The NHL trade deadline was almost two weeks ago at this point and the players moved during that hectic, transaction-heavy week are starting to settle into their roles on their new teams across the league. For the Minnesota Wild, they couldn’t do a lot with wanting strictly rentals, but they ended up acquiring four guys before the clock struck 2:00 p.m.
Some have played in minimal games, and some have not played at all, but let’s check in and see how the new dudes are doing.
Certainly the headline deal of the week was the Wild acquiring defenseman John Klingberg from the Anaheim Ducks. Five games into his Minnesota career and it looks like the Wild have taken a broken-down blueliner that spent his season on a miserable team and are utilizing his skills almost perfectly.
He’s not your typical Wild defender, but within this sound structure of a team, he can flourish his offensive game and we’re seeing a rejuvenation of his career back to what he looked like while patrolling the Dallas blue line.
His time has been spent on the bottom pairing for the Wild, but also on the top power play unit — basically a perfect summary of what Dean Evason sees him as. You won’t see him take over games on both ends of the ice, but he can pop in the skill at even strength and then return to being the offensive juggernaut when they have the man advantage.
Plus, in just five games, he already has three assists for the team.
His defensive deficiencies still pop up every now and again, and that’s impossible to just completely hide. But still, when he’s on the ice in a Wild sweater at 5-on-5, Minnesota has the greater share of scoring chances, unblocked shot attempts, and shots on goal — unfortunately he is just below the 50 percent mark when it comes to shot attempts and expected goals (the first two things people look at) but both those numbers are a massive improvement over his time with the Ducks.
The only downside to trading for Klingberg is kicking Calen Addison out of the lineup, but even then, having someone around that went to the Stanley Cup Final just three years ago — and earned 21 points in 26 games during that playoff run — might be a good thing for this crew.
Sundqvist wasn’t the sexiest name acquired by the Wild at the trade deadline, but it might be the most on-brand acquisition for them.
The defense-first forward that can play either center or wing has solidified the bottom-six forward group into something that can still score against any opponent. If you’re looking at him as a Jordan Greenway replacement, through the four games Sundqvist has played for the Wild, he has two points and the now-Buffalo Sabre finished his season in Minnesota with seven.
Sundqvist also can pass the puck pretty dang well, apparently.
On-ice, he’s getting some luck. His underlying numbers at 5-on-5 are pretty dang bad (33.73 shot attempt percentage, 34.28 expected goals percentage) and after losing Marcus Foligno to injury, that line might only get worse. Hopefully this can solidify and he isn’t affecting the team this much, because it has been just four games and that is too small of a sample size to truly judge a player. But, he doesn’t have much longer in Minnesota.
Getting Marcus Johansson back was a controversial move, to say the least. Most Wild fans remember him as the struggling forward that would look lost on the ice and could barely skate during the weird COVID season. So, it made sense that bringing him back felt like a bad move, especially giving up a third-round pick for the player.
But, this is not the 2021 Marcus Johansson that we’re used to. Being back as a member of the Washington Capitals must have revived some memories of being able to pot 20 goals in a season as a depth forward and contributing to a playoff regular. For the Wild, Johansson has been simply outstanding and has fit in perfectly as a temporary solution to the “Who will be Matt Boldy’s other linemate?” question.
He’s also the only deadline acquisition that has scored a goal, so far.
Johansson has one goal and three points in the six games he has played for the Wild on their second line. That’s adequate enough, but he’s also getting some shots off, as he has 11 shots on goal and 20 total shot attempts during that stretch as well.
His underlying numbers are average and mostly just below the 50 percent mark when it comes to shot attempt control and expected goals at 5-on-5, so there’s nothing overwhelmingly good about Johansson’s contributions, other than actually just looking like a very good winger.
We can see it now. Johansson scores in overtime and the Wild have finally won a playoff round. (Sorry, we’re getting ahead of ourselves.)
Okay, well...Gustav Nyquist hasn’t played a game for the Wild yet, but he is with the team. The currently injured winger is aiming for a return either just before the playoffs start or right when the playoffs start, so we haven’t seen what he can do.
But theoretically, he will slot in where Johansson currently is and be another scoring option on the second line with Boldy and Joel Eriksson Ek. This is all hypothetical and an estimation, of course, but we see him doing well if he is not too affected by his current injury.
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