Owen Nolan Too Important For Minnesota To Trade

Blake BenzelCorrespondent IFebruary 2, 2010

DALLAS - JANUARY 18:   Forward Owen Nolan #11 of the Minnesota Wild at American Airlines Center on January 18, 2010 in Dallas, Texas.  (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)
Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

The trade deadline is looming, and with the moves made in the past couple days by the Maple Leafs and the Rangers, it looks like everyone’s trying to get an early jump on the trading.

The trades that have been made would likely be considered blockbusters, but it is rarely the blockbuster trade that wins one a Stanley Cup.  The trades that win the cup are the ones for crafty veterans that have been there before.  Players like Doug Weight and Mark Recchi, or Billy Guerin, or Owen Nolan.

That’s right, Wild fans.  Our very own Cowboy has the potential to be a trade deadline move, and why shouldn’t he?

Throughout his career, this crafty veteran has been a 20+ goal scorer ten, count them, ten times and is on pace for that mark yet again this season.

He’s proven with the Wild over these last two seasons that, while he may not be the player he was in his prime, he still has plenty of tread left on the tires.

So, if they’re out of contention, why shouldn’t the Wild trade him?  He’ll likely be one of the more valuable rentals that this team has to offer, and his cap hit will be very palatable for just about any team looking for some veteran scoring punch.

He’s been to the playoffs before and has shown that he can still bring the grit that made him one of the game’s most feared power forwards.

So, again, why shouldn’t General Manager Chuck Fletcher look at trading him?

Because he is arguably the most important player to the Minnesota Wild.

Say what you will about this, but trading Owen Nolan would be akin to ripping the heart out of this young, inexperienced Wild roster.

Nolan brings to this team something that they simply don’t have a whole lot of.  Winning experience.

Even if the team is out of contention, trading Nolan sends one message to every single young player in the Wild’s locker room: “We don’t believe that you can win.”

Meanwhile, Nolan continues to lead this team on and off the ice, regardless of whether or not he has the C on his chest.  With all due respect to Mikko Koivu, it is Nolan that is the captain of this team. 

This is no more apparent than in his comments to the Star-Tribune regarding the trade deadline.

"We're in a battle here. We're in a good race. If we stick to our guns, we'll be in," Nolan said. "I can't worry about [being traded] at all. This is my team. This is who I play hard for. We're right there. There's no reason why we can't make the playoffs and I can stay."

Sure, it’s the right thing to say.  Sure, every other player in the locker room would likely say the same thing.  But with Nolan?  There’s something about his attitude, his words that lets you know that he really means it.

“This is my team.”

That says it all.  There’s no extra words, no extra justification.  Just the simple statement that this is his team.

Last season, the signing of Nolan was looked at by many as a move made by a desperate general manager who was unable to sign anyone of value, and maybe that’s what it was, but when Marian Gaborik went down for the majority of the season, it was Nolan who picked up the slack.

The Wild’s poor December last season?

In Nolan’s absence.

Their record this season when the grumpy old man doesn’t suit up?

2-3-0, averaging just two goals for per game.

Quite honestly, the team needs Nolan not only for his on-ice presence, but for what he brings to the locker room and, in the end, that is why the team needs to keep him.

Not for any on-ice boost that he might give them, but for the leadership and mentoring ability that he has and is able to impart on the youngsters on this team.

That is why the Wild should not and, in my opinion, cannot trade Nolan.

That is why Nolan should have a spot on this roster as long as he wants to play.


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