The Canucks are showing interest in Wild bottom-six grinder Brandon Duhaime, reports Frank Seravalli of Daily Faceoff. As Seravalli notes, there’s no guarantee the Wild will shop any of their players with the postseason still a possibility. Still, he would add an element of experience and physicality to the Canucks that contenders often like to stock up on at deadline time.
The Wild are back above .500 and sit with a 28-24-6 record, good enough for 62 points. That places them four points behind the Predators for the second wild-card spot in the Western Conference with one game in hand. After a 7-2-1 run in their last 10, MoneyPuck pegs them with a 24.6% chance of leapfrogging both the Blues, who are tied with Minnesota but have played one fewer game, and Nashville, to squeak into the playoffs. Those odds are actually significantly higher than St. Louis, who now sits at 9.6% with a tougher schedule down the stretch and a .500 pace in their last 10 games.
It’s also extremely unlikely they opt to sell. GM Bill Guerin has expressed confidence in his squad as a playoff team throughout their tumultuous campaign, and their most prominent trade chip, goaltender Marc-André Fleury, carries a no-movement clause and recently indicated he’d like to stay in Minnesota as they push for the playoffs down the stretch. Duhaime, Jake Lucchini and Pat Maroon are the only three pending UFA forwards on the NHL roster, while declining veteran defenders Zach Bogosian and Alex Goligoski, as well as AHL mainstay Dakota Mermis, are pending UFAs on the blue line.
Duhaime, 26, has 189 games of NHL experience since making his debut with the Wild in 2021, scoring 19 goals and 33 points in that time. He notched a career-high 17 points and 122 PIMs in 80 games during his first season, but he’s not on pace to eclipse either mark in 2023-24. He’s averaged between 10 and 11 minutes per game in each of his three seasons, entrenching himself firmly in a fourth-line role in Minnesota.
His usually below-average possession numbers have been significantly worse this season, posting a Corsi share of 44% at even strength and an expected -6.6 rating, the latter of which is the worst on the team. As such, his most common linemates, Connor Dewar and Vinni Lettieri, have struggled to limit scoring chances against when on the ice together, controlling 42% of expected goals through 99 minutes together, per MoneyPuck.
Playing in all 58 Minnesota games this season, selling Duhaime while there’s interest may behoove the Wild regardless of their playoff aspirations. It may even benefit them – his possession impacts have been poor enough this season that a Duhaime deal could be a case of addition by subtraction. They’d also free up his $1.1MM cap hit (or part of it, if they choose to retain money) for the remainder of the year to use elsewhere.
Acquiring Duhaime, as well as the eventual return of the injured Dakota Joshua, would push recent call-up Arshdeep Bains and fringe winger Phillip Di Giuseppe out of a job in Vancouver’s bottom six. Bains, while he’s brought an energy element that head coach Rick Tocchet has praised over this three-game NHL stint, has no points and a -3 rating. Di Giuseppe has three goals and eight points through 40 games this year, averaging 12:15 per game.