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NHL Rumour Roundup: Why Matt Dumba trade talk will pick up steam

With trade speculation picking up steam around the league, and only three teams still playing games, here is the latest in the NHL’s rumour mill, topped by the latest out of Minnesota and how it will impact the market.

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COULD THE MINNESOTA WILD TRADE MATT DUMBA?

Time to update our off-season trade candidates list!

Minnesota Wild defenceman Jonas Brodin was going to be a fixture in off-season trade rumours as he headed into the final season of his contract, but on Tuesday he signed a seven-year extension that includes a no-movement clause. So, we can take him out of trade talk.

But what Brodin’s new contract does do is set the table for a potential Matt Dumba trade. The Wild have a core four of defencemen with Ryan Suter, Jared Spurgeon, Brodin and Dumba, and Dumba is the only one without trade protection. That potentially complicates how the Wild will approach next summer’s Seattle expansion draft.

Suter, Spurgeon and Brodin all must be protected from the Kraken and, as The Athletic’s Michael Russo explained, if the Wild don’t trade Dumba before then they’ll have to either protect eight skaters (instead of seven forwards and three defencemen), make a separate deal with Seattle so they don’t take Dumba, or leave him exposed.

The last time there was an expansion draft when Vegas was introduced, the Wild were in a similar spot with too many defencemen to protect. Dumba was left unprotected, but rather than lose him for nothing, the Wild worked out a side deal with the Golden Knights in which the first year team was traded Alex Tuch so they would steer clear of Dumba and take Erik Haula instead. Haula scored 29 times for Vegas in that first season and Tuch continues to be a key contributor for them, scoring eight goals and 12 points in 20 games this post-season.

All that is to say the Wild probably don’t want to follow a similar path into the next expansion draft, and that may mean an off-season trade involving Dumba will happen. The 26-year-old, right shot defenceman has three seasons left on a contract that pays $6 million against the cap.

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SO WHAT WOULD THE WILD WANT FOR DUMBA?

“Look, Minnesota wants a centre,” Elliotte Friedman said on Sportsnet 650’s The Program. “Brodin and Dumba’s names were out there last year at the beginning of the season when Minnesota didn’t start very well. And the one thing I heard — and when I spoke to Bill Guerin about it he didn’t deny it, though he wasn’t giving much information — is that if he was trading one of those guys he was getting a centre.”

In theory, that could mean teams such as Toronto (William Nylander, Alex Kerfoot?) or Calgary (Sean Monahan?) could be a fit. Vancouver is another speculative landing spot, though they wouldn’t trade Elias Pettersson and it’s highly unlikely they’d move captain Bo Horvat either.

So perhaps the Wild will have to expand that market by looking for a scoring winger, or even for an upgraded situation in net. At his year-end availability, Guerin said he was “disappointed in the goaltending this year” from Devan Dubnyk and Alex Stalock and so a package trade that includes a goalie could also be in the cards. It all depends on what that trade offer looks like.

“I really believe if Dumba gets dealt it’s going to be for someone down the middle,” Friedman said. “And if it’s not someone down the middle it’s going to be a name that you say ‘Oh OK I get this.’ But Guerin had made very clear that it was going to be a centre. A top centre.”

And if a goaltender is something that would interest the Wild (again, as part of a larger package) maybe that’s how Vancouver can get into the Dumba sweepstakes.

“I think they would consider a Demko,” Friedman continued. “Aside from centre, the No. 1 position they want to upgrade is goal…I think Demko allows you to enter the conversation, but I don’t think you’re getting Dumba for Demko.”

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NO CLEAR PATH FORWARD FOR CANUCKS IN GOAL

Canucks GM Jim Benning faces a tough choice to make in goal. With expansion on the horizon, one goalie must be left unprotected for the Kraken, and so if Vancouver returns with both Demko and Jacob Markstrom they’d be forced to leave one exposed, or to make a side trade to steer Seattle in another direction.

But with Markstrom being a UFA this off-season he holds a lot of the leverage. Would he sign an extension with Vancouver that doesn’t come with no-movement protection? Would Vancouver want to give him no-move protection ahead of the expansion draft, and thus be forced to either trade or leave Demko exposed?

“I think they want to bring both of these guys back and make a decision in a year,” Friedman said.

But this won’t be resolved based only on what the Canucks want. Whether or not Markstrom re-signs in Vancouver may depend on getting protection from the expansion draft. That is, unless some compromise could be made. For instance, could the Canucks offer Markstrom more in the way of term or salary for a no-trade clause that kicks in after expansion?

“You can’t have a situation where you could lose Demko for nothing. Or you have the proverbial gun put to your head to trade Demko for nothing,” Friedman said. “I think it’s possible that Markstrom is willing to consider (delayed trade protection). That might mean you have to concede elsewhere. If Markstrom is willing to concede that, what do you have to concede on? Do you have to concede on term? Do you have to concede on salary? Do you have to concede on structure of the contract?”

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