Wild GM swings away, sacrifices picks to rent Martin Hanzal

The Minnesota Wild have earned this.

They’ve earned the trade GM Chuck Fletcher pulled off on Sunday night, acquiring centers Martin Hanzal and Ryan White from the Arizona Coyotes for a package of lofty draft picks.

“Our players have played hard. They deserve management to step up with how hard they played,” said Fletcher, whose team sits atop the Western Conference with a 39-14-6 record and 84 points.

“There isn’t going to be a called third strike here. We’re taking a swing. Our players deserve that. Our fans deserve that.”

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The Wild acquired centers Martin Hanzal and Ryan White and a 2017 fourth-round choice for a 2017 first-round draft choice, a 2018 second-round draft choice and a 2019 conditional fourth-round draft choice that could become as high as a second-rounder.

“We’re looking to add some size, some experience, some versatility to round out our roster,” said Fletcher. “The second goal is not to give up any of our prospects. Teams have been calling about our guys for a while. That’s the preferred method of payment.”

Indeed, the goal was to “acquire some assets without giving up any of our top prospects,” as Fletcher put it. After all, he’s traded his share of draft picks in the past, and assistant general manager Brent Flahr has still managed to fill the cupboard with blue-chip prospects.

Hanzal is an asset Fletcher coveted. Partially because he knows what adding him to centers Eric Staal and Mikko Koivu could mean for the Wild’s postseason chances.Partially because he knows others coveted him, too. “The goal was to have him play for us, and also to keep him away from other teams in the West,” he said.

Even through Fletcher didn’t touch his treasure chest of prospects, it’s still a significant price to pay for two players that are unrestricted free agents after the season. In Hanzel’s case, it sounds very much like he’s traded for a rental.

“He was the top rental on the market, if you will,” said Fletcher.

“Anything’s possible. For right now, we’re putting our chips in the middle of the table for this year,” he said. “With respect to the summer, there’s an expansion draft, who knows where the cap will be, free agents … for right now, our focus is on this next stretch of the regular season.”

And then the games that follow them, as Fletcher and the Minnesota Wild take their best shot at winning the Stanley Cup.

Greg Wyshynski is a writer for Yahoo Sports. Contact him at puckdaddyblog@yahoo.com or find him on Twitter. His book, TAKE YOUR EYE OFF THE PUCK, is available on Amazon and wherever books are sold.