WILD: Zidlicky trade has value for team now and later

DALLAS - When the Wild introduce their three new acquisitions at the Xcel Energy Center this morning, the reception will be more "welcome back" than "nice to meet you."...

DALLAS - When the Wild introduce their three new acquisitions at the Xcel Energy Center this morning, the reception will be more "welcome back" than "nice to meet you."

But even though their Friday trade with the New Jersey Devils reads like general manager Chuck Fletcher made a deal with his predecessor, Doug Risebrough, dipping into the team's past to bring back Kurtis Foster and Stephane Veilleux, the key to the trade probably lies somewhere in the future.

The Wild will have two players from their last playoff team, in 2007-08, but the deal that sent Marek Zidlicky to the Devils has more to it than that. Minnesota also got 22-year-old forward Nick Palmieri, a big winger whom some think could be a first- or second-line forward

someday. They acquired the Washington Capitals' second-round pick in the 2012 draft -- sent to the Devils in a deal for Jason Arnott last season -- and a conditional third-round pick in 2013.

And then there's this: Zidlicky was making $4 million this year and had another year on his contract at that price. Foster is making $1.8 million in 2011-12 and is a free agent after the season. If the Wild intend to pursue a big-time free agent this summer, like Nashville's Ryan Suter or the Devils' Zach Parise, they'll have a little more room to do so.


"Any time you can put three players on your NHL team, it certainly makes you better," Fletcher said. "On top of that, we were able to pick up at least one asset, if not two, for the future. There

are elements of this trade that make us better for the long run, and elements that hopefully give us a boost right now as we pursue a playoff spot."

Palmieri, the Devils' third-round draft pick in 2007, has stayed more on the side of potential than production in his short career. He had nine goals and eight assists, along with a plus-9 rating, in 43 games last season, but has just seven points in 29 games this season.

Still, the Wild are short on forward depth. Palmieri won't turn 23 until July, and if he pans out, he could be a big factor in the trade.

"He can play on any line," Foster said. "He skates well and moves the puck, but he's got the toughness to be a fourth-line guy, too. He's a big kid, and he's still young."

In the meantime, the Wild hope they can get production from a pair of familiar faces. Foster, who has 19 power-play goals in his career, gives the team the big right-handed shot from the blue line that they had with Zidlicky. Considering Foster would be tied for the team lead among Wild defensemen in power-play goals this season (two), he should see time there immediately.

"They wanted a guy to help with the power play," Foster said Friday night after talking to Fletcher about the deal. "They need a guy who can shoot the puck, with their power play sputtering. If I can help there, I will."

Foster and Veilleux also will bring a vocal presence to the team. Defenseman Nick Schultz, who played with both players, said they would both help in the dressing room, and Fletcher said multiple players told him Foster and Veilleux would be welcomed back.


"We have a quiet dressing room," Fletcher said. "Speaking to some of the players who have been around here for a while, they felt (Veilleux's) presence would help our room. He was another key component of this."

As much as those players can help now, they're both free agents after the season. It's possible one or both could be back. Veilleux still lives in St. Paul.

But the lasting impact of the trade probably will be Palmieri, the draft pick or two the Wild get from New Jersey and the cap room they'll be able to use this summer.

That means the final synopsis of what they got in return for Zidlicky won't be written for some time.

"I think this sends a message to our players that we're serious about competing," Fletcher said. "Yet, let's not kid ourselves; we're always trying to improve our asset base."

Up next: vs. Sharks, 5 p.m. today, FSN, KFXN-FM 100.3


(c)2012 the Pioneer Press (St. Paul, Minn.)


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