Wild Having 2nd Thoughts About Trading Calen Addison

Photo: Brace Hemmelgarn - USA TODAY Sports

The Minnesota Wild have their hands tied this offseason, thanks to $14.7 million in dead cap penalties that resulted from Bill Guerin releasing Zach Parise and Ryan Suter a couple of years ago. But back in the spring, when their 23-year-old defenseman, Calen Addison, was spending more time in the press box as a healthy scratch than he was on the ice with his teammates, his trade was one move that felt inevitable.

Calen Addison has struggled to grow up.

Addison seemed to have issues with what Guerin and head coach, Dean Evason, wanted from him, which was to stop playing scared. “I’m not scared”, the rookie told The Athletic back in February. Even more concerning was Calen’s disinterest in doing what it takes to be a reliable NHL defenseman. Even Jared Spurgeon went on the record about how little Calen was interested in taking advice or getting help from veterans on how to improve his play.

“He never really comes over to ask anything,” Spurgeon said. Spurgeon wasn’t being critical. He did say he’s talked with Addison on a number of occasions, pointing out things in practice and stuff like that. He brought up issues he himself had in his first few seasons.

Whether Addison fully agrees with the coaches, it’d be smart to tap into Spurgeon as much as he can. Do a one-on-one video session. Go out for a coffee. Addison may never be Spurgeon, but if he wants to be part of this team’s future, he’ll need to be an improved version of himself. As we’ve speculated — even before the scratches — Addison could be trade bait heading into the deadline, or more likely this offseason. And this might lead to more credence to that theory.

Michael Russo – The Athletic (Feb. 20, 2023)
Minnesota Wild changing tune on Addison’s future

But a few months later, with July just over the horizon and days now getting shorter, the Wild seem to have changed their mind on Addison’s future with the team. Why? Unless they can get really good value (2nd round pick or better) Guerin & Co can’t really afford to replace him with someone better.

As a rookie, Calen Addison is an affordable asset with very talented upside. He isn’t afraid to shoot the puck and runs the power play better than any other defenseman on the team — besides maybe Matt Dumba, who is unlikely to return next season.

Even if he isn’t the perfect replacement for Dumba, Addison isn’t a bad option, as a 3rd line defenseman, if Brock Faber can make his move up to the top-4. In fact, should Calen improve his game defensively and continue to excel on the power play, he’s probably a better fit for what the Wild need than anyone Guerin could replace him with.

If the Wild were offered a second-round pick or something for Calen Addison (No. 26), they may trade him. But despite his string of healthy scratches last season, the Wild need somebody to run the No. 1 power play, and that’s where he’s excelled, with a rookie-leading 18 power-play points.

The Athletic Staff (June 24, 2023)
Foligno, Goligoski, Gustavsson expected to stay; Duhaime, Steel likely gone

According to that same article clipped above and other recent reports from Joe Smith and Michael Russo (The Athletic), Alex Goligoski has decided he wants to stay in Minnesota, even if it comes with time being a healthy scratch, like he was for much of last season. If that’s his decision, his full no-move clause will make secure his spot on the roster.

Bill Guerin isn’t sweating contract negotiations with starting goalie, Filip Gustavsson. If all else fails, they’re prepared to let an arbitrator decide his salary for next season, which is expected to be $3-3.5 million.

The Wild must be perturbed that they’ve yet to reach a deal with the RFA, but if worse comes to worst, they can just elect arbitration on July 6 with an eventual one-year award of likely around $3-$3.5 million.

The Athletic Staff (June 24, 2023)

Earlier this offseason, we wondered out loud if Marcus Foligno would be a cap casualty this offseason, given the trade value he still has and a decline in play toward the end of last season and into the playoffs, but Guerin has no plans to move one of his best locker room leaders.

The same cannot be said for Brandon Duhaime, who is expected to be traded. Another youngster expected to be elsewhere next season is Sam Steel. The Wild can’t afford him and they know it so they’re unlikely to tender him a qualifying offer, which will make him an unrestricted free agent.

Eric Strack | Minnesota Sports Fan