Tuesday night before the Minnesota Wild took on the Edmonton Oilers, the Wild announced that they had swapped a 2016 third round draft choice with the Florida Panthers in exchange for Sean Bergenheim. Bergenheim, drafted by the New York Islanders in 2002 (thanks Garth Snow), had requested a trade out of Florida and the Panthers GM Dale Tallon obliged by sending him north to da land of snow, ice, and cold as once described so eloquently by Ole and Sven.
He made his Wild debut Thursday night when the Wild defeated the Nashville Predators at Bridgestone Arena. The deal has been lauded by the advanced stat community as being quite savvy. The advanced metrics show that he may even have first-line-caliber skills, which should help the Wild possess the puck more as they attempt to climb further into the top eight.
According to War-On-Ice.com, Bergenheim was credited with four scoring chances and was responsible for 3 individual shot attempts when the game was tied. What I enjoyed is that he took shots almost whenever he had the puck on his stick and did things to help his teammates keep the puck in the offensive zone. Wild Head Coach Mike Yeo put him on a line with Mikko Koivu and Thomas Vanek.
While putting him on a line with Vanek may be questionable because Vanek seemingly sandbags every line he is on, I understand the thinking behind this line assembly. Because Koivu and Bergenheim are such solid possession driving players, the idea is to keep the puck in the zone and dish to Vanek for goal scoring. This would also be beneficial because it could cover up some of the deficiencies in Vanek's possession game. Bergenheim has been known to go on hot streaks offensively, and by the fact that he accounted for four individual scoring chances, we can see why.
During the game, I polled Hockey Wilderness Twitter followers by asking their first impression. Here are a few responses:
@hockeywildernes I like him. Seems to work hard and actually shoots— Colton (@thatdeafkid16) February 27, 2015
@hockeywildernes was real good first half of the game— DR (@MusiDR) February 27, 2015
@hockeywildernes looks like he will fit right in— Trent Nelson (@TcprailNelson) February 27, 2015
@hockeywildernes makes an effort, so he's fine with me. Already has worked harder than vanek haha— Mark Opsahl (@wildhockey24) February 27, 2015
@hockeywildernes Needs more game minutes looks rusty and tired but has had moments— Tony Dean (@TonyDeanHB) February 27, 2015
The real test will be what he can provide to the team in the longer term, but the Wild may have something that can really help them down the stretch. His shooting rates are amazing, but the point production leave something to be desired. Hopefully he can find more points with better skilled linemates in Minnesota.