A ‘Wild’ goalie shakeup: Marc-Andre Fleury in, Kaapo Kahkonen on move to San Jose

The Minnesota Wild made a trade with Chicago for Marc-Andre Fleury, the reigning Vezina Award winner and a three-time Stanley Cup champion.( Dennis Wierzbicki-USA TODAY Sports)
The Minnesota Wild made a trade with Chicago for Marc-Andre Fleury, the reigning Vezina Award winner and a three-time Stanley Cup champion.( Dennis Wierzbicki-USA TODAY Sports) /

Monday,, March 21. 36-20-4. 98. Wild -1.5. 34-26-4. Bally Sports North . 7 p.m. . 942

Minnesota Wild general manager Bill Guerin said last week that he still had confidence with the tandem Cam Talbot and Kappo Kahkonen in net.

How much confidence was  apparent on Monday morning, however. The Wild completed a trade with Chicago for goalie Marc-Andre Fleury, `a move that was speculated to happen leading to the NHL trade deadline.

The Wild return a conditional second-round pick in the trade that becomes a first-rounder if the Wild advance to the Western Conference Final. The move not only strengthens the Wild goaltending but also the position that the franchise is ‘all-in’ on making a postseason run.

Sean Gentille of The Athletic gave both teams an ‘A’ for the trade.

He wrote:

"Those guys weren’t good enough. Fleury is, at least for now. As Guerin and the Wild cruise toward the bill coming due for Zach Parise and Ryan Suter, this season — this run — becomes even more important. Winning a Cup in Minnesota is about to get a lot harder. Might as well take your best swing, especially in a top-heavy Western Conference. In other words: Did anyone really think Cam Talbot was going to beat the Avalanche?"

Talbot, who has won his last five starts, will be in net in Monday night’s matchup with the Vegas Golden Knights, the team that Fleury led to a win over the Wild in a seven-game first round Stanley Cup playoff series last spring.

Fleury  is expected to be in St. Paul as Talbot’s backup as the Wild also traded Kahkonen to the San Jose Sharks for defenseman Jacob Middleton and a fifth-round pick.

The move comes after the Wild traded prospect Jack McBain to Arizona in exchange for a second-round selected in this summer’s NHL Entry Draft.

The 22-year-old was selected by Minnesota in the third round of the 2018 draft and had 19 goals and 32 points for Boston College this season, as well as two points in five games for Canada in the Winter Olympics.

Minnesota has eight picks in this summer’s draft, two of which are in the second round.

Fleury had a 2.96 goals against average and a .908 save percentage in 45 starts for the Blackhawks this season.  The 37-year-old has 511 wins in his NHL career and a 2.57 GAA to go along with the three Stanley Cups he has won in 2009, ’16 and ’17, all as a member of the Pittsburgh Penguins, and also was in net for the Golden Knights run to the Cup Final in ‘18.  The first Cup title came with Guerin as a teammate.

Fleury was traded to Chicago in July after a season in which he posted a 1.98 GAA and a .928 SV% and was awared the Vezina Trophy as the league’s top goalie.

Betting odds 

The Wild vs Golden Knights odds on .WynnBET has Minnesota favored by 1.5 goals at the Xcel Energy Center.  Minnesota also is the favorite on the moneyline at -170 . Vegas is the underdog at +150, and  the over/under for the matchup is listed at 6.5 total goals.

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Upcoming Wild schedule

Thursday, March 24: Vancouver, 7 p.m. CST

Saturday, March 26: Columbus, 7 p.m.

Sunday, March 27: Colorado, 5 p.m.