Guerin approached him a few weeks ago about an extension.

Bogosian’s two-year, $2.5 million extension ($1.25 million) extension, which The Athletic reported Tuesday, was officially announced Wednesday. Bogosian got stick taps from teammates prior to and at the end of Wednesday’s practice. But his best reaction came at home.

“I told the kids yesterday, and they were jumping up and down, screaming and yelling,” Bogosian said, smiling. “I’m happy to be here. Obviously, this time of year is a little weird for everyone — sometimes never really knowing the future. But I’m glad we got something done.”

Bogosian, a healthy scratch at times at the end of his run with the Tampa Bay Lightning, said his experience in Minnesota has been rejuvenating and a “breath of fresh air” for his career.

“He’s been a really good fit,” coach John Hynes said. “He can play the way we want to. He’s been consistent. He adds value to the penalty kill, and to have a real quality person, veteran with good experience, is great.”

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Suddenly, the Wild’s blue line, barring trades in the next two days or offseason moves, is looking like it’s locked in for next year, with potential pairings of Jake Middleton–Brock Faber, Jonas Brodin-Spurgeon and Declan Chisholm-Bogosian/Jon Merrill.

Asked Wednesday how prospects like Daemon Hunt, Carson Lambos, Ryan O’Rourke, David Spacek, Kyle Masters and Jack Peart will make their way to Minnesota with this many players blocking their path, Guerin said, “It gives them time. (Defense) is so hard to come into this league and play and make an impact. They can all play. That’s not what we want. We want them to be ready to make an impact. And they’re just not yet. That’s not a bad thing. That’s normal. They’re all young. And Zach’s been great for us.

“He’s exactly what we’ve been looking for.”

Foligno return ‘soon’

Foligno participated in his first full-team practice since reaggravating a lingering groin injury Feb. 9 against Pittsburgh. He wasn’t part of line rushes but was very active in most drills, including the penalty kill, and Guerin expects him to return Thursday or Friday.

Foligno said it’ll depend on how he feels Thursday morning. He had solo skates Monday and Tuesday, with the key being “managing the pain.”

It’s been tough for him being sidelined while the Wild are trying to stay in the playoff hunt.

“It’s been the worst timing,” Foligno said. “I had to not watch some games. You get sweaty armpits when you’re watching on the couch. I was holding my (newborn) daughter, so it was getting one of those where I was squeezing her too tight watching some shifts. It’s tough. You want to be out there.

“We’re not out of this thing.”

Hynes made a note of the leaders the Wild have been without for this stretch, from Spurgeon to Maroon to Foligno, who is likely the most outspoken. Foligno said it’s tough unless you’re playing to step up and say something, though he has chipped in during the group chat and hopes to help set the tone down the stretch.

“We’ve got to win out. That’s the vibe, the feeling,” Foligno said. “We’ve got to win every game. That’s the playoff mentality we need to have. Desperation mode is in full effect. That’s for sure. You have to try to limit the stress of needing to win. You want to play free. But we all understand we’re points behind and we’ve got to catch guys.”

Foligno isn’t exaggerating.

Eighth-place Nashville is on pace for 95 points. The Wild would attain 104 points if they won out in their final 20 games, meaning they have virtually no room for error. They’re currently on pace for 84 points.

The silver lining for Foligno in his absence was that his third daughter, Julia, was born a couple of weeks ago while he was at home rehabbing.

“It’s nice to be there for the first couple days,” he said. “Big sisters are pumped. I was the momma’s boy, so maybe this is karma, to be surrounded by ladies my whole life.”

Khusnutdinov, Johansson, waiver updates

• Recently signed prospect Marat Khusnutdinov had his appointment Wednesday at a U.S. consulate in Kazakhstan to get his work visa. The hope is he’ll have his Russian passport returned to him by Friday so he can fly to Minnesota and join his new team. Guerin reiterated that Khusnutdinov will play “right away,” but the team is also cognizant of the fact that he needs to get accustomed to his new surroundings and get practice time.

Plus, the Wild aren’t sure yet how often he has been skating since his KHL season ended in late February.

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• Marcus Johansson, who missed Sunday’s game due to injury after getting hurt Saturday in St. Louis, left after the early portion of Wednesday’s practice. That wasn’t the plan. Hynes said it wasn’t a reaggravation — more so it showed where he was.

Johansson didn’t accompany the team on the road trip, so if the Wild need to activate Foligno from injured reserve, they could retroactively place Johansson on IR to create a roster spot.

“It was, ‘Let’s give it a shot and see how it goes,’” Hynes said. “He’ll need a few more days.”

• Vinni Lettieri and Jake Lucchini cleared waivers Wednesday but remained with the team and traveled to Arizona. They are now playoff-eligible if lowly Iowa somehow gets in or would be AHL playoff-eligible if by chance they were even traded. More likely, they were placed on waivers as part of standard pre-deadline practice to create roster flexibility if by chance Guerin acquires players in the next two days and needs the roster room.

(Top photo of Brandon Duhaime: Michael Reaves / Getty Images)





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