Today is the NHL trade deadline day and many general managers have been making moves. Minnesota Wild general manager Bill Guerin has made two this morning. Yesterday the Wild traded the rights of Boston College’s Jack McBain to the Arizona Coyotes for a 2022 second-round pick which was previously Vancouver’s.
This morning a couple of minutes before Kaapo Kahkonen and a fifth-round pick were traded to San Jose for Jacob Middleton, the Wild acquired Marc-Andre Fleury from the Chicago Blackhawks for a conditional second-round pick.
As Michael Russo from The Athletic states the second-round pick will be a first if the Wild win two rounds in the playoffs and Fleury wins at least four games in those rounds.
So What Does Jacob Middleton Bring?
The 6-foot-3 inch defender is not afraid to drop the gloves. Middleton is second in the NHL in fights with nine, in front of Marcus Foligno (eight) and behind Nicolas Deslauriers (ten). Not only is the former seventh-round pick by the Los Angles Kings tops in the league in fights, but he also plays a valuable defensive role outside of the fighting.
Middleton is a shutdown defender who doesn’t shy away from using his 220-pound frame to lay a big hit. The 26-year old is an RFA after this season and is a fantastic penalty-killing defender. He adds a versatile shutdown role to Minnesota and a physical presence this team needs. The native of Wainwright, Canada is third in the NHL in penalty minutes amongst defenders. He also ranks third in the NHL in penalties drawn amongst defensemen.
Middleton has spent a lot of time with San Jose Sharks Erik Karlsson this year, that pair ranks 17th in the NHL in expected goals against and 23rd in the NHL in expected goals percentage. Minimum of 400 minutes played together.
Middleton’s 19 takeaways this year ranks second on the Wild behind Jonas Brodin who has 21. His 6.23 blocked shots per 60 minutes rank first on the Wild ahead of Jon Merrill who has 5.7 blocked shots per 60. Middleton’s 89 hits rank second on the Wild behind Matt Dumba who has 96.
In conclusion, Jacob Middleton is a solid add for the Wild who will provide a spark on the penalty kill and will add a physical presence to the defensive core. In a sense, the Wild traded a second-round pick, a fifth-round pick, and Kaapo Kahkonen for a future hall of fame goalie in Marc-Andre Fleury and a PK specialist in Jacob Middleton. If I were to grade the Wild’s accusations so far, it would be an A+ for me. Adding depth and physical presence along with an experienced playoff goaltender could take this team far in the playoffs.
The trade deadline isn’t done yet but, so far so good for Bill Guerin and his Minnesota Wild staff.