The Wild will look different for the rest of the season, with the team acquiring future Hall of Famer and reigning Vezina Trophy winner Marc-Andre Fleury from the Blackhawks on Monday before the NHL trade deadline expired.
This deal cost the Wild a conditional roster from the first round of 2022, which will change to a runoff election if the Wild doesn’t reach the Western Conference finals and Fleury isn’t in the net for four wins or more in the first two rounds .
The Blackhawks also kept half of Fleury’s salary. He will be an unrestricted free agent after the season and waived his no-trade clause to facilitate the deal.
Fleury will back up Cam Talbot for the Wild Monday night when the team takes on the Golden Knights at Xcel Energy Center.
Marc-Andre Fleury career stats
“They are built for the play-offs,” Fleury said at a press conference after arriving. “I’m excited to be here with a team that should be in the playoffs with a chance to make a point.”
In a separate transaction, the team shipped goalkeeper Kaapo Kahkonen and a 2022 fifth-round pick (originally from San Jose) to the Sharks for left-shot defender Jacob Middleton.
Wild General Manager Bill Guerin, who played with Fleury on a Stanley Cup winner, said Talbot was one of the first people to contact Fleury.
“I was a little worried about chemistry … because it’s been going really well this year,” Guerin said. “But they can all help our team and I’m so confident in the group we already have that they will welcome these guys.
‘I know Flower. I know him well. And I know what he can do.’
The Wild also traded Victor Rask to Seattle for future considerations, paying 50 percent of his remaining contract, and assigning forward Connor Dewar to the American Hockey League in a paper move to make Dewar eligible to return to Iowa; Dewar will stay with the Wild, consuming one of the team’s four available recalls for the remainder of the season.
Fleury, 37, is 19-21-5 with an average of 2.95 goals conceded and a save rate of 0.908 this season with Chicago, who took him over from Vegas in the off-season. Before that, Fleury, the No. 1 overall pick in 2003, won three Stanley Cups with Pittsburgh, a tenure that overlapped with Wild General Manager Bill Guerin when he was a player with the Penguins and then moved to their front office.
Kahkonen went 12-8 with the Wild this season with an average of 2.87 goals conceded and a save rate of 0.910. In general, he leaves the organization after 31-17-4 with an average of 2.89 goals conceded and a save rate of 0.907. The 25-year-old is technically a rookie, although he was the backup last season, playing 24 games.
Talbot will be under contract next season before his three-year contract expires. De Wild fielded keeper Jesper Wallstedt in the first round (20th overall) in 2021, and the 19-year-old plays for Lulea HF, the second team in Sweden’s top league with 14 teams this season.
Middleton, 26, has three goals and six assists in 45 appearances for the Sharks and averages 19:03 time on ice. He was the final pick, 210th overall, of the 2014 NHL Draft, by the Los Angeles Kings.
Earlier Monday, the Wild sent the rights of Jack McBain, a former third-round voter who played four seasons at Boston College, to the Arizona Coyotes for a second round in 2022. McBain told the Wild he would not sign, and a free broker in mid-August.
Fleury will take the No. 29 jersey from defender Dmitry Kulikov and Kulikov will switch to No. 7. Middleton will wear No. 5.