Bad Extensions, Not Marat Khusnutdinov, Could Push Marco Rossi onto Wild Trade Block

NHL: Minnesota Wild at Vegas Golden Knights
Stephen R. Sylvanie-USA TODAY Sports

The Minnesota Wild were wheeling and dealing at an NHL trade deadline that was much more active than in past years. But there was only so much they could shake up, after president of hockey operations Bill Guerin signed those who would have been his most valuable trade deadline assets to recent contract extensions instead.

Marat Khusnutdinov expected to make Minnesota Wild debut Thursday

But their biggest addition at the trade deadline didn’t come via trade at all. Marat Khusnutdinov’s KHL season is over and the remainder of his contract nullified. He’s now signed with the Wild, arrived in St. Paul recently and, According to Joe Smith (The Athletic), is expected to play in his first NHL game on Thursday vs the Anaheim Ducks at Xcel Energy Center.

It appears Khusnutdinov could be making his NHL debut on Thursday. The 21-year-old, who had his first practice with the team Monday after Friday’s arrival from Russia, participated in the full morning skate Tuesday. 

Joe Smith – The Athletic

The 21-year-old Russian is expected to jump into the Wild lineup and contribute immediately and I wouldn’t be surprised if he sees early time with superstar teammate and fellow countryman, Kirill Kaprizov, especially if Joel Eriksson Ek is out for any extended period of time, after leaving Monday’s win vs the Arizona Coyotes early with an apparent leg injury.

As for where Khusnutdinov slots in and who comes out, that remains to be seen. Hynes said the plan is for Khusnutdinov to play his natural position at center.

Joe Smith – The Athletic

Minnesota Wild may shop Marco Rossi in offseason?

Marco Rossi Minnesota Wild
Credit: Matt Blewett-USA TODAY Sports

Prior to the trade deadline, longtime NHL insider Jim Cerny (Sportsnaut) reported about how difficult it was to find any interest in Minnesota Wild players, among NHL front offices. That is unless, one anonymous NHL scout quipped, “they make Marco Rossi available or something”.

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Well, well, well, Mr. big shot NHL scout… what if I told you that the player you covet will, in-fact, come available… just not at the (now-past) trade deadline? According to The Athletic, Guerin may very well shop Marco Rossi during the offseason, now that (but not because of) Marat Khusnutdinov being on roster.

Khusnutdinov comes in with a lot of hype as a well-rounded, two-way, tenacious center, and he’s expected to jump right into the Wild lineup. But the skilled Russian isn’t ‘the’ reason Minnesota might listen on Rossi this summer. Rossi has had a quality rookie season — good, but not great, with 17 goals and 33 points. He’s shown he’s capable of playing a top-six center role.

Joe Smith – The Athletic

Bill Guerin’s ‘clubhouse extensions’ could cost Wild Marco Rossi

So it’s not Khusnutdinov who might push Rossi onto the trade block this offseason? No, instead, it’s the veteran extensions I mentioned earlier that will make it difficult to get both young centerman regular minutes in the Minnesota Wild top-six, or even top-nine forwards.

Up the middle, the Wild now have veterans Joel Eriksson Ek, Ryan Hartman and Freddy Gaudreau, along with the aforementioned young NHLers, Rossi and Khusnutdinov. But they also have a rising prospect who could be ready for the league as early as next season.

…the Wild said everything about their belief in Rossi last spring when they signed Gaudreau to a five-year deal then re-signed Hartman in September (one year away from free agency) to a three-year extension. If the Wild believed Rossi was the top-six center they envisioned when they drafted him in the first round, why double down on those two before you had to? So now, a franchise often short on centers, has Joel Eriksson Ek, Khusnutdinov, Rossi, Freddy Gaudreau and Hartman up the middle, plus Heidt expected to make his case for a roster spot in camp. Rossi could be a player the Wild move this offseason if the right deal comes up.

Joe Smith – The Athletic

I’m excited to see the Wild’s latest Russian talent make his debut tomorrow, if it happens. I am not excited to know that we have another batch of aging veterans who are taking priority over some of the best young offensive talent in the organization.

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