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Brandon Duhaime trade on the players, Wild veteran Marcus Foligno says

TEMPE, Ariz. — General manager Bill Guerin pulled the trigger on a trade on Thursday that didn’t exactly cause ripples throughout the NHL, but it was a tough one to swallow in the Wild dressing room.

A little more than 24 hours from Friday afternoon’s trade deadline, Wild general manager Bill Guerin sent forward Brandon Duhaime to Colorado for a third-round pick in the 2026 entry draft.

“It’s tough,” veteran Marcus Foligno said. “Because as much as we razz the guy, that means everyone loves him. That’s a guy that everyone really gravitated toward. Awesome guy, work ethic on and off the ice, too. It’s tough to lose guys like that. They mean a lot to all the guys in the room.”

The Wild will face their former teammate on the other side Friday when they meet the Avalanche for an 8 p.m. puck drop in Denver. Before that, they had to carry on Thursday against the Coyotes at Mullett Arena.

Duhaime, 26, has four goals and eight points in 62 games. An unrestricted free agent at season’s end, he had 19 goals and 16 assists in 193 NHL games, all in Minnesota. He is making $1.1 million and will become an unrestricted free agent at season’s end.

Guiern said it was difficult to cut ties but “I think where he’s headed, money wise, it was gonna make it really tough.”

Guerin might be in sell mode, but the Wild aren’t officially eliminated from the playoff race; it’s just a steep climb. With 20 regular-season games remaining, they were nine points out before Thursday’s games.

For Foligno, losing Duhaime to a sure contender — the Avs were fourth in the West, four points behind first-place Vancouver on Thursday — was a reminder of how close the Wild have come a few times to climbing out of the hole they dug themselves with a 5-10-4 start to the season.

“We’re in a position that you think if shoulda, coulda, woulda in other areas, we wouldn’t be doing this,” the Wild alternate captain said. “It’s frustrating. I think that’s the biggest thing.

“It’s not necessarily (Dean Evason) being fired, it’s more like we put ourselves in a position to see guys have to leave, and I think that’s on us players. We’ve gotta blame ourselves when you lose buddies. I’ve been a part of it in Buffalo every trade deadline, and it’s not fun.”

Duhaime did not return a text message seeking comment Thursday. Ryan Hartman has played with Duhaime a number of times this season and said he always enjoyed it.

“He plays with passion, he plays hard, he brings it every night. It’s gonna be good for him,” the veteran forward said.

Chance for Beckman

Adam Beckman was recalled from the Wild’s AHL club in Iowa and was set to take Duhaime’s spot in the lineup Thursday. A third-round pick in the 2019 entry draft, he made his NHL debut in 2021-22 but hasn’t played a game with the Wild this season.

Beckman, 22, has 10 points in his past 10 games in Des Moines (7-3–10) but no points in 12 career NHL games.

“It’s always positive when a player can come up and he’s playing good hockey,” coach John Hynes said. “Lots of times, (that player) is playing with confidence and has a little bit of swagger to his game when you get recalled. So, that’s exciting for him.”

Khusnutdinov on his way

Marat Khusnutdinov, the young Russian center the Wild signed to a two-year, two-way contract on Feb. 28, has his work visa and is scheduled to arrive in Minnesota late Saturday, Guerin said.

The general manager said he was unsure of how much Khusnutdinov has been skating, so he was unsure when the 2020 second-round pick would be able to slide into the Wild lineup.

It’s unrealistic to expect him to play in an afternoon puck drop Sunday against Nashville at Xcel Energy Center.

“I can’t say,” Guerin said. “We don’t want to put him in a bad spot. We’re not just going to throw him in there and risk him getting injured.”

Briefly

Foligno went through Thursday’s morning skate but was not available against Arizona while he continues to rehab from a lower body injury. He hasn’t played in a game since leaving a 3-2 victory over Pittsburgh on Feb. 9. … The Wild placed Marcus Johansson on injured reserve with a lower body injury. He is not on the trip. The veteran has nine goals and 27 points in 61 games for Minnesota this season. … Marc-Andre Fleury will play in goal against the Coyotes. Asked if Filip Gustavsson will play against the Avs on Friday, Hynes said, “We’ll just go (with) Fleury tonight and then re-evaluate.”