Two general managers later, it's deja vu all over again in Minnesota. And that could be significant for the Vancouver Canucks.
On Tuesday, Wild general manager Bill Guerin announced that his team has inked 27-year-old defenseman Jonas Brodin to a seven-year contract extension with a cap hit of $6 million per season.
Brodin has one year remaining on his current deal, which has a cap hit of $4.17 million.
The deal is significant because of the upcoming expansion draft. Brodin's new agreement with the Wild included an amended no-move clause added onto his current deal, which means he must be protected from selection by Seattle. Ryan Suter and Jared Spurgeon also have protection, while Matt Dumba does not.
Heading into the 2017 Vegas expansion draft, then-general manager Chuck Fletcher was worried about losing Dumba to the Golden Knights. Suter, Spurgeon and Brodin were protected.
Fletcher then traded Alex Tuch to the Golden Knights in exchange for a third-round draft pick, based on the understanding that Vegas would select forward Erik Haula rather than claiming Dumba.
The deal looked bad on Fletcher almost immediately, as Haula jumped from 15 goals and 26 points in his last year with Minnesota to 29 goals and 55 points in his debut season with the Golden Knights. He then came back to earth, spending much of the 2018-19 season on the injured list. Last year, he bounced from Carolina to Florida last year as he put up 24 points in 48 games.
Tuch was a 21-year-old first-round draft pick who had played just six NHL games when Fletcher dealt him to Vegas. He scored 20 goals last season, then dealt with injuries this year during the regular season before impressing in the playoffs with eight goals and 12 points.
Four of those goals came against Vancouver, but he was one of many Vegas forwards to lose his scoring touch as the Golden Knights were eliminated by Dallas.
And yes, even Vegas coach Peter DeBoer ultimately acknowledged that the impact of Thatcher Demko's impressive goaltending performance against Vegas got stuck in the heads of his key scorers....
Dumba has three years left on a deal that pays him $6 million a season — and no trade protection. The 26-year-old righty could be a fit for the Canucks if they don't bring back Chris Tanev and/or Troy Stecher — and, of course, the offense-starved Wild have long been rumoured to be interested Brock Boeser. The Minnesota-born goal-scorer would be a perfect fit for them, both on the ice and from a P.R. perspective.
Dumba and Boeser have been linked as trade partners for a long time. I've always been in favour of keeping Boeser. He may not have progressed in a linear fashion from his impressive rookie season, but he has been a pretty steady producer when he has been healthy, and has grown into a more effective two-way player with a toolbox that now contains additional skills on top of just scoring goals.
That being said, I can see the argument for using Boeser's cap hit and roster spot to retain Tyler Toffoli, rather than letting him walk to another team as a free agent with nothing coming back to Vancouver in return. Then, Boeser gets swapped for Dumba, and the Canucks have an extra asset — although I guess Tanev would then end up walking for nothing.
I do like the fact that Dumba is four years younger than Tanev, and not as injury-prone — although Wild fans fret about the fact that he has lost some of his offense after missing a big chunk of the 2018-19 season following surgery to repair a ruptured pec muscle.
Dumba had 50 points in the 2017-18 season, and 22 points in 32 games before his injury. He managed just six goals and 24 points in 69 regular-season games last season, and only one assist against Vancouver during the qualifying round.
But he is a good skater and can play a physical game even though he's not the biggest guy in the world at 6'0" and 180 pounds.
He's also a Western Canadian kid, from Alberta, and certainly earned my respect over the last couple of months for being such a vocal member of the Hockey Diversity Alliance, and for his brave and stirring speech that kicked off the postseason in the Edmonton bubble at the beginning of August.
With players like Vasili Podkolzin, Nils Hoglander and even Kole Lind currently in the pipeline, the Canucks also have some skilled youth coming up at the wing position who might be able to fill a Boeser roster spot, at a lower price point, before too long. On the back end, the cupboards aren't as full — and with Tyler Myers as the only veteran signed beyond the end of next season, there are also more spaces up for grabs.
With all that being said, I'm not sure we've ever seen Jim Benning pull the trigger on a widely speculated trade. May of his free-agent signings have been telegraphed well in advance. Trades not so much, right?
Nevertheless, I expect Boeser will be queried on this subject when he and Quinn Hughes speak to the Vancouver media via Zoom on Thursday.