The Departed...Shipping up to Boston? This works on two levels!
The trade deadline has come and gone and there's only one minor trade which affects the Wild. Snuck between Los Angeles trading for Dustin Penner, Chuck Fletcher added a Penner of his own by trading Houston Aeros goalie Anton Khudobin for Jeff Penner and Mikko Lehtonen. On first glance, I like this trade for Minnesota. Despite the obvious joke of the Wild trading for a Penner, not the Penner (which pretty much sums up every Minnesota trade deadline), the team wasn't going to do much with their chemistry yet traded from a position of strength.
The most surprising thing was that someone wanted to trade for Khudobin. I didn't even put him on the "if these moves happen" list because it was hard to see Khudobin's value being met. While it's been obvious since the start of the season that Minnesota does not have a place in the future for Khudobin. In addition, the Wild are planning to add Darcy Kuemper (playing in the WHL this eason) and Dennis Endras (playing in Germany this season) to Matthew Hackett and Houston/Bakersfield next season.
With Khudobin being an unrestricted free agent and threatening to go to Russia, any return for him is appreciated. In this case, the return is a AHL defenseman (Penner) and rights to one of the top scorers in the Swedish Elite League (Lehtonen). The key to the deal will be getting Lehtonen over, but in the end this is a low-risk, high-reward trade for the Wild.
This is Dan, I was working on a post like this when I saw Nate beat me to the punch. So I thought I'd add a few thoughts on top of this, instead of simply adding to the post count by rehashing the same concept.
This trade works on a number of levels, like Nate mentioned; With Drew Bagnall and Tyler Cuma out with injury in Houston, Penner steps in to fill a roster spot, and also help contribute some offense too; in a way he looks to be similar to Maxim Noreau: a smallish defenseman with offensive acumen. While Houston's goalie depth takes an immediate hit with the departure of Anton Khudobin (Josh Tordjman is expected to join Houston as Matt Hackett's backup) the reality is that Khudobin doesn't fit into the long-term picture; not with Hackett in Houston, and Darcy Kuemper (expected to join the Aeros following his season in Red Deer,) Dennis Endras (coming over from Germany next fall,) and 2010 Draft Pick Johan Gustafsson in the hopper. There's no room, and while its nice to get four wins from the 2004 Seventh Rounder, we must say adieu.
Khubobin's going to a good situation though; he's now a form of insurance in Boston, in case Tim Thomas or Tuukka Rask get hurt. After that who knows, because well, its not our problem anymore.
I think the real key to this deal was Mikko Lehtonen. Lehtonen scored 28 and 23 goals in his two AHL seasons in Providence, and has 29 goals and 56 points in 57 games in Swedish Elite League this year. Lehtonen's still trying to round out his game but has intriguing upside for a big kid (6'4", 200 lbs.) and the hope is that he comes back over to North America next year; he left Boston because he didn't feel like he had a chance to crack the roster.
Really, in the end, its surprising that Chuck Fletcher was able to get something in return for Khudobin, who was gonna be let go at season's end. Just how much we get in return is dependent upon what Penner does for Houston, and what we can make of Lehtonen, who will be presented with the chance to make Minnesota's roster out of camp.