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February 3, 2017 | 11:22am ET
Wild look to remain on top as deadline looms


ST. PAUL, MN -- With the first half of the season in the rearview mirror the Minnesota Wild looks forward to the second half on top the Western Conference.

That does not mean the summit is perfect, but for a club that has always stopped and admired the view from below it is nice to, at least for now, enjoy the reigns.

With 71 points through 50 games played, which is a franchise record, the Wild are also a West-best plus-50 in goal differential. A top-10 powerplay, penalty kill and countless other metrics further support the framework of a team that may have surprised many, but certainly deserve to be where they are at.

Without skipping a beat the team posted a 5-2 win in Edmonton Tuesday night in their return to the ice after the All-Star break. The fourth line contributed three of the five goals with two from Tyler Graovac and another from Chris Stewart who has now chipped in 11 goals on the year.

It is hard to find a chip in the armor for this team, but if anything the biggest enemy of all may be the health bug.

Their All-Star between the pipes, Devan Dubnyk, has remained healthy this season, but the Wild must be careful not to overwork him. Darcy Kuemper only made his 11th appearance of the season against the Oilers Tuesday, but Head Coach Bruce Boudreau has said that he will need Kuemper more as the season goes.

Minnesota may also look to add a depth center at the deadline to further sure-up its already-deep forward group.

Graovac, who stands 6-foot-5, makes has the body and the foot speed of a good fourth line grinder. He has, however, been lacking a consistent forecheck by not supporting the puck carrier and not winning puck battles along the wall.

When in the defensive zone, he tends to find himself out of position, does not use his body to fend off players and tends to give the puck away in a panic when trying to break the puck out. At only 23 years old, he is still young but with a potential championship caliber team the Wild may make a move to put a veteran in his place to be more seasoned in the bottom six.

Two players the Wild could pursue in the next few weeks are:

Martin Hanzal - Arizona Coyotes

He may be the big fish that will be highly sought after before the trade deadline. With a workable $3.1 million cap hit Hanzal is in the final year of his contract which would make him strictly a rental.

Hanzal has 19 points through 41 games this season but his success in the faceoff dot make him an invaluable addition to any team looking to add depth.

Minnesota would have a minor cap issue, but if Arizona is open to retain some salary it may be possible to snag him. Arizona is looking for young players, and Minnesota has a good pool young talent the Coyotes may be interested in for the return.

He does have a seven-team no trade clause, but I'd imagine Minnesota wouldn't be on that list.

Jarome Iginla - Colorado Avalanche

The player that has plagued Minnesota throughout his career may, ironically, in storybook fashion, be the player the Wild might pick up to push them to raise the Stanley Cup.

Iginla does have ties to Minnesota as his children spend time in summer hockey programs in the state. He has the bulldog mentality, veteran leadership and with his career winding down is looking for one more chance to hoist the elusive trophy.

On an Avalanche team clearly in rebuild mode, Iginla has only 12 points in 47 games this campaign, but could be a nice addition to a team looking to make a run.

The BIG problem is the price tag; his $5.3 million cap hit is much too high for a lot of teams that may want him so to make any deal Colorado would have to agree to retain a large chunk of his salary. He is also in the final year of a three-year deal.

Nick Maxson is the Minnesota Correspondent for The Fourth Period. Follow him on Twitter.


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