The Wild have their first three-game winning streak in more than a month, Filip Gustavsson looks like a No. 1 goalie and Ryan Hartman is rediscovering his scoring touch.
Now Wild General Manager Bill Guerin has eight days until the March 3 trade deadline to decide whether he should add, subtract or ride out the remainder of the season with the roster as currently constructed.
The Wild have put themselves in a weird position. Good enough to be a playoff team but saddled with undeniable flaws and financial limitations. Their inconsistency has caused league observers to project them as both potential buyers and sellers.
A trade could provide a spark, but would that suddenly turn a team that has trouble scoring into a credible Stanley Cup contender? I doubt it.
More importantly, how could Guerin the Gambler afford more than a rental player given his salary cap issues?
One man's suggestion: Add a player if the price is reasonable but don't sacrifice coveted assets in the draft or prospect pool for a rental with the hope of striking gold.
Guerin is a risk taker. No GM will ever be perfect in decisionmaking, but I admire Guerin's aggressive nature and willingness to accept the consequences of following his approach.
Here was Guerin's comment after acquiring goalie Marc-Andre Fleury in an ambitious trade last March: "If you don't take a swing, you're never going to hit the ball. That's the business we're in. We're in the business of winning. It's nothing else."
And here was what Guerin told me Tuesday morning, hours before the Wild's 2-1 win over the Los Angeles Kings: "We can't trade our way out of problems or any situation. Anything major that's been going on this year needs to be fixed internally. That's the only way it can really be done in a healthy manner."
Different season, different circumstances, different expectations.
The Wild set a franchise record in points and goals last season. They were one of the NHL's best teams in the regular season. That situation warranted a jolt at the deadline. Push all the chips in and see what happens.
The Wild's meager offensive output this season tempers that urgency to make a splash. They currently sit No. 8 in the Western Conference, which is fortunate considering they rank 25th in the league in goals scored.
The Wild desperately need scoring punch, but at what cost? That's the dilemma Guerin faces. It's not an easy call for several reasons:
The Western Conference is not exactly Mount Everest. Vegas awoke Wednesday at the top with 73 points. Six teams in the East have more points than that. The West looks wide open.
Another reason to never settle: Kirill Kaprizov. Every attempt should be made to maximize every season that Kaprizov wears the Wild sweater. Teams blessed with superstars should always operate in win-now mode.
Would, say, Patrick Kane also look fantastic in a Wild uniform? Ab-so-lute-ly.
But again, what is the cost?
Guerin has built one of the top prospect pools in the NHL. This coincides with the Wild being in salary cap purgatory with a truckload of dead money tied up in the Zach Parise and Ryan Suter buyouts.
The organization is building toward something, perhaps something significant, once the buyout penalties become negligible in two years and their prospects have had more development time.
Patience has become a naughty word in the sports lexicon. Few things irritate me more than teams clinging to prospects as if every single one will turn into a Hall of Famer. I normally shout for teams to act aggressively at the trade deadline if they are in contention. Live for the moment, worry about the future later and don't become paralyzed by the unknown.
The Wild's scoring woes and other factors give me pause in that regard. Will one player fix their goal-scoring? Is trading away a high draft pick and/or highly regarded prospect worth it knowing the Wild have stumbled through previous playoff appearances with better rosters? I'd say no.
Best guess is that Guerin does something to bolster his lineup. Perhaps a veteran rental who won't cost an exorbitant amount of assets. That seems like a reasonable compromise.