The Minnesota Wild trade of Marek Zidlicky was all but inevitable. The now-former Wild defenseman wanted out and said as much to the media, putting Minnesota's front office in a bad position. It wasn't exactly the way things are supposed to be handled in a sport built on chemistry and putting the team first because sure, Zidlicky was unhappy, but a lot of people are unhappy with their jobs ... and most of them don't make $4 million a year.
That said, there was little sympathy for Zidlicky among Wild fans and therefore most put his value at a bag of pucks and a half used roll of athletic tape. General manager Chuck Fletcher, as he should, aimed a bit higher: Trading away a former 40-plus point puck-moving defenseman should net a decent return, and on Friday night, Fletcher got his reward for waiting for the right move when he shipped Zidlicky to New Jersey Devils.
In return for Zidlicky, the Wild brought back two former Wild players with the acquisitions of Kurtis Foster and Stephane Veilleux and added a nice young prospect in forward Nick Palmieri. In addition to that, the will Wild get a second round pick in 2013 (the pick the Washington Capitals traded to the Devils) and a conditional third round pick if the Devils are able to make the conference finals.
The Devils aren't favorites to make it to the conference finals, and therefore should keep the conditional pick, making the centerpieces of this trade Palmieri and the second round pick.
Palmieri, a 6-foot-3, 220 pound forward will be put into a role similar to what Guillaume Latendresse was filling: A big body crashing the net and looking for the garbage rebounds. Word from the Devils side is that Palmieri is not exactly fleet of foot, but a power forward in the NHL doesn't need to be fast, he just needs to be able to take a cross check to the back and stand his ground in front of the net.
The second rounder adds to the choices Fletcher can make, giving him either another bargaining chip or a chance at a decent prospect. It'll be interesting to see what happens.
As far as the other pieces are concerned, both Foster and Veilleux are unrestricted free agents after this season, so if Fletcher doesn't see something he likes, both players -- and their cap hits -- will be gone. They're Wild players for now, however, so let's take a look at what they offer.
Foster brings a booming shot to the blue line and a guy who is completely unafraid to let a shot rip. He does have a history of injuries, most of which stem from his scary crash into the end boards that resulted in a broken leg and several surgeries. Foster has preformed well in his return to the NHL, however, and is still more than capable of putting in a few goal -- he won't put in 20, but he should bring a new dimension to the Wild offense.
Veilleux is a grinder. At one point he was a decent scorer, but those years are likely behind him. He will make a great addition to the Wild's bottom six, however, likely slotting in on the fourth line and filling a checking role. He isn't the center piece of this package at all, but is an interesting addition to the package as a whole. The confusing part is that I'm not sure if Fletcher asked for him or if it was a move to add a bit more salary going back to the Wild.
No one on the Devils side of the coin seems to be overly upset with his departure so this could very well be a win-win for both teams.
The Wild get rid of a player that didn't want to be in Minnesota -- and his $4 million contract for next season -- for a stable of players, prospects and picks. Those players may not work out, but the second round pick still makes this a win when coupled with the drop of the Zidlicky's cap hit as it can be used to target a big time free agent in July.
Great trade for Chuck Fletcher, who needed to get rid of a player, and still found a way to turn it into a win.
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