Alexander Shun | @alexpshun
Digital Content Manager | KFAN.com
The Minnesota Wild are 'all-in' on the 2016-17 season and it showed on Sunday night as they dealt a pile of future draft picks to the Arizona Coyotes in exchange for Center Martin Hanzal and Winger Ryan White.
The move isn't exactly a blockbuster trade, but given the amount that Minnesota gave up to acquire such players, one would not be wrong in thinking so.
The Wild surrendered their 2017 first-round pick, their 2018 second-round pick, a conditional fourth-round pick in 2019 (which could become a second-round pick) and forward Grayson Downing.
"I just think this is a year where to me I think our players have played hard. They deserve management and ownership to step up and support them with how hard they've played," Wild General Manager Chuck Fletcher said via conference call on Sunday night. "We are adding quality people. We are adding guys that we think will help us in some areas of need and we've improved our depth and maybe as importantly we've kept our top prospects. We are satisfied with what we've been able to do today."
Hanzal and White add necessary depth to a team that already sits atop the Western Conference and will likely become stronger and tougher given the additions of the Coyotes leading goal scorer (Hanzal) and Coyotes leader in penalty minutes (White).
Minnesota is expected to have both Hanzal and White tonight as they take on a Los Angeles Kings team that made a huge trade recently as well, sending back-up goalie Peter Budaj, Erik Cernak and a conditional 2017 seventh-round pick to the Tampa Bay Lightning in exchange for former All-Star goaltender Ben Bishop.
Bishop, paired with the once-again healthy Jonathan Quick, gives Los Angeles arguably the greatest goaltending duo in the NHL and the hope is that such a dynamic duo will fuel the Kings to a deep playoff run, as the team has seen great goaltending do in years past.
Los Angeles currently sits in the ninth-spot in the Western Conference just three points out of the eighth and final spot, so Wild players and coaches know that they'll be playing a hungry and determined team Monday night.
"We're in for quite a game," Wild Head Coach Bruce Boudreau said, speaking of the upcoming game against the Kings. "L.A. is going to play a really hard game tomorrow and it's going to be a tough battle, there's no doubt in my mind."
The Wild had a five-point lead in the West entering their bye week but have watched as the trailing Chicago Blackhawks have cut their lead to just a single point. With the new additions of Hanzal and White - and potentially even more moves to come - Minnesota is set on making their run to the Stanley Cup and whether or not such a huge trade will get them there remains to be seen. But Fletcher and the Wild are certainly taking their shot.
"Who knows what happens down the stretch here. Anything could happen," Fletcher said. "It could be a great finish. It may not be. But there's not going to be a called third strike here. We are taking a swing. Our players deserve that. Our fans deserve that. We will see where it goes."