The New Jersey Devils gave their blue line a boost on Friday by acquiring veteran defenseman Marek Zidlicky
from the Minnesota Wild for three players and draft picks after Zidlicky waived his no-trade clause.
The Wild will receive defenseman Kurtis Foster, forwards Nick Palmieri and Stephane Veilleux
, as well as a secondround pick in 2012 that the Devils previously acquired from Washington and a conditional third-round pick in the 2013 NHL Draft. The Wild will get that pick if the Devils make the Eastern Conference Finals this spring and Zidlicky plays in 75 percent of New Jersey's games in the first two rounds.
Foster and Zidlicky were both scratched from their teams' games on Friday night.
Zidlicky, 35, had been unhappy with the Wild and had said he'd be willing to waive his no-trade clause to facilitate a move after he and coach Mike Yeo expressed dissatisfaction with each other. Zidlicky had an assist in Thursday's 3-2 shootout win at Florida and has no goals but 14 assists in 41 games this season. He is fourth all-time in scoring among Wild defensemen with 25 goals and 97 assists for 122 points in 241 games.
In his career, Zidlicky has 60 goals and 238 assists, along with 496 penalty minutes, in 548 games. He has one more season remaining on his contract with a cap hit of $4.0 million.
“We had an opportunity to get an experienced right shot, puck-moving defensemen, who can also quarterback a power play and has a lot of experience," Devils GM Lou Lamoriello said of the trade. "In my opinion, we had a chance to get someone who is better-suited to playing 5-on-5 and moving the puck out of the zone and jumping into the offense the way he can, with the type of forwards we have at this point."
“We felt it was something we wanted to do and none of them (the traded players) are really playing regularly at this point."
Lamoriello said he wasn't sure if Zidlicky, who was in Dallas for the Wild's game in Dallas, would be able to get to Newark in time for Saturday's practice or the Devils' Sunday afternoon game against Tampa Bay. Asked if he would make any more moves before the trade deadline on Monday, Lamoriello replied, "You never know.If you make your team better, you do it, but I won't get into discussions right now. I'm please with the addition right now."
The key to the deal for the Wild appears to be Palmieri, a forward who was originally selected by the Devils in the third round of the 2007 NHL Draft. The 22-year-old has yet to play a full season in the NHL but has 13 goals and 12 assists for 25 points in 78 games -- including four goals and three assists in 29 games with the Devils this season.
The other two players are returning to the Wild. Veilleux was drafted by Minnesota in the third round of the 2001 NHL Draft and played 361 games during six seasons in Minnesota, totaling 43 goals and 47 assists. He still ranks eighth all time in games played in Minnesota. Since leaving the Wild as a free agent after the 2008-09 season, Veilleux played one season in Tampa Bay before splitting last year between SM-liiga in Finland and the Swiss League. He signed with New Jersey last summer and has spent the season with the AHL Devils, scoring 11 goals and adding 11 assists,
Foster spent four seasons with the Wild from 2005-09. He became the first Wild player to score his first two NHL goals in the same game when he made his Wild debut in 2005. He went on to post 10 goals and 18 assists in 58 games that season. After suffering a horrific leg injury in 2008, Foster worked his way back to appear in 10 games at the end of the 2009 season. That offseason he signed with the Tampa Bay Lightning, and has since played in Edmonton, Anaheim and New Jersey.
Foster started this season in Anaheim, playing nine games with a goal and an assist. He was later traded to New Jersey where he played 28 games and chipped in three goals and nine assists. He is just coming off a back injury Foster and Veilleux will be unrestricted free agents this summer; Palmieri will be a restricted free agent.