The Minnesota Wild Continue To Make Changes
Bill Guerin has been a patient architect thus far in his time in Minnesota. There is an argument he should have made a move early in the season, but he has continued his composure and patience that he has exhibited so far in his short time as general manager.
He made something very clear on Wednesday. Bill Guerin is not afraid to make roster changes and move veterans. After sending Jason Zucker to Pittsburgh, he decided to give them another call where he acquired forward Nick Bjugstad. It was a real shock when the fanbase heard Eric Staal was traded to the Buffalo Sabres. The Wild traded Staal in exchange for Marcus Johansson in the one-for-one transaction.
According to Michael Russo of The Athletic, Staal updated his 10-team no-trade clause on Tuesday, but left the Sabres off of it and was said to be blindsided by the trade.
Eric Staal was arguably the best free-agent signing in Minnesota Wild history. He excelled in every facet in Minnesota where he restored his career and displayed that he still remains a quality top-six center in the league.
The former first-round pick and Stanley Cup Champion recorded 111 goals and 129 assists for 240 points in 311 games in Minnesota. Staal provided the Wild with 7.2 wins over the course of his four years in the State of Hockey.
Staal is 35 and has one more year left on his contract. Likewise, Johansson is 29 and has a single year remaining on his contract. The Wild do take on an additional $1.25 million as a result of the trade.
As much as it is a cliche, it is a truth that the Wild need to get younger as well as faster. While Staal is clearly the more valuable player, the Wild just got younger, faster and also have more roster flexibility.
Johansson has seen his fair share of teams. He has been a part of five different NHL clubs, including the Washington Capitals, Boston Bruins, New Jersey Devils, Buffalo Sabres, and now, the Minnesota Wild.
He was a very productive player in the early days of his career, but veered off the path in 2017-18 which is the pinpoint of his regression. He has the opportunity to revamp his career with this change of scenery at Xcel Energy Center.
There is no doubt that this could become a very beneficial move for the Wild given his past. Most notably, Johansson was unbelievable in 2016-17 with the Washington Capitals. He provided the Capitals with 3.7 wins. Johansson has scored 129 goals and 235 assists for 364 points. He’s done so in 648 games.
It makes sense for the Buffalo Sabres. The Sabres acquire Eric Staal in order to utilize him in the second-line center role. This gives Buffalo’s youngsters, Dylan Cozens and Casey Mittelstadt, a sense of relief.
For Dean Evason and the Wild, they continue to get younger and faster. It sounds like the Minnesota Wild are preparing to utilize Johansson in the center role. However, he still can play wing. On the surface, it appears the Sabres came out in front, I can assure you that this chapter has not yet been written completely.