Coming into the Deadline Day festivities, Wild fans knew not to expect anything. We have been well trained. We know this isn't Edmonton, this isn't Florida, and this isn't Washington. The Wild is a team with a solid NHL roster, with strong chemistry, and we read all about Chuck Fletcher not being a seller.
As we approached, we were told Dustin Penner was on the radar. There was something to be excited about. Then we learned what the Oilers wanted for Penner. A high pick, a prospect, and a player. Immediately, the Wild are out in that conversation.
As the old saying goes. Aim for the moon, because if you miss, you will hit the stars. Or, something like that. Boy, was the author of that statement wrong on so many levels.
We rode out Deadline together, figuring we were ready to go yet another year with nothing. Boy, were we wrong. We found out the Wild had traded away Anton Khudobin for Jeff Penner and minor league RW Mikko Lehtonen. Having traded away the Aeros starting goalie who had them in playoff position, surely the Wild knew what they were doing, and this is a good trade. We want to believe.
What exactly is a Jeff Penner? Who is Mikko Lehtonen? After the jump.
Turns out, Jeff Penner is an AHL defenseman the size of my two year old daughter. Being small of stature isn't a problem for the Wild, right? Jared Spurgeon, Maxim Noreau, Pierre-Marc Bouchard... all small guys who play big, and still put up points.
Jeff Penner? Well, he has about as many points in the AHL as my two year old daughter.
His best season is 35 points. He is 5' 10" tall, and weighs 183 pounds. The kid has to have a redeeming quality of some kind, right? What it is, I do not know. If you happen to be a Boston Bruins prospect writer, please lord, chime in here. What has this kid got?
The other piece of the puzzle is Mikko Lehtonen, a third round pick of the Boston Bruins who came over to the AHL and left for Sweden. Maybe the Wild think they can coax him back over and get him involved in a franchise full of Finns?
He has good size at 6' 3", 196 pounds, and put up decent numbers in the AHL. Nothing huge, but 50 points, with size... maybe the Wild are hoping they struck gold with the kid. Bring him back over, get him into a system that needs forwards, and who knows?
For now, we are left to wonder why it is a good idea to trade the starting goalie on a winning AHL franchise away for a nobody d-man when they already have players like Marco Scandella, Nate Prosser, Justin Falk, and Maxim Noreau. Or is it for a forward who bolted for Europe? I would never claim to be an expert on the Houston Aeros, so I will leave it to them to sort out for now.
Maybe we will all wake up tomorrow and it will really be Jeff Skinner, not Jeff Penner.
To be certain, I have zero issues with standing pat on the NHL roster. None whatsoever. This is a very good Wild hockey team. It is also good to see the Aeros trade a player the organization had no intent on bringing back. Maybe our friends in Houston will figure it all out for us.
Is Dennis Endras making the jump across the pond? Is Matthew Hackett better than we think he is? Are they making room for Darcy Kuemper? We'll have to ride it out to be sure. Right now, we'll all just sit around and be confused.
As Wild fans, we now turn our attention back to the playoff race, and the task at hand. We'll let Ms. Conduct deal with the fall out from the trade.
Press Release from the Wild:
Minnesota Wild General Manager Chuck Fletcher today announced the National Hockey League (NHL) club has acquired defenseman Jeff Penner and right wing Mikko Lehtonen from the Boston Bruins in exchange for goaltender Anton Khudobin.
Penner, 23 (4/13/87), has posted 19 points (5-14=19) and is a plus-10 in 57 games with the AHL's Providence Bruins this season. The 5-foot-10, 185-pound defenseman from Steinbach, Manitoba, notched a career-high 35 points (7-28=35) in 68 games with Providence in the 2009-10 season. He made his NHL debut with Boston on March 9, 2010, at Toronto. Penner, originally signed by Boston as an undrafted free agent, played one season of collegiate hockey at Alaska-Fairbanks.
Lehtonen, 23 (4/1/87), ranks second in the Swedish Elite League in scoring this season, racking up 56 points (29-27=56) in 52 games with Skelleftea. The 6-foot-3, 196-pound winger from Espoo, Finland, spent two seasons with AHL Providence (2008-10), posting 103 points (51-52=103) in 150 games. Lehtonen participated in the AHL All-Star Game in 2010. He played two games in Boston, including his NHL debut on April 11, 2009, at Buffalo. Lehtonen represented Finland in both the 2005-06 and 2006-07 IIHF World Junior Championships. He was Boston's third-round pick (No. 83 overall) in the 2005 NHL Entry Draft.
Khudobin, 24 (5/7/86), appeared in four games with Minnesota this season, posting a 2-1-0 record with a 1.59 goals-against average (GAA), a .942 save percentage (SV%) and one shutout. Khudobin is 4-1-0 with a 1.40 GAA and a .955 SV% in six career NHL contests. He is 19-12-1 with a 2.58 GAA, a .911 SV% and one shutout in 34 games with Houston this season. Khudobin participated in the AHL All-Star Game in 2010.