Schultz dealt for Oilers' Gilbert

  • Article by: MICHAEL RUSSO , Star Tribune
  • Updated: February 28, 2012 - 8:06 AM

The Wild's career leader in games played was moved to acquire a more offensively-minded defenseman.

hide

Nick Schultz (55) was a strong, stay-at-home defenseman for the Wild.

Photo: Paul Battaglia, Associated Press - Ap

CameraStar Tribune photo galleries

Cameraview larger

Cal Clutterbuck, taking a swig of Gatorade, stopped short, then wore a look of shock for 10 seconds as he digested the news.

A taken-aback Kyle Brodziak yelled, "What?"

The Wild dressing room came to an absolutely stunned halt minutes after practice Monday when word circulated that Nick Schultz, one of the team's most popular players and the franchise's career leader with 743 games played, was traded to the Edmonton Oilers for fellow defenseman Tom Gilbert.

"He's what this city and this franchise is all about," Clutterbuck said of Schultz, the second player ever drafted (behind Marian Gaborik) by the Wild in 2000. "He has been for 10 years."

The swap involved two players the same age (29) making roughly the same salary (Schultz makes $3.6 million, Gilbert $3.5 million) with two years left each on their contracts.

But they are very different defensemen. The Wild flipped a defensive defenseman for a puck-moving, offensive-minded one.

Gilbert played high school hockey at Bloomington Jefferson.

"This was a hockey trade. This was not a salary dump or dumping a player that we didn't appreciate or we didn't value," said General Manager Chuck Fletcher, who later traded veteran Greg Zanon to the Boston Bruins for young defenseman Steve Kampfer. "We needed to add a little bit more puck-moving ability to our back end.

"It's no secret we've struggled offensively and I think this is a natural evolution for our team. I can tell you one thing: There would have been a lot of other pieces I would have preferred to move besides Nick Schultz."

Back home

Schultz established roots in Minnesota. Gilbert, who will debut Tuesday night against the Los Angeles Kings, was born here.

"It's a great thrill for me, and I'm sure my parents are more ecstatic," Gilbert, who has scored 33 goals and 158 points in 384 games, said. "They won't have to watch me on TV as much. I'm sure they're probably going to get season tickets now. I hope I'm a great fit."

Schultz was shaken at first. He signed a six-year deal in 2008, was the longest- tenured pro athlete in Minnesota and got to take his late father and two brothers on three father-son trips and his mother on the team's lone mother-son trip.

Schultz, one of the team's alternate captains, and Pierre-Marc Bouchard are the only remaining member of the Wild team that advanced to the Western Conference finals in 2003.

"This is all I know, being here and playing here and being a part of this team, so it's going to be tough," said Schultz, adding he was excited to join a young, up-and-coming Oilers' team. "I don't know if it's really sunk in yet."

Schultz scored his first goal in 101 games in his final game -- a 4-3 victory over San Jose on Sunday, so as he said, "Nice way to top it off."

Offense from defensemen and, frankly, getting the puck out of the defensive zone and in the hands of the forwards have been problems all season.

"I'd like to think we defend pretty well in our own zone, but we do a lot of it," said coach Mike Yeo, saying the Wild needs to stop slapping pucks around and spending entire shifts in its own end. "I'm not saying Nick was the problem with that and one player's going to fix that, but certainly one player with Tom's ability can help us in that area."

Getting stronger

Gilbert had been one of Edmonton's better defensemen this season, playing a shutdown role with Ladislav Smid until suffering an ankle injury in January. After an exit meeting last year in which he was told he needed to become more physical, Gilbert did just that, but he became expendable by the progress of young Jeff Petry.

"When we played against them, he was always on the ice against Mikko [Koivu]," Yeo said. "So not only can he make plays, but they had some confidence in what he can do defensively."

The Wild has oodles of salary-cap room heading into next season, and NBC analyst Pierre McGuire opined on TSN that the Wild acquiring Gilbert could be part of a long-term plan to pursue potential free agents Zach Parise and Ryan Suter this summer. Gilbert played youth hockey with Parise and college hockey at Wisconsin with Suter.

Fletcher, who can't comment on free agents, said "the next step for us as a franchise" is to go after a big fish.

"Whether that's a trade -- and we have assets now, we have some good, young players, we have some extra picks now -- or whether it's free agency ... at some point we want to go out and try to add some top-end guys," he said.

In the meantime, life in Minnesota moves on without Schultz.

"He's been the veteran leader around here for years," said young defenseman Justin Falk. "When you get drafted and come to your first camps, you see how he carries himself. How he prepares on a day-to-day basis, I've never seen a guy who stays so dedicated, always staying with his routine.

"He's a true NHL pro the way he approaches his job."

  • related content

  • CHART: About Tom Gilbert

    Monday February 27, 2012

    Position: DefenseSize: 6-3, 210 pounds.Age: 29High school: Bloomington Jefferson (Class of 2001)Drafted: Fifth round, 129th overall, by Colorado in 2002....

  • Another trade: Wild sends Zanon to Bruins

    Monday February 27, 2012

    Minnesota gets Steven Kampfer, a puck-moving defenseman.

  • CHART: Wild leaders in games played

    Monday February 27, 2012

    Nick Schultz (2001-12) 743Pierre-Marc Bouchard (2002- ) 527Marian Gaborik (2000-09) 502Andrew Brunette (2001-04, 08-11) 489Mikko Koivu (2005- ) 478Brent Burns...

  • Wild gameday

    Monday February 27, 2012

    Preview: This is a classic battle of the two lowest- scoring teams in the NHL. The Wild averages 2.14 goals...

  • Up next: 6:30 tonight vs. Los Angeles

    TV: NBC Sports Network (100.3-FM )

  • get related content delivered to your inbox

  • manage my email subscriptions

ADVERTISEMENT

San Francisco - J. Peavy 7:07 PM
Kansas City - Y. Ventura
San Diego 10/23/14 7:25 PM
Denver
Detroit 10/26/14 8:30 AM
Atlanta
Buffalo 10/26/14 12:00 PM
NY Jets
St. Louis 10/26/14 12:00 PM
Kansas City
Houston 10/26/14 12:00 PM
Tennessee
Minnesota 10/26/14 12:00 PM
Tampa Bay
Seattle 10/26/14 12:00 PM
Carolina
Baltimore 10/26/14 12:00 PM
Cincinnati
Miami 10/26/14 12:00 PM
Jacksonville
Chicago 10/26/14 12:00 PM
New England
Philadelphia 10/26/14 3:05 PM
Arizona
Oakland 10/26/14 3:25 PM
Cleveland
Indianapolis 10/26/14 3:25 PM
Pittsburgh
Green Bay 10/26/14 7:30 PM
New Orleans
Washington 10/27/14 7:30 PM
Dallas
Houston 6:00 PM
Orlando
Brooklyn 6:30 PM
Boston
Washington 6:30 PM
New York
Cleveland 7:00 PM
Memphis
Minnesota 7:00 PM
Milwaukee
Atlanta 7:30 PM
San Antonio
Portland 9:00 PM
LA Lakers
Phoenix 9:30 PM
LA Clippers
Toronto 6:00 PM
Ottawa
Philadelphia 7:00 PM
Pittsburgh
Washington 8:30 PM
Edmonton
Buffalo 9:30 PM
Anaheim
Arkansas State 40 FINAL
Louisiana 55
Connecticut 10/23/14 6:00 PM
(18) East Carolina
Miami-Florida 10/23/14 7:00 PM
Virginia Tech
So Florida 10/24/14 6:00 PM
Cincinnati
Troy 10/24/14 6:30 PM
South Alabama
BYU 10/24/14 8:00 PM
Boise State
(6) Oregon 10/24/14 9:00 PM
California
North Texas 10/25/14 11:00 AM
Rice
UAB 10/25/14 11:00 AM
Arkansas
Rutgers 10/25/14 11:00 AM
(16) Nebraska
Maryland 10/25/14 11:00 AM
Wisconsin
Texas 10/25/14 11:00 AM
(11) Kansas State
Minnesota 10/25/14 11:00 AM
Illinois
Memphis 10/25/14 11:00 AM
SMU
North Carolina 10/25/14 11:30 AM
Virginia
San Jose St 10/25/14 12:00 PM
Navy
Northern Ill 10/25/14 12:00 PM
Eastern Mich
(25) UCLA 10/25/14 1:00 PM
Colorado
Akron 10/25/14 1:00 PM
Ball State
Massachusetts 10/25/14 1:00 PM
Toledo
Ohio U 10/25/14 1:00 PM
Western Mich
Ga Southern 10/25/14 1:00 PM
Georgia State
Kent State 10/25/14 1:30 PM
Miami-Ohio
Oregon State 10/25/14 2:30 PM
Stanford
Fla Atlantic 10/25/14 2:30 PM
(23) Marshall
Louisiana Tech 10/25/14 2:30 PM
Southern Miss
(1) Miss State 10/25/14 2:30 PM
Kentucky
Georgia Tech 10/25/14 2:30 PM
Pittsburgh
(22) West Virginia 10/25/14 2:30 PM
Oklahoma State
Texas Tech 10/25/14 2:30 PM
(10) TCU
Michigan 10/25/14 2:30 PM
(8) Michigan State
Boston College 10/25/14 2:30 PM
Wake Forest
Central Mich 10/25/14 2:30 PM
Buffalo
Vanderbilt 10/25/14 3:00 PM
Missouri
Old Dominion 10/25/14 3:00 PM
Western Ky
UNLV 10/25/14 3:00 PM
Utah State
Temple 10/25/14 4:00 PM
UCF
(15) Arizona 10/25/14 5:00 PM
Washington St
Texas-El Paso 10/25/14 6:00 PM
TX-San Antonio
Wyoming 10/25/14 6:00 PM
Colorado State
Syracuse 10/25/14 6:00 PM
(21) Clemson
Texas State 10/25/14 6:00 PM
ULM
(3) Ole Miss 10/25/14 6:15 PM
(24) LSU
(4) Alabama 10/25/14 6:30 PM
Tennessee
So Carolina 10/25/14 6:30 PM
(5) Auburn
(13) Ohio State 10/25/14 7:00 PM
Penn State
(20) USC 10/25/14 9:00 PM
(19) Utah
(14) Arizona State 10/25/14 9:45 PM
Washington
Nevada 10/25/14 10:59 PM
Hawaii
Chivas USA 8:30 PM
Real Salt Lake
Montreal 10/24/14 5:30 PM
Ottawa
Saskatchewan 10/24/14 8:30 PM
Calgary
Hamilton 10/25/14 3:00 PM
Toronto
Brt Columbia 10/25/14 6:00 PM
Winnipeg
Connect with twitterConnect with facebookConnect with Google+Connect with PinterestConnect with PinterestConnect with RssfeedConnect with email newsletters

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

question of the day

Poll: Who is your favorite Wild player?

Weekly Question

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

 
Close