Wild GM is ‘all ears’ for trade offers ahead of expansion draft

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A Sportsnet report that said Nino Niederreiter‘s name has “started circulating in trade circles” has brought renewed focus to the Minnesota Wild’s situation ahead of the expansion draft.

The Star Tribune’s Michael Russo had also heard that rumor, so he got in touch with Wild GM Chuck Fletcher to talk about it.

“Ultimately, I just don’t want this to be how we deal with our cap challenges and how to deal with our expansion challenges,” Fletcher told Russo. “That’s certainly a focus this summer, but I’d like the bigger focus to be, ‘How do we get better?’ … We need to get better and see what opportunities may be there, whether that’s internally, trade market, free agency, how do we get better and fill the holes we need to fill.”

There’s also been speculation about defenseman Matt Dumba, and for good reason. If the Wild only protect three defensemen, Ryan Suter and Jared Spurgeon will be safe for sure, leaving only one spot for Dumba, Jonas Brodin, Marco Scandella, and a few others.

Up front, Minnesota is obligated to protect Mikko Koivu, Zach Parise, and Jason Pominville due to their no-movement clauses, and they won’t want to lose Mikael Granlund, Charlie Coyle, Eric Staal, or Jason Zucker.

That’s seven forwards right there.

Perhaps they could trade Pominville to free up a protected spot, but they’d have to sweeten the deal for a team to take his contract on.

Which is probably why Niederreiter’s name has come up. The Wild could net a good return for him.

“I’ve had so many calls on a lot of our guys the last year,” Fletcher told Russo a few weeks ago. “We held on to everybody because we wanted to make a run. But if someone’s going to offer me a good deal right now, I’m all ears.”

Niederreiter, 24, is a pending restricted free agent coming off a 25-goal season.