The Wild got out in front of the rental market.
Just prior to Tuesday’s game against the Edmonton Oilers, the Wild and Florida Panthers consummated a deal that brought veteran winger Sean Bergenheim to the Wild along with a 2016 seventh-round pick for a 2016 third-round pick.
“Sooner the better. No sense waiting to [Monday’s] deadline,” General Manager Chuck Fletcher said. “Looking for a guy with some experience, looking for depth with three forwards out. We were looking to find a proven guy with playoff experience who’s willing to compete, go to the net and pursue pucks. Sean brings all those attributes.”
In 489 career games with the Islanders, Lightning and Panthers, Bergenheim has scored 95 goals and 179 points. He has especially produced in the playoffs with 12 goals and 17 points in 23 games.
He skates well, is strong defensively and can play up in a top-6 role if needed. He loves to shoot the puck.
Bergenheim, 31, frustrated with his lack of ice time and a string of healthy scratches in Florida, asked to be traded recently. The price all month had been a second-round pick.
Fletcher, who has been adamant that he won’t trade his first-round pick, top prospects or second-round pick after trading three in the past two years, traded this year’s third to Arizona for goalie Devan Dubnyk.
So Fletcher offered next year’s third and counterpart Dale Tallon finally took it for Bergenheim, who last played Feb. 12 at Minnesota.
“Sean was frustrated with his lack of ice time and came to me,” Tallon told Florida reporters. “He was injured a lot, injured a lot his whole career. But when he was healthy, he played hard, he played well. We had that big playoff run for us a couple years and had a good year that year and he had been injured ever since.”
Bergenheim filed a grievance against the Panthers in 2013 after the team claimed he sustained a sports hernia playing in Finland during the lockout and didn’t play him. Bergenheim said the injury occurred during that 2011-12 playoff run, and he won the grievance and got his salary.
Bergenheim, a 2002 first-round pick by the Islanders, is the Wild’s sixth Finn on the roster and is expected to meet the team Wednesday afternoon in Nashville, where he may debut Thursday. He had eight goals and 18 points in 39 games with the Panthers this season.
It would not be shocking if Bergenheim’s acquisition opens the door to trading veteran Kyle Brodziak, a center who has been playing wing the past few weeks and who’s in the last year of his contract.
The Wild has also inquired about Arizona skilled center Antoine Vermette, but the price is high right now. Fletcher is only looking to trade lesser assets, but the Wild has struggled all year in the faceoff circle beyond Mikko Koivu and Vermette’s seventh in the NHL in the circle.
The Wild is also in search of a depth defenseman, preferably a left-shot one.