Just when it looked like the Winnipeg J-E-T-S were going to fly into Xcel Energy Center and steal the Wild's thunder, a rather blah draft for the Wild turned into a stunner Friday night when General Manager Chuck Fletcher stole the show right back.
A half-hour after most the upper bowl of Wild fans emptied following the team's selection of Swedish defenseman Jonas Brodin with the 10th overall pick, Fletcher pulled off the biggest blockbuster in franchise history.
Fan favorite Brent Burns, coming off a breakout season but a year from free agency, was traded to the San Jose Sharks along with a 2012 2nd-round pick for goal-scorer Devin Setoguchi, Boston University power forward Charlie Coyle and the No. 28 pick in the draft, which became Zack Phillips of St. John — a Memorial Cup-winning, high-scoring, two-way center.
"The last two years have been disappointing. In order to compete with the top teams in this league, we have to have more talent," Fletcher said. "I think today when you look at it, we added the equivalent of four first-round picks.
"We gave up a very good piece in Brent Burns and a very good human being in Brent. [But] I can't state how important we felt ... that we needed to add talent. I think we did that."
Setoguchi, 24, a right winger who has scored 84 goals and 159 points in 267 games, was blindsided by the trade. He signed a three-year, $9 million contract extension just the day before.
"I didn't see it coming. The phone is ringing off the hook," Setoguchi said five minutes after Commissioner Gary Bettman announced the trade. "I've been part of one organization since I broke into the league, so I have a lot of great friendships.
"But any time you can get a new, fresh start, it's good. It'll be new in Minnesota and we'll see where it takes us."
Burns, 26, scored a career-high 17 goals and 46 points last season, making the All-Star Game for the first time. When he looked at his phone and saw Fletcher calling Friday night, "my stomach dropped."
"There's been a lot of talk. I heard a lot," Burns said. "It was like last year when I expected it to happen. Last year it never did. This year it did. But I've been in the league for seven years now. I know what happens. Rarely does a guy get to play on one team for his whole career."
Burns, who so loved the Wild that the team logo was one of his first tattoos, was sad to leave Minnesota. At the time, he was jacked-up.
"I texted my trainer [Jeremy Clark] and said, 'Let's get a workout in right now.' I'm excited. I want to get going," Burns said. "It's the same thing when Jacques [Lemaire] left and Todd [Richards] came in. This brings new excitement, brings that passion back.
"I love this place. I really adopted this city as my own. I lived here all year. I'm the only guy that does that. This was the team that brought me in when I was 18 and gave me my livelihood. But it's a great opportunity."
Fletcher said the trade came together quickly. But the reality is after losing Marian Gaborik for nothing, the Wild either needed to sign Burns to a long-term, lucrative contract or trade him. He was the type of asset who could land Setoguchi, a player Fletcher has long sought.
Setoguchi is a pure goal scorer who loves to shoot the puck. He scorched the Wild with three goals last season. He scored two overtime winners in the playoffs, including one against Detroit that completed a hat trick
The rap on him has been consistency.
"We're not talking about a guy that's 28 or 29 years old. He's still a young player," Sharks coach Todd McLellan said. "He's had tremendous success in segments of seasons. He's a streaky guy, but when he gets scoring, he's extremely dangerous.
"I think there's more there. He'd tell you that, too. I hope for his sake and Minnesota's sake it comes out."
Fletcher said he felt it was essential to add a "shooter."
"We have some pass-first players and there's nothing wrong with that as long as you have some players who are willing to shoot," Fletcher said. "I'm hoping Setoguchi is the first step in that."
With Setoguchi came the 6-2, 202-pound Coyle, 19, a center and winger who scored seven goals and 19 assists as a freshman for Boston University last year and was one of the United States' best players at the world junior championships. He's a cousin of Tony Amonte.
"I considered him a potential top-10 pick last year," longtime NHL scout Grant Sonier, who's worked for Atlanta, Boston, Los Angeles and Florida, said of Coyle, who was drafted 28th last year by the Sharks.
"Watching him this year as a freshman, I think he's ready to come out and play pro hockey right now. He's a bona fide power forward. Minnesota just picked up a heck of a player."
Fletcher said: "There is no way this deal gets done if Charlie Coyle's not in it. We feel he's one of the top young power forwards in the game."
Trading Burns could open up a spot for Marco Scandella, 21, the 2008 second-round pick the Wild brass believes in wholeheartedly. The Wild's getting deeper on the blue line (Fletcher called Brodin's mobility and puck skills "elite"), which made it easier to trade Burns.
"It's not an easy decision to trade Brent Burns, and I told him that when I spoke to him," Fletcher said. "It's not something I set out to do, I can assure you that. I did set out to try to add a lot of assets to our organization.
"For two years we've been stuck in the same place. I see the path now, and I believe our fans see the path now, and we're going down it aggressively and quickly."