The Minnesota Wild and GM Chuck Fletcher were at it again, making a splash at the April 3 trade deadline by signing Buffalo Sabres captain and winger Jason Pominville. In return, the Wild gave up prospects Johan Larsson and Matt Hackett, as well as a first-round draft pick this year and a second-round pick in 2014.
The trade obviously affected Larsson and Hackett most heavily, as the two were pulled from the ice during warm-ups for the San Jose game. Both are solid prospects and stand a good chance of finding their way into NHL lineups.
Hackett has proven NHL experience and could be a good fit in Buffalo where Ryan Miller appears set for a departure.
Larsson has 37 points in 62 games for the AHL Houston Aeros this season and a brief tenure with the NHL affiliate. While other prospects Charlie Coyle, Mikael Granlund and Jason Zucker made more frequent trips with the Wild, Larsson didn’t find room in the roster as easily.
The addition of Pominville tightens the Wild’s roster as far as prospects looking to move up are concerned. Pominville is a proven NHL player, an All-Star and a 30-goal scorer last season. Yeo said he’ll be jumping in on the right wing with Minnesota.
With Pominville on the right wing, Coyle is being shifted to center. Wild fans will certainly hope the talented first-year NHL-er can find as much success there as he did on the top line.
The right wing is also a position Houston’s Justin Fontaine has his eyes on. Fontaine has made his way to the top of the Aero’s scoring list with 46 points (18G + 28A) in 55 games and holds a stout +9 in the +/- rating column.
Fletcher’s willingness to move prospects and picks for a proven player speaks to his faith in the Aeros and the Wild’s prospect pool. With forwards Brett Bulmer and Mario Lucia and blue liners Matt Dumba and Marco Scandella waiting in the wings, Minnesota’s pipeline still has loads of promise.
Moving Hackett is definitely a nod to the young netminder Darcy Keumper, as well. The Wild gave future considerations to Anaheim for goaltender Jeff Deslauriers, but it’s clear Keumper is the guy to start backing up Niklas Backstrom on a regular basis.
Pominville’s move prompted a lot of talk about the Wild going all-in on a Cup run this season, but really, Minny’s program has a talented list of top-flight players situated for a long stay. The prospects still have plenty of time to work their way up to hockey’s highest echelon of professional play.