Undistinguished Moments in Minnesota's Trade History: Michalek for Wood and Westrum
Posted by Dan Shrader on Monday, July 25, 2011
Narrated By This Picture of Bill Kurtis
Its late July, truly the doldrums of the NHL off-season; since there is little news, if any, during this portion of the year, sometimes it is best to take a look back into the past because for now, the future is a cold case. So for now we will investigate some of the great tragedies self-inflicted by the Minnesota Wild: Undistinguished Moments in Minnesota's Trade History.
Today we will look at the deal that sent Zbynek Michalek to the Phoenix Coyotes for Erik Westrum and Dustin Wood.
Michalek was signed as an undrafted free agent out of Shawinigan of the Quebec Major Junior League in 2003, and played in 193 games over three seasons with the Houston Aeros. He put up 59 points, and was a part of the 2003 Calder Cup winning edition of the Aeros. He also saw 22 games of NHL action with Minnesota in 2003-04, adding a goal and an assist.
Westrum and Wood were both in the Phoenix system, playing for The Utah Grizzlies. Westrum, a center, had 18 goals and 33 points in 80 games, while Wood, a defenseman, had 2 goals and 10 points in 80 games also.
So on paper it looked like a nice swap of minor leaguers- because after all Michalek was way down on the depth chart behind such luminaries as Daniel Tjarnqvist, Alex Henry, Erik Reitz, and Turd Ferguson.
(ok it was Scott Ferguson but this makes a better storyline.)
Dustin Wood seemed more of a throw-in because WE GOT A LOCAL BOY!!!!! The provincialists rejoiced as Minnesota Native Westrum was brought into a organization that clearly lacked a vital element; that's right, you guessed it...Minnesotans. There was outrage from the locals, as Westrum lit the AHL on fire with the Aeros with 98 points in 71 games. And the Wild sucked again that year, but the cries of "FREE WESTY" fell on the deaf ears of Doug Risebrough, who only let him play 10 games in a Wild Sweater.
But the real outrage should have been that Zbynek Michalek turned into "The Defenseman Every Team Wants" because of his durability, mobility, shot-blocking, and all around defensive prowess. And because of this, Pittsburgh backed up the Brinks truck to Michalek's front door last off-season, shelling out 20 million over 5 years for his services.
That's right, the guy "buried down on the depth chart" (I'm sure there is a cesspool analogy that is apropos here) turns out to be a key cog in Phoenix' resurgence, and ends up getting a big fat stack of cash from a perennially Cup-contending team.
Wood and Westrum? Shown the door right after the last day of the 2005-06 season, and likely never to be heard or seen of again, unless you recognize them lining up opposite from you in Tuesday Night Beer League.
I'm Bill Kurtis, and this trade really, really sucked. Stay tuned as we take a look back at more Undistinguished Moments in Minnesota's Trade History.