2012 Minnesota Wild NHL Trade Deadline: Nick Schultz Traded To Edmonton For Tom Gilbert

For once, Minnesota fans have something to discuss on Trade Deadline Day which isn't "wish our UFAs were sold for picks" or "Chris Simon?"

In a pair of deadline deals, Wild General Manager Chuck Fletcher continued to retool his defensive corps. Longtime defenseman Nick Schultz, the only player left from Minnesota's inaugural draft class in 2000, was traded to the Edmonton Oilers for offensive defenseman Tom Gilbert. A couple hours later, Greg Zanon was shipped to Boston for Bruins prospect defenseman Steve Kampfer.

Bloomington Native Tom Gilbert (photo from Zimbio)
On the surface, neither of these deals make Minnesota a better team down the stretch. They still have depth issues and the Wild's blue line is so young that Clayton Stoner is the longest-tenured defenseman and Jared Spurgeon leads the team with 113 games Kurtis Foster (of Friday's trade and an earlier Minnesota stint) leads the team with 182 games (thanks Tommy and Wild PR guy Ryan Stanzel for pointing that out). The Wild are, however, setting themselves up well for the next few seasons.

More on the Nick Schultz trade after the jump
The biggest piece coming back in either deal is "Bloomington native" Tom Gilbert. Besides the fact that Dan Terhaar and Mike Greenlay are smiling at the opportunity to use that expression 20x a game, Gilbert is exactly what Minnesota needs after trading away Marek Zidlicky on Friday. His departure left the team with a crippling lack of offense on the blue line (although it was a nice surprise to see some in Sunday's 4-3 win over San Jose) and BNTG brings that along with the ability to move the puck.

Nick Schultz has been a lynchpin of the Wild blueline for close to a decade but other than nostalgic reasons I am okay to see him go (even if he is not). He's a solid defenseman but like Zidlicky, Nick never seemed to mesh well in head coach Mike Yeo's system; in a perfect world Schultz would not be forced into the role he was playing this season as the reliable #1 shutdown guy.

His veteran presence will also be missed because without Schultz and Zanon, Kurtis Foster is the only defenseman over 30 (and he's 30).

However with the youth movement Fletcher is unofficially bringing in, Schultz was a good trade bait in an organization trying to depend on the Mikael Granlund and Jonas Brodin (who should be able to replace Schultz) of the world down the line. While Gilbert can't be counted on to score 45 points like he did in 2008-2009, he does have experience playing on some mediocre (at best) Edmonton blue lines. It's no surprise to see Gilbert on the market given he's been the Oilers whipping boy for a few seasons but having a guarantee of some offense and not relying on the shot of a Ryan Suter in free agency is important. The cupboard of offensive defenseman is more than bare - it's almost non-existent.

That said, I do have a couple issues I have with this trade. Although the Wild will save money in the next two years - BNTG is owed $3.5M and $3M while Nick Schultz is paid $3.6M in each of the next two - Gilbert's cap hit is 500K higher than Schultz ($4M).

At the same time, it's getting to the point where almost every trade seems to revolve around a Minnesotan or a former Wild player. They presently have 5 guys from the State of Hockey on the roster with another 2 who were in St. Paul last week. Throw in getting back Stephane Veilleix and Foster in the Zidlicky deal, last year's draft (plus maybe Dany Heatley with his Wisconsin ties) and it's like Minnesota is the new Montreal or Atlanta.

I wouldn't have an issue if Fletcher gets a Zach Parise or an Alex Goligoski but the best Minnesotans are not playing for the Wild. If I wanted to watch a team compiled of Minnesotans, I would watch the Gophers. At least they know how to recruit and win with a lineup like that.

But for now, getting an offensive defenseman who is somewhere between Zidlicky and Brent Burns should pay off over the next two seasons.

6 comments:

  1. I don't think getting Gilbert had anything to do with being Minnesotan and had everything to do with playing for Fletch in WSB

    -Jeremy

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  2. They went from 1 Minnesotan to 7 in a year or so? I'm sorry, but that looks statistically unlikely in the extreme to have happened by chance. Don't you think?

    That being said, this looks like a hockey trade to me. We were desperate for a puck-mover *before* Zid was traded. Basically same age, pretty close to the same money (less than 10%, yawn).

    But it is getting harder to believe that "one of us!" isn't at least in the thoughts of the front office these days. I mean, it would be harder to have moved faster to "The Minnesota All-Stars" on purpose than this is supposedly happening "entirely coincidentally". But as long as it really is a hockey trade that makes sense, I'm okay with that.

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  3. Please name the 7 MN roster players?

    Prosser
    Cullen
    Gilbert
    And Lundin (who will not be retained)

    Gilbert was acquired due to Fletch's familiarity with him, as stated above. I agree some fans loooooove the local ties... but to imply Fletcher or Leipold are making decisions based on where people played their HS or college hockey is insane.

    .... Although Gilbert WAS a teammate of Ryan Suter with the Badgers! Leipold's a Milwaukee guy! HEATLEY,,,,, run on BADGERS!!!!

    ;) I kid.

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  4. They've been moving a few in and out this year too. Chad Rau, Jarod Palmer, Jeff Taffe.

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  5. Maybe the hope is that there will be so many Minnesotans on the roster some day, that Terhaar will eventually let that fact slide. "Moorhead native Matt Cullen, to Bloomington native Tom Gilbert, he shoots, he SCOOOOO /*voice crack*/ RRRRESS!

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  6. Jeremy-
    I would agree that Fletcher being familiar with Gilbert (both through WSB and being in-division) is a reason why he coveted him (same reason goes with Kampfer being drafted by Anaheim, of which Brent Flahr was the talent guy and Fletcher had just left)and isolated it would be getting a guy.

    However what is the first thing that anyone says about the trade? It's that they traded for a Bloomington native. Coupled with other moves, the draft and the fact that Minnesotans have a provincial love of the hometown players, it's hard to believe that a team which has missed the playoffs 3 seasons in a row is not catering to their fans somewhat with all the moves picking up Minnesotans. Even Brian Burke doesn't pick up this many guys from the State of Hockey.

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