I must admit I thought the Wild would be quiet during the trade deadline and as the hours ticked by with little to know activity it appeared as though my expectations would be fulfilled. Then late in the afternoon, the rumors began flying the Wild were pushing hard for Buffalo Sabres right winger Jason Pominville and lo and behold they came true. However the move did not come without a price, a steep one as it cost the Wild promising goaltender Matt Hackett and intriguing two-way forward Johan Larsson along with a 1st round pick in 2013 and a 2nd round pick in 2014. The Wild also got a 4th round pick in 2014 from the Buffalo Sabres. Minnesota wasn't done there picking up goaltender Jeff Drouin-Deslauriers for a conditional pick to the Anaheim Ducks. So what does this mean for the Wild?
All humor aside the Wild clearly want to win now. With a $5.3 million cap hit for this year and next year makes Pominville more than just a rental player. Pominville currently has 10 goals and 15 helpers on the season and brings a coveted right handed shot. The former Sabre was the team's captain which gives the Wild its 3rd team captain along with Mikko Koivu and former New Jersey Devils captain Zach Parise. So what does this mean for the Wild's future?
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Losing Hackett demostrates the team has a lot of faith in Darcy Kuemper and Johan Gustafsson. Kuemper had a great start to the season in the AHL while Gustafsson has proven last strong season in the Swedish Eliteserien wasn't a fluke as he had a stellar 1.70 goals against average and a stingy .933% save percentage. Hackett struggled more this season and was almost supplanted by Kuemper with the Houston Aeros. The other player dealt was Johan Larsson who to me really was an excellent prospect. He was playing very well at both ends of the ice for the Aeros and had earned rave reviews from the teams brass and coaches with his strong competitive drive and work ethic. I really liked the thought of Larsson anchoring the teams 3rd line and while he was responsible defensively he had the hands to play a top six role if needed. But that's all in the [ast now.
This team also gave up a 1st round pick win a draft many experts say is deep. For a club that has really maximized its results in the draft, which gave the team the assets to trade losing a 1st really makes Pominville's initial cost pretty deep. The 2nd round in 2014 is also significant as Minnesota has started to make that round count. But was there a secret agenda in play?
Could this be a ploy to try to land former Minnesota Golden Gopher star Thomas Vanek? Jason Pominville is a real good friend of Vanek's and the sniper is set to be a UFA at the end of the 2013-2014 season. Will the Wild make a move for him with the hope his good friend and former linemate can lure him to the State of Hockey? I think its unlikely. The Wild will be shedding some salary this summer but the cap will be dropping by a significant margin too. Vanek was grossly overpaid in his last contract thanks to an offer sheet by the Edmonton Oilers but I don't think Vanek will arrive at a discount price as he's still in his prime.
I think its a nice little dream but I don't see how its possible with Parise, Koivu, Ryan Suter, and Dany Heatley's big contracts on the books. The Wild have made themselves a strong, and deep team which still has a quality prospect pool even after the trade. Still tough to say who is the winner just yet, but many Wild fans are thrilled that General Manager Chuck Fletcher was bold enough to make the move in the first place. There is certainly something to be said for that as the deadline is often anticlimatic in Minnesota. Kudos to Chuck for being bold, but Wild fans would be wise to wait a bit before we declare him a genius.