Wild swings trade with playoffs in mind

  • Article by: KENT YOUNGBLOOD , Star Tribune
  • Updated: February 9, 2007 - 9:39 PM

Seeking strength and size, GM Doug Risebrough sent Pascal Dupuis to the Rangers for Adam Hall, a forward who can work the boards.

He has a big shot, Mark Parrish said, and he's willing to use his big body. He'll work hard, work the corners. Grind.

Parrish was talking about 6-3, 210-pound right winger Adam Hall, the newest member of the Wild, acquired in a trade with the New York Rangers for left winger Pascal Dupuis on Friday. Parrish and Hall, a native of Kalamazoo. Mich., played together on the United States team in 2005 at the world championships. In fact, they roomed together.

"He likes to go into the corners and play a cycle game, grind it out. He'll fit in good here," Parrish said Friday after practice, which began with Dupuis saying goodbye to his former teammates. Hall, meanwhile, was busy packing for a trip to his third NHL city in less than a year.

With the Wild battling for a playoff berth, Wild General Manager Doug Risebrough felt the team needed an infusion of size and toughness.

"We were trying to get a bit bigger, a bit stronger on the wall," Risebrough said.

"Pascal was a good player for us, a good penalty killer," Risebrough added. " ... But size is something we were trying to get a little bit more of. Obviously Pascal isn't 6-foot-3 and wasn't a guy that was going to get in front of the net, a guy who was going to finish his checks, a guy who was going to pull the puck out. So, I can't ask Pascal to do something he can't do. This is a chance to get somebody who can do that."

Dupuis was preparing for a flight to Washington to meet his new team; the Rangers play in Washington tonight. With rumors of a potential deal swirling, Dupuis wasn't surprised at the move. But bracing for it and hearing the news on his way to practice are two different things.

"To say goodbye to the boys was very hard," Dupuis said. "I was with this team from the first training camp. I just loved playing here, and the fans were great. But right now I have to go and help the Rangers make the playoffs."

The best-case scenario is that a chance of venue will help both players.

Dupuis, 27, earned an NHL contract after a tryout in the Wild's first season. He had 141 points in 334 games, but his fate might have been sealed in December when he took coach Jacques Lemaire up on his offer to players to leave a practice if they didn't feel like practicing.

Still, both Risebrough and Lemaire took pains to compliment Dupuis for his contributions to the Wild.

"Pascal has been great for us," Lemaire said. "He was one of our key men on the penalty kill, he was a guy I could play against anybody. ... I was very satisfied with what he gave us."

Hall, 26, was selected by Nashville in the second round of the 1999 draft after his freshman season at Michigan State. With the Predators in 2002-03, he led all rookies with eight power-play goals. He totaled 85 points in 234 games in Nashville, scoring 14 goals -- 10 on the power play -- in 2005-06.

The Rangers acquired Hall in a three-way deal with Pittsburgh, giving up Dominic Moore. But Hall never seemed a good fit with the Rangers. He didn't get much power-play time, and some believed he didn't play quite as big as his size. Hall was inactive for five of his final nine games in New York, finishing there with four goals and eight assists in 49 games.

"It's one of those situations where you come to a new team, you try to find your niche there," Hall said. "A lot of the power-play time was going to other players."

He'll likely get at least a look on the power play with the Wild, said Lemaire, who also said Hall would play tonight against Carolina.

"He was a guy who goes in front of the net, gets involved, and he's pretty good with the puck," said Lemaire, recalling what it was like to play against Hall when he was with Nashville. "He's a guy who should help us."

Hall is eager for a fresh start.

"I remember Minnesota as always being a hard-working team, a solid defensive team with talent, a lot of speed," he said. "They were always difficult to play against."

Hall, who will be a restricted free agent after this season, is earning $975,000. Dupuis, who is making $798,000, is scheduled to become an unrestricted free agent. That means the Wild owes Hall about $60,000 more for the rest of the season than it would have paid Dupuis, trimming its space under the salary cap to about $1.25 million.

"I'm sad to see a guy I played with for five years go," Wild center Wes Walz said. "But that's the reality of life as an NHL player."

Said Dupuis: "They gave me my first chance. And I want to thank them for that."

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