Eric Nystrom cleared re-entry waivers Wednesday, then was traded to the Dallas Stars for future considerations. It is a deal that works for everyone involved, especially Nystrom, who is back in the NHL, and the Wild, which will not be responsible for his $1.4 million salary either this year or next season.
"This is a great opportunity to close this chapter and move on to a new team and a new start," said Nystrom by phone as he made his way to the Houston airport for a quick flight to Dallas.
The move gets Nystrom to the NHL after initially clearing waivers and being assigned to Houston. It works for Dallas, too. The Stars had to stay above the $48.3 million salary floor, and needed to add a $1.2 million contract. The Stars couldn't pluck Nystrom off re-entry waivers, which would cost them just half of Nystrom's $1.4 million salary. They needed it all.
"I think everybody accomplished what they wanted to accomplish," Wild General Manager Chuck Fletcher said. "I've said it a few times. Eric is an NHL player. This trade gives him the opportunity to get back into the league, so it's good from his perspective. Prior to the trade, we had 15 forwards on our NHL roster. So it makes sense from our perspective as well."
Nystrom said his time in Minnesota -- he signed a three-year, $4.2 million deal with the Wild on July 1, 2010 -- didn't go as he or the Wild would have liked. Nystrom scored four goals and was a minus-16 for the Wild last season. But there are no hard feelings on his end.
"They have a plan," he said. "And they didn't think I fit in the picture. They wanted to go with younger guys. But there was a team [in Dallas] where I fit in with what they are trying to do. That's how things work out."
That said, Nystrom said he is looking forward to his first return to Xcel Energy Center.
"I have it marked on the calendar," he said of the Jan. 21 game.
Wild coach Mike Yeo said Pierre-Marc Bouchard and Brad Staubitz would return to the lineup Thursday against Edmonton. Bouchard just finished serving a two-game suspension. Staubitz was suspended for the first three games.
The Wild clearly missed Bouchard during their two-game road trip to play the Islanders and Senators. Bouchard plays the point on the power play, which struggled in a loss to the Islanders.
"He's one of those guys who can help us get into our game when the other team has the momentum," Yeo said. "He has the poise and composure to make plays and execute."
Yeo said the physical Staubitz likely would play on the fourth line. But, he said, a final decision on which forwards will sit has not yet been made.
• Wild captain Mikko Koivu will announce a donation to Children's Hospital-St. Paul to sponsor two private patient rooms in the new Neuroscience and Epilepsy Center. He will do it during an appearance at the St. Paul clinic on Friday. Koivu is a frequent visitor to the clinic. The two private rooms will be decorated with Wild and Koivu items.