At this time about a year ago, Paul Fenton was still in charge of the Wild’s decisionmaking. He made a series of three significant trades, sending out mainstays Charlie Coyle, Nino Niederreiter and Mikael Granlund — all big parts of several playoff teams with the Wild — for Ryan Donato, Victor Rask and Kevin Fiala.
The only draft pick that came back as part of any of those deals was part of the Coyle deal, one that became a fourth-rounder when the Bruins made a playoff run. In a quote that attached to Fenton and wouldn’t let go, the GM said of the straight up Granlund-for-Fiala swap: “I think this is fair market value. This is a hockey trade.”
Fiala’s ascent this season has made the trade more palatable, but it’s fair to wonder if Fenton could have received more for a proven commodity like Granlund — and whether he certainly could have gotten back more draft capital in the other two trades, particularly the Niederreiter deal.
It was refreshing by contrast, then, to see what new GM Bill Guerin was able to do in making his first major deal as the Wild’s head decision-maker.
In dealing Jason Zucker to Pittsburgh on Monday, Guerin executed a textbook “modern hockey trade” — getting a game-ready replacement for Zucker on an expiring contract in Alex Galchenyuk, someone who has scored at least 17 goals each of the last five seasons but doesn’t fit into long-term plans; a promising prospect in 19-year-old defenseman Calen Addison; and the Penguins’ first-round draft pick in 2020.
The Wild gained payroll flexibility next year by getting Zucker’s contract off the books since Galchenyuk is on an expiring deal, and they created a top-six forward role that will hopefully be filled nicely next season if Kirill Kaprizov comes over from Russia.
A modern hockey trade in 2020. Maybe there is hope for the future after all.