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Wild acquire Bergenheim in trade with Panthers

by Dan Myers

ST. PAUL, Minn. -- The Minnesota Wild acquired Sean Bergenheim in a trade with the Florida Panthers on Tuesday, giving up a third-round pick in the 2016 NHL Draft for the veteran forward. The Wild also receive the Panthers' seventh-round pick in the 2016 draft.

Bergenheim is in the final year of a four-year, $11 million contract and has eight goals and 10 assists in 39 games this season. He's played in 489 NHL games with the Panthers, Tampa Bay Lightning and New York Islanders.

Bergenheim, 31, was a first-round pick (No. 22) of the Islanders in the 2002 NHL Draft.

"We were looking for some depth," Wild general manager Chuck Fletcher said. "We're playing with 12 guys up front right now that are playing well, but you get one or two more injuries and you start to really get into some issues. The emphasis for us was to find a proven guy with some playoff experience that's wiling to compete, go to the net, pursue pucks, and Sean brings all those attributes."

Minnesota has sustained three injuries to its forwards in recent weeks, and Bergenheim is expected to bolster the bottom six. Jason Zucker recently had surgery on his clavicle and is expected to miss the rest of the season. Matt Cooke and Ryan Carter are out week-to-week, and coach Mike Yeo said Monday their returns are a ways away. Cooke is out with a sports hernia, and Carter has an upper-body injury.

Bergenheim was a healthy scratch in each game since Feb. 12. After being scratched in three consecutive games earlier in the month, Bergenheim's agent Todd Diamond spoke with Panthers general manager Dale Tallon and requested a trade.

"Sean was frustrated with his lack of ice time. He came to me ... and I felt that maybe it was better if he went elsewhere. You don't have to tell me twice," Tallon said in Chicago, where the Panthers were playing the Chicago Blackhawks.

"I appreciate the hard work he's given us, but it's time for him and us to move on, and it makes some room for us for some of our young guys.

"We've got [Garrett] Wilson in the lineup tonight, and we've got [Quinton] Howden and [Rocco] Grimaldi and lots of young guys coming, so we need to make room for them. That's just the way it is."

Fletcher said the trade will not prohibit the Wild from making more. With defenseman Keith Ballard likely out for the season with a concussion and facial fractures, and defenseman Jared Spurgeon out indefinitely with an upper-body injury, Minnesota's depth has been tested.

"You're always worried. We have two NHL [players] out right now," Fletcher said. "Hopefully it's not long-term for Jared. We like the guys we have, but it's something we may want to take a look at." correspondent Brian Hedger contributed to this story.

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