Michael Russo has covered the National Hockey League since 1995. He has covered the Minnesota Wild for the Star Tribune since 2005, after 10 years of covering the Florida Panthers for the Sun-Sentinel. He uses “Russo’s Rants” to feed a wide-ranging hockey-centric discussion with readers, and can be heard weekly on KFAN (100.3 FM) radio and seen weekly on Fox Sports North.

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Wild trades Kim Johnsson and Nick Leddy to Chicago Blackhawks for defenseman Cam Barker; Talking to Zidlicky

Posted by: Michael Russo under Wild news Updated: February 12, 2010 - 3:24 PM

(Updated) Just before the 2 p.m. trade freeze, sources say the Wild traded pending free agent Kim Johnsson and the rights to 2009 first-round pick Nick Leddy to the Chicago Blackhawks for 23-year-old former No. 3 overall pick Cam Barker, a talented two-way defenseman who has two more years left on his contract at almost $3.1 million per.

The Blackhawks were going to have to trade Barker this summer to get under the salary cap. They'll have to make some more moves, too, I am told, and the Wild still has interest this summer in center Patrick Sharp.

This 100 percent means, I am told by sources, that the Wild is trying to re-sign Marek Zidlicky before the March 3 trade deadline -- probably way sooner. Term is the only stumbling block right now. Trading Leddy was made easier by the influx of defensemen in the system -- Marco Scandella, Tyler Cuma, being the main two, and the long-term future of Brent Burns. The Wild, I am also told, was very concerned about Leddy's development at the U.

Barker had a career-high 40 points last year.

(UPDATED)

Wild assistant GM Tommy Thompson, reached in Vienna on a scouting trip:

“You’re not going to walk in there in the dead of night and steal a guy like Cam Barker. You’re going to have to give up something that hurts.”
 
“Barker will get better as he gets older, matures, puts everything together. This guy’s played pretty well in the National Hockey League. He’s a big, mobile guy who can shoot the puck.”
 
Depth on D allowed this? “You’re not going to be able to keep all three f those top defense prospects to make this trade. That’s the cost of doing business. They wanted a prospect, and you look at their team, they don’t need forwards. That’s the way it is. Just like Pouliot for Latendresse. The test for me is not how Pouliot does in Montreal; it’s how Pouliot would have done in Minny, just like Latendresse was dying under a vine in Montreal. If we think we can get a guy in here that can really upgrade the Minnesota Wild for the long-term, it’s going to have to cost something. It’s as simple as that. Fortunate thing is we have now, we didn’t have two, three years ago, we have some depth in the top-end defense prospects.”
 
Thompson also talks about the U in tomorrow' Star Tribune.
 
 
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