For the second straight year, the Minnesota Wild have added an impact winger in a trade with the Buffalo Sabres.
Last year, it was Jason Pominville. This time around, the Wild snagged UFA-to-be Matt Moulson in a deal right at the wire. Coming along with Moulson is grinder Cody McCormick, and going back the other way are Torrey Mitchell and a 2nd round pick.
It's a great deal for Minnesota, not just because they added Moulson, who will slot into their top-six and add a little more scoring punch to a team that looks poised for their second straight playoff berth, but because they managed to lose the final year of Mitchell's three-year, $5.7 million contract.
When he signed the deal, there was a thought that he might be a third-line winger, but it never really happened, and with the Wild continuing to revamp their forward corps in Mitchell's first season in Minnesota, adding guys like Zach Parise, getting a healthy Pierre-Marc Bouchard, and bringing in youngsters like Nino Neiderreiter and Charlie Coyle, he never really found a permanent fit. That the club was able to rid themselves of that minor problem and get one of the prized pieces of the deadline is impressive.
Where will Moulson fit? Tough to say, but Parise's looked good on a line with Mikael Granlund and Pominville, and if head coach Mike Yeo opts to keep that trio together, Moulson could slot in beside Mikko Koivu and Charlie Coyle, giving the Wild two potent lines.
As for the Sabres, this really is the second half of a trade that began at the beginning of the year, when they parted with Thomas Vanek. In exchange for Vanek, they received Moulson, a 1st, and a 2nd, and now they've flipped Moulson for another 2nd and Torrey Mitchell. Is three draft picks and problem contract for Thomas Vanek enough? I'd say no, especially when Sabres fans need some hope. A bunch of picks aren't going to do it.
Fortunately, it would be worse. The Islanders gave up a lot to get Vanek, and wound up moving him for less than they paid, making him the first mid-season-to-deadline rental in recent memory.