Devin Setoguchi is keeping track, but not keeping score.
There is a difference, of course. Setoguchi and the Wild, both on a roll, play host to the San Jose Sharks in a Saturday matinee. For Setoguchi — among others in both dressing rooms — it is a chance to play against the team that traded them. And that means heightened emotion, but nothing else.
Setoguchi keeps track of the Sharks, just like he does every other team in the ultracompetitive Western Conference. But neither he nor anybody else is about to declare a post-trade victory.
“Both teams traded for what they needed,” Setoguchi said. “So everything has worked out.”
The cross-pollination of these two franchises is fairly intense, though. The day before the 2011 draft the Wild sent defenseman Brent Burns — coming off a career-high 46-point season — to San Jose in exchange for Setoguchi, the rights to Charlie Coyle and a first-round pick in the 2011 draft that turned out to be Zach Phillips. Also that summer, the Wild sent Martin Havlat to the Sharks for Dany Heatley and center James Sheppard to the Sharks for a third-round pick in this summer’s draft. Last summer, the Wild signed former Sharks forward Torrey Mitchell.
Sometimes it pays to wait awhile before assessing a trade.
After totaling just two assists in his first 10 games, then having to listen to the trade rumors that accompany such a start, Setoguchi — placed on a line with center Matt Cullen — has 11 goals and 18 points in his past 19 games for a Wild team that has ascended to the top of the Northwest Division and a No. 3 spot in the Western Conference playoff picture.
Coyle, in his rookie season, has added a physical presence to the Wild’s top line, and Heatley has eight goals and 17 points.
The Sharks? Burns has battled injuries that have limited him to 11 games. Shortly after his most recent return, he was moved from defense to the wing, skating most recently on a line with Joe Thornton and Patrick Marleau. Burns has responded well, with two goals and six points in his past five games.
Havlat has eight points in 22 games, and Sheppard has three assists in 21 games. The Sharks, 4-4-2 in their past 10 games, were eighth in the Western Conference entering Friday’s games. But in a very tight and competitive conference, nobody is worrying about drafts made one or two years ago, or who might have gotten the upper hand in those trades.
“That’s not our job,” Sharks coach Todd McLellan told the San Jose Mercury News. “Our job is to welcome the new players into the organization and get the most we can out of them. … When it’s all said and done, we’re happy with the people we have here and we don’t sit back and keep score of who won what.’’
Burns certainly doesn’t.
“Not really,” he told the Mercury News. “You keep track of the team. You’re friends with those guys.’’
For Setoguchi, success on the ice has been matched with a quiet demeanor off it. Ask him about his recent success, and he talks about Cullen and both Pierre-Marc Bouchard and Jason Zucker, the two wings who have filled out that line.
Wild coach Mike Yeo credited Setoguchi’s physical play for his success. But the sharpshooting winger said confidence has been the key.
“I think 98 percent of the game is mental,” he said. “In between the ears is the biggest thing. Playing the right way, believing in yourself, having confidence with the puck, that’s the most important thing.”
Setoguchi was hit by a car in the summer of 2011, which prevented him from much of his offseason conditioning work before joining the Wild. Injuries limited him to 69 games last season. But he returned ready to go this fall after the lockout ended. And, after a slow start, has caught fire.
And so has the Wild. And that’s more important than talking about old trades.
Heatley put it best.
“I won’t comment on who is doing what,” he said. “We’re happy to have [Setoguchi and Coyle]. We like where our team is and we’re looking forward to [Saturday’s game].”