The Minnesota Wild kicked off what could be a very busy trade deadline on Monday night as they dealt longtime winger Jason Zucker to the Pittsburgh Penguins in exchange for Alex Galchenyuk, Calen Addison and the Penguins' 2020 first-round pick. The deal was first reported by TSN's Bob McKenzie and confirmed by the Wild.
Zucker has been a mainstay on the Wild after being selected as the 59th overall pick in the 2010 NHL Entry Draft. During his nine years in Minnesota, Zucker ranked fourth in franchise history with 132 goals and ninth with 243 points.
In addition to his accomplishments on the ice, his charity work off of it including the Zucker Family Suite and Broadcast Studio at the Minnesota Masonic Children's Hospital helped him win the King Clancy Memorial Trophy last season.
But with the Wild tied for last place in the Central Division, General Manager Bill Guerin has opted to put his own stamp on the team he took over in September. In this deal, he did business with his old club, acquiring a pair of young players and a lottery-protected first-rounder in next June's entry draft.
Galchenyuk projects as a player that can play multiple positions, but his pending free agent status means he could be more of a piece that was used to make the salaries match. As NHL.com's Dan Rosen pointed out, his chances of being a long-term fixture in Minnesota are slim.
"Theoretically he can play himself into a new contract with the Wild," Rosen said. "But that has to be viewed as a long shot now. The Wild look to be going young, starting a rebuild or retool."
That makes the trade more about Addison and the first-round pick. While the first-round pick does have a lottery protection on it in case the Penguins miss the playoffs, Addison appears to be the crown jewel of the deal as a top defenseman prospect.
As the 53rd overall pick in the 2018 NHL Entry Draft, Addison made the final roster for Team Canada in the 2020 World Junior Championship and made a major impression thanks to a heavy slapshot and offensive presence that the Wild could use on the blue line, but Dobber Prospects' Mark Allan states that there's still work to do before he turns pro next season.
"Playing with great poise and confidence for Canada’s World Junior Championship-winning squad, the young blueliner enhanced his reputation as a future NHL power-play weapon," Allan said in a January report.. "Often the only Canadian back with a man advantage, Addison tied for sixth among all scorers with nine points (including eight assists) in seven games."
The 19-year-old has been tremendous for the Lethbridge Hurricanes in the WHL this season, scoring 10 goals with 33 assists and 43 points in 39 games. With Addison now in the picture, the attention will turn to a suddenly crowded blue line, which SKOR North's Declan Goff seems to think will transition into another move prior to the deadline.
With the Zucker move official, the Wild are now in full sell-mode at the deadline and as this trade showed, anyone could be available prior to Feb. 24.