Minnesota Wild at the Deadline: Final Grades

With the deadline passed, and the team on lock down, the only tasks remaining are to pass early judgment and watch as the rest of the season plays out.

We decided to include the entirety of Chuck Fletcher's moves over the past week. This will include the two trades yesterday, the Marek Zidlicky trade, and the placing of Brad Staubitz on reentry waivers. Grading trades is not an entirely productive use of time, as it is tough to gauge what is at hand before even seeing a single play for some of the pieces involved.

The question we asked ourselves was... what else have we got to do? It's not like we design waste containers for radioactive materials around here. We write about the Wild, and the things they do. They did some things, so now we're writing about them. Sound fun? Make the jump.

JS: Starting with the Zidlicky trade, I was stunned to see Chuck Fletcher was able to get so much in return. Sure, Nick Palmieri and Stephane Veilleux were in the AHL for NJ, but on a Minnesota team that has about 4-5 players every night who don't have any business being in the NHL, they'll turn out to be some good depth-givers. Getting Kurtis Foster back is also good, as he won't be afraid to shoot the puck, and regardless of the number of mistakes he's been making in NJ, at least he won't be making $4M a year to do it and he won't be a baby about playing the way his coach wants him to play. The pick(s): Cherry on the sundae.

As for the Nick Schultz trade, it's emotionally tough for me to be on board with it. Like Clutter said, Schultz was what the organization was all about. In return, Fletcher got Tom Gilbert, a player I've never liked. I get that the offense from the blueline was non-existant, but Gilbert brings fears of Zidlicky part 2 to me. Most people say the Wild won the trade though, but they're likely underrating Schultzie. Thanks for everything, Schultz.

The Greg Zanon trade, to me, pure money. Zanon was gone at the end of the season anyway and while Fletcher could've taken a draft pick, he instead got another right-shooting puckmover, a 23 year old with a bit of upside who can help immediately, due to injuries to Mike Lundin and Clayton Stoner. Beats losing Zanon for nothing for sure.

Final Grade: B+ ... totally revamped the defense, dramatically improved the offense, got a few picks for the future... I believe he succeeded in improving the team right now and in the future at the same time. The only thing I don't like is the sacrifices made in defensive talent. Would've been nice to be able to trade Josh Harding too, but I understand the market was basically non-existant. I hope Backs is poised for a good end-of-season stretch.

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Jesse: The Zidlicky deal was about where I though it should be. Fletcher got a replacement that will go UFA, an extra body to put less pressure on the AHL call-ups, a power forward prospect who could play top-6 (more likely top-9) minutes, one guaranteed pick, and a conditional pick that could happen considering how the Flyers and Bruins have struggled lately.

The Schultz deal will hurt on a personal fan level, as Nick Schultz is a fan favorite and became a face of the franchise; however, I understand the need to move him for a defensman who can help start breakouts, which is an area that the Wild have struggled all season long (including the hot start). The Wild have the lowest scoring blueline in the NHL, and it had to be addressed. Gilbert might not be the best player, but he very well could have been the best player AVAILABLE, which is key.

The Zanon deal is intriguing, to say the least. Zanon should have been shopped and moved, and the Wild get a puck-moving defensive prospect back. The injury history of Kampfer scares me (knee, concussion), but there is some potential there. I don't think he's got as much upside as others since he'll be 24 by the time the next season starts, but there's still upside.

Final Grade: B... Zidlicky's deal has some promise in the pick and Palmieri, and Zanon's deal could have net another decent puck-moving defenseman. The Schultz deal makes Minnesota worse in their own end, but could help offensively down the road.

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Bryan: The entirety of my thoughts on these deals has all but been exhausted at this point. The Zidlicky trade was a home run. Players, picks, prospects. Win, win, win. For a guy no one thought was worth more than a bag of pencil shavings, Fletcher landed help now and help in the future. Well done. A+ on this part.

The Schultz deal is a tough one to swallow, but one that many say improves the team. If that is the case, the grade will rise. Right now, the proctor is unimpressed. Schultz's play was the rock the Wild defense leaned on, and it was ripped out from under them. How that will impact the team is a crap shoot. Tough to trade a team leader and fan favorite. I'll give this trade a C-.

Moving Zanon for a young prospect is a fine move. Zanon was gone at the end of the year, was slipping in his abilities, and didn't look to be the greatest fit for Mike Yeo. Steven Kampfer is a serviceable puck mover from all reports, and with a little development could be a decent young player. This one gets a B+

When Fletcher put Staubitz on re-entry waivers, his future was unclear. The team, of course, said the right things. Trying to bring him back, want him around the team, etc. It's unclear why the Montreal Canadiens wanted Staubitz, but they did, and they take the six minute wonder on as their issue. The Wild pay half his salary to play in Montreal, but such is life. Grade here... B.

Final Grade: B-... The moves got rid of three players who were not in the plans, and a couple who didn't seem to want to be here anymore. At the same time, one of the core members of the team was thrown out with the bath water. The fact that Harding was not moved and mentioned as possibly being a part of the future plans is a bit confusing, but that's why he gets paid the big money.

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Nathan: Marek Zidlicky was a malcontent whose off the ice actions were starting to make a larger negative impact on the team than his (many) on the ice issues. As a result, he HAD to be moved. Unfortunately, since Zidlicky and his agent went to the media to make it clear that he wanted to go to New Jersey and since he controlled to which teams he would consent to be traded, Fletcher was behind the 8-ball. All that being said, do not ask me how it's possible that Fletch got a second round pick, a prospect with potential, a conditional 3rd and spare parts for the rest of the season. This move is a thing of beauty.

Greg Zanon was another guy who absolutely had to go. Getting him out of the conference and receiving a puck-moving defensive prospect fits with the main objective of freeing cap space while improving the team's transition game and getting younger. Besides, always nice to get something for a guy who is clearly going to walk at the end of the season.


Now, onto Nick Schultz. Initially I was concerned because I didn't understand the return. Don't get me wrong, I wasn't against moving Nick Schultz. I have been saying for months that he was going to be an asset at the deadline for a team looking to add defensive defensemen for the playoff run. Of course, since he's heading to Edmonton it's obviously not to help their playoff run. The further I get from the announcement, the fewer problems I have with the trade and the more I like the idea of Tom Gilbert on the top pairing for this franchise moving forward. Say what you want about Nick Schultz, he is not the guy to start the breakout. It's not his game. He won't be able to get the puck from the corner or behind the net, create space in two strides and hit Setoguchi, Heatley or Koivu breaking out of the zone to counter-attack. The club is wasting money with the amount of time the scoring lines have to spend in digging the puck out of their own zone.

Tom Gilbert has proven that he can make forwards better by leading that charge. Sure, his point totals have been falling the last couple of seasons, but that's because of a dedication to the physical aspect of the game. He is concentrating on his own end, playing bigger and protecting "The Kids" in Edmonton who don't know what their own end of the ice looks like, so reading too much into the point decline will be misleading. He's getting the job done. Lots of people saying he's an offensive defenseman but that's not specifically correct. He's not a Mike Green or Dustin Byfuglien or Brent Burns. Gilbert's a two-way defenseman whose primary job is to create turnovers and lead the transition. That's the one thing this team has been sorely missing this year, and in Gilbert they got a good one.

Final Grade: A

What say you, Wilderness? You have a final grade for the deadline moves?

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