The Minnesota Wild continued their busy offseason as they sent center Eric Staal to the Buffalo Sabres in exchange for winger Marcus Johansson on Wednesday afternoon.
According to Michael Russo of The Athletic, both players had no-trade clauses in their contracts, but neither blocked their new team. Russo also stated that Staal was stunned when he heard of the trade, which features two players in the final year of their current deals.
Staal spent the last four seasons in Minnesota after signing with the Wild prior to the 2016-17 season as a reclamation project. Staal excelled once throwing on a Wild sweater, scoring 111 goals including 42 during the 2017-18 season, but saw his numbers tail off down to 47 points (19 G, 28 A) in 66 games last season.
In exchange, the Wild receive Johansson, who signed a two-year deal with the Sabres last summer. His lone season in Buffalo was a disappointment as the 29-year-old recorded 30 points (9 G, 21 A) in 60 games while the Sabres used him as a center.
The Wild may choose to use Johansson as a wing, where he recorded 24 goals and 58 points with the Washington Capitals during the 2016-17 season and could add to talent on the outside.
Staal's departure however continues to create a void in the middle of the lineup. Even with the acquisition of Nick Bjugstad, the Wild will be looking for an upgrade at center as they head into the offseason.