Price wasn't right, so Wild makes only minor deal

  • Article by: MICHAEL RUSSO , Star Tribune
  • Updated: February 28, 2011 - 10:03 PM

Minnesota didn't want to lose talent to get a rent-a-player.

Niklas Backstrom made a save in the first period Monday night.

Photo: David Brewster, Dml - Star Tribune

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What you see is what you get for the rest of the Wild's season.

Other than a minor league trade in which goalie Anton Khudobin was sent to the Boston Bruins' system, the Wild stood pat as the trade deadline hit at 2 p.m. Monday, a day that saw an underwhelming amount of deals leaguewide.

"It started to become apparent a few weeks ago that there just wasn't going to be a lot out there for us," General Manager Chuck Fletcher said. "Waking up this morning, I didn't expect much would happen, and that's what turned out to be the case.

"To go out and overpay for a marginal player or a role player ... didn't seem to make any sense."

The Wild, trying to fill its cupboard, not empty it, was not willing to give up large assets for free-agent rentals. It didn't have the assets to compete with teams such as Los Angeles, which gave up two draft picks (including a first-rounder) and a prospect to Edmonton for Dustin Penner.

And last summer, the Wild added role players Eric Nystrom and John Madden -- types so many teams were looking for Monday.

The Wild could have used a center with Mikko Koivu out another couple of weeks because of a broken finger, but Fletcher said, "Going out and giving up a second- or third-round pick for a fourth-line center to play eight minutes a night, I'm not sure that was replacing Mikko anyway."

The Wild will have to wait for Koivu's broken finger to heal. He saw a hand specialist Monday, will see him again Friday and is healing well, Fletcher said. But he is expected to miss at least two more weeks.

The Wild has been banking on Guillaume Latendresse's return from abdominal and hip surgery. But coach Todd Richards said Latendresse suffered a "little setback [Sunday]" with some pain.

Fletcher hopes that Latendresse, who for weeks was tabbed as perhaps the Wild's big trade deadline move, will return in seven to 14 days. "He's still a huge acquisition for us once we get him into our lineup," Richards said.

The Wild was criticized by one national outlet Monday for not giving up its free agents for picks. "We're trying to make the playoffs, too," Fletcher said. "Like, why do we want to trade our players that are contributing to other teams for ... whatever? Nothing made sense.

"It's taken a year and a half to get the stability and cohesiveness in the room. Why would we try to change it?"

Depth and potential

In exchange for Khudobin, the Wild acquired defenseman Jeff Penner, 23, to give Houston more depth with Tyler Cuma, who will have reconstructive knee surgery this week, and Drew Bagnall hurt.

The real potential was adding forward Mikko Lehtonen, 23, who leads the Swedish Elite League with 29 goals and is second with 56 points for league-leading Skelleftea.

"He's big and he can fly," assistant GM Brent Flahr of the 6-3, 196-pound Finn. "We'll see if he's interested in coming back to North America for next season."

The Wild didn't plan to re-sign Khudobin, who will be an unrestricted free agent this summer, because it has depth at the position with Matt Hackett, Darcy Kuemper, Dennis Endras and Johan Gustafsson.

Barker to miss road trip

Defenseman Cam Barker will miss the upcoming road trip to New York because of an upper-body injury.

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