Midway through the NHL season many have rightfully complemented the job that Minnesota Wild GM Bill Guerin has done.
He has taken an older team stuck in purgatory and has transformed them into a dark horse in the west.
The albatross contract
The Wild currently sit in third place in the west division six points back of the first place Vegas Golden Knights. A bright spot has been center Victor Rask, who held in the view of many has an albatross unmovable contract. Still with a $4 million cap hit for the next two seasons per cap friendly, Rask has turned his game around for Minnesota.
Bill Guerin didn’t bring Rask to the state of hockey although he might like a redo on that trade that did.
Coast to Coast.
— Minnesota Wild (@mnwild) March 19, 2021
His predecessor Paul Fenton made the trade. Minnesota sent out a valuable top six winger in Nino Niederreiter to Carolina in exchange for Rask. The first season of the trade didn’t bode well for Minnesota as Rask struggled and routinely was a healthy scratch; Niederreiter excelled in Carolina posting two of his better seasons in Raleigh so far.
First two years
Rask’s first two years in the state of hockey were less than ideal for both parties to start off his career in Minnesota. He playied in 66 games his first two years and only totalling 16 points as he struggled to adapt under former Wild Coach Bruce Boudreau.
His first season was tough for Rask as he only had 3 points in 23 in his first season. Rask often found himself in his second season as a healthy scratch but played in the lineup when injuries hit and played better, totaling 13 points in 43 games.
Entering his third year, Rask was facing rumors swirling about his status in Minnesota, with his hefty contract and lackluster play.
Rask though, kept his head down didn’t complain and so far has turned in his best start for the Wild.
Rask has provided good center play on a team that has needed centers since it entered the league in 2000. In 29 games, Rask has tallied 12 points, 7 goals 5 assists averaging 15 minutes of ice time a night.
While they aren’t eye popping numbers at first glance his plus minus is up to a plus 5. Which is his second best tally in his career behind his previous season’s plus 7. He also brings flexibility throughout the lineup with his ability to play with anyone which has allowed him to slide up or down the lineup as needed.
Rask has always been a complicated player to look at; there is talent there and you can never have too many centers. However, the analytical red flags that have accompanied him in his career are hard to ignore. Rask has started to improve those numbers as he has found his game in Minnesota. Rask has found his role, settling in as a solid middle six center who has the ability to play up the lineup when needed.
As well as giving solid minutes and can generate scoring chances. He may not be what the Wild had hoped he could become but on a team that has needed solid centers for its entire existence Rask has provided some stability down the middle.