MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — The Wild return from their week-long bye week tonight to face the Los Angeles Kings at Xcel Energy Center – a day after making the trade that got the attention of the entire league, sending three draft picks and a minor leaguer to Arizona for Martin Hanzal and Ryan White.
Wild general manager Chuck Fletcher didn’t hold back when describing the significance of this trade, calling Hanzal the top rental forward on the market.
“We are taking a swing,” Fletcher said. “Our players deserve that. Our fans deserve that.”
And a swing it is — it was a lot to give up. But when you have this kind of shot at a title, going all-in is the only way to go.
And even if it is, as Fletcher says, pushing his chips to the middle of the table, he didn’t have to give up any Wild players or top prospects. There’s still plenty of chips left in his pocket.
“We believe we can win in here. We’ve shown it,” goalie Devan Dubnyk said. “We have a group in here that can do a lot of damage in playoffs. But when you’re in this situation and you see Chuck make a move like that, that tells us all that he thinks the same thing and he’s going to give us every chance he can.”
Coach Bruce Boudreau loves Hanzal’s size and defensive abilities.
“He can be physical, he’s mean, he’s got a deft little touch, he’s really good on faceoffs, and he was Arizona’s shutdown guy,” Boudreau said. “And I think that actually makes us as deep as any team in the league at that position.”
“And he has a pretty good mean streak in him too,” added forward Chris Stewart. “So he’ll be a welcome addition to our team and I’m pretty sure he’ll be excited to be here, and it’s a key pickup for the stretch here.”
Hanzal and White did not practice with the Wild this morning, because their flights weren’t expected to arrive until the afternoon. But they are expected to play tonight.
Which means their first time on the ice with their new teammates will be in game action.