Minnesota Wild general manager Bill Guerin pulled the trigger on his first big trade Monday but hinted more moves could come if his team stops competing.
“If there is quit, there will be more trades,” Guerin said, according to Sarah McLellan of the Star Tribune. “I wholeheartedly expect this team to compete for a playoff spot. We’re right there and if there’s any signs of anyone taking their foot off the gas, that will be an indication.”
The rookie GM traded long-time Wild winger Jason Zucker to the Pittsburgh Penguins for forward Alex Galchenyuk, prospect Calen Addison and a first-round pick. Entering play Tuesday, the Wild have a 26-23-6 record and trail the Winnipeg Jets by five points for the final wild-card spot.
Veteran winger Zach Parise was asked about Guerin’s comments after practice Tuesday and said it’s important for players to tune out the noise in the lead-up to the trade deadline.
“We’re in that situation right now where we’ve got to win or there might be more of that happening,” Parise said, according to McLellan. “For us, as best as possible, you don’t think about that. You just play and play our best and try to win the games.”
Guerin replaced Paul Fenton in August after he was fired due to “the lingering fallout from a series of arguably bad trades and other personnel matters,” according to The Athletic’s Michael Russo. Since he joined the team late in the off-season, Guerin has spent most of the season evaluating the squad he inherited, making the Zucker trade the first significant move he’s made.
Galchenyuk and captain Mikko Koivu are the only pending unrestricted free agents on the Wild’s current roster, so any trade Guerin makes would involve a player with term on their contract. Despite the lack of rental candidates, Guerin’s comments suggest no player is safe from a trade as he works to improve his team’s culture.
“I like the culture here, I think it’s going in the right direction,” Guerin said. “I think some things needed to change. Not just personal wise or player wise, just attitude wise… so I’m very happy with the way things are going.”
Galchenyuk is expected to debut for the Wild on Tuesday against the Vegas Golden Knights. Zucker is also expected to make his Penguins debut Tuesday when he will skate on a line with Sidney Crosby against the Tampa Bay Lightning.