The Minnesota Wild will consider "any and all" trade offers after missing the Stanley Cup Playoffs for the first time in six seasons, general manager Paul Fenton said on Friday.
Fenton did not tip his hand as to what positions the Wild specifically need to address during the offseason, but said he has an open mind on the subject. Minnesota (37-36-9) had its worst full season since 2011-12, finishing seven points behind the Colorado Avalanche for the second wild card into the playoffs from the Western Conference.
"It's analyzing where you are as a team," he said. "I'm very happy with our goaltending and our defense. But I think if something became available where I could move something to get something that would improve us in an area, then I definitely would consider it.
"Just because we don't [make a trade] on July 1, doesn't mean there's not going to be something that comes available before we open up the season."
Fenton replaced Chuck Fletcher as Wild general manager on May 21, 2018, and Minnesota made several trades before the NHL Trade Deadline on Feb. 25. The Wild acquired center Victor Rask from the Carolina Hurricanes for forward Nino Niederreiter on Jan. 17; center Ryan Donato from the Boston Bruins for center Charlie Coyle on Feb. 20; and forward Kevin Fiala from the Nashville Predators for center Mikael Granlund on Feb. 25.
Fenton sat down with NHL.com to further discuss Minnesota's offseason plans, injury updates on forward Mikko Koivu and defenseman Matt Dumba and the future of the team.
You mentioned you feel the team is strongest on defense and in goaltending. Does that mean you are going to try and specifically target forwards heading into the 2019 NHL Draft? There has been talk that goalie Spencer Knight would be the best player available when you select at No. 12. Would you consider him as an option?
"It's all about taking the best player. There is nothing specifically that I'm addressing. I'm looking for the best player that will help this organization in the future. For the most part, even though you're [selecting] at 12, you're looking at a 3-to-5 year window before the player is here. For me, I'm taking the best player that is going to be able to help us in the future. We have a need at goaltending, a need at defense and a need for centers, to be honest with you, and if that's any indication, I'm going to take anything that's there.
[As for Knight], I think he's an option there, but I don't anticipate it.
You made some big roster changes with the trades of Niederreiter, Coyle and Granlund. Do you expect to make any more changes? Forward Jason Zucker's name has been mentioned in trade rumors; what are your plans for him?
"Just like every other player, his name is out there, it started to splatter. It's really unfair, to be honest. I've talked about every player on our roster that doesn't have a no-trade, no-move contract. It just happens to be that his name gets mentioned out there more. It has nothing to do with Jason Zucker himself. It's the nature of the business.
"Let's just see where it goes. As I just said, the way the lineup is right now, and we don't know what health we're going to be in at that time. … I want to see where we are in a little bit here."
Video: DAL@MIN: Zucker nets rebound for power-play goal
Defenseman Jared Spurgeon has one year remaining on his contract. Are there plans to offer him an extension?
"I have talked to his agent and our plan is to [extend] Jared Spurgeon. There's not a plan to trade Jared Spurgeon, as has been kind of rumored in the NHL. This guy is a great piece, leader, person, family guy; we want to have him back and we're going to work on doing that. When I had my exit meeting with Jared, his intention was to stay here and be here as long as he can. The Minnesota Wild plans on keeping him here."
Video: NYI@MIN: Spurgeon slams home loose puck for PPG
How are Koivu (torn ACL) and Dumba (torn pectoral) recovering? Do you anticipate them to be healthy and ready to start the season?
"[Dumba] is doing really well, and [Koivu] is doing really well. [Koivu] started skating, I talked to him when I was at the World Championships … he's got clearance to start to skate. Not with stops and starts and doing all the agility things, but he's got the ability to start skating is what he said to me.
"I'll let the doctors say if he's going to be healthy or not. Boy, I would like him to be healthy because it would be a real good boost. I think he will be. I'm not anticipating, I'm not saying anything medically, but I believe the way he trains and the way that he has been progressing, I believe that he will be ready.
"The thing with [Dumba], not only his on-ice contribution but his off-ice contribution. He's got an electric personality. He elevates people around him … the biggest thing we're looking for him to do is he can come in and take people and pull them along."
How do you see Rask (two goals, one assist in 23 games with the Wild last season) and Fiala (three goals, four assists in 19 games with Minnesota) fitting in next season?
"[Rask], he starts last year with an injury to his hand and he never really got going. By the time he got here he lost all of his confidence. It's an important offseason for him. He knows that he's got to go and train and become the player he was a few years ago and get to that productive stage again. For me, he's got an open door to walk in here and to resurrect his career and he knows the pressure is now on him.
"Kevin Fiala going to the World Championship (with Switzerland) does the same thing [in giving him confidence]. I just think our young youthful forwards are a really big part of where we're going in the future here and I hope they're ready to take that next step in training camp."
Video: WPG@MIN: Rask beats Comrie from sharp angle