Paul Fenton and the Minnesota Wild have made a lot of moves since the trade deadline last year and the general manager has started to put his mark on the franchise after taking over more than a year ago. However, one thing that many have noted is that the Wild have gotten much smaller over the last year with many wondering if that could affect the team’s success down the road.
The Athletic’s Michael Russo (subscription required) was asked that exact question in his most recent mailbag as the scribe notes that the Wild have traded off Charlie Coyle (6-foot-3) and Nino Niederreiter (6-foot-2), while getting back smaller, more finesse players in Kevin Fiala and Ryan Donato as the team seems to be without that physical edge that most teams feel they need to survive a 82-game season, something that the Stanley Cup champion St. Louis Blues had an abundance of this past year.
Russo admits it’s a concern, but the team does have a number of smaller players, who are physical, including newly acquired Ryan Hartman, Luke Kunin and the team’s hopes that Jordan Greenway will begin to use his size to be more physical.
- While the Winnipeg Jets’ trade of Jacob Trouba has been panned by almost everyone, the Winnipeg Free Press’ Mike McIntyre writes that one aspect of the trade that many haven’t thought of is the value of the 2019 first-round pick they got along with unheralded defenseman Neal Pionk. The team selected defenseman Ville Heinola with the 20th pick in the draft as part of the deal. The blueliner almost immediately moves to the top of Winnipeg’s prospect list and could develop into a top-four option for years, although it could take a year or two until he arrives. Regardless, if Heinola does become a top-four regular and Pionk becomes a reliable option on defense as well, the deal doesn’t look that bad after all.
- With the trade of Henri Jokiharju, the Chicago Blackhawks could find themselves with the potential need of a young player to step up for the team this season. NBC Sports Chicago’s Charlie Roumeliotis writes that Adam Boqvist is expected to turn pro this year and is expected to play for the Rockford Ice Hogs in the AHL if he doesn’t make the Blackhawks’ team out of training camp. That’s good news for Chicago as Boqvist could have returned to the OHL for another year. The team’s first-round pick in 2018 (eighth-overall) scored 20 goals and 60 points in 54 games for the London Knights in his only season there.