ST. PAUL -- When the Wild traded a seventh-round selection in the 2020 NHL Draft to Toronto for defenseman Fedor Gordeev, it was taking a low-risk, high-reward approach in adding young talent to its prospect cupboard.
Gordeev, a fifth-round pick of the Maple Leafs in 2017, was unsigned and the Wild had 48 hours to ink the Russian-born, Toronto-raised product. If it didn't, the seventh-rounder owed to Toronto would return to the Wild.
Minnesota indeed signed Gordeev to a three-year, entry level deal. It believes the seventh rounder could be a small price to pay for a big payoff down the line.
Literally, and figuratively.
Gordeev stands 6-foot-7 and 225 pounds. At 20 years old, he already possesses more than enough size to thrive at the NHL level, it's now up to Minnesota to harness the other aspects of his game and turn him into an NHLer down the road.
Part of that is opportunity.
Gordeev was not likely to be signed by June 1 in Toronto, which would have meant the Leafs would lose him for nothing and the towering defender would have been eligible to be selected in the 2019 NHL Draft.
Instead, the trade allowed Toronto to salvage a pick and Gordeev to get a fresh start with a new organization.
"It was a little bit tough but at the same time, honestly I think it was for the better," Gordeev said. "I have a better shot here obviously, and Minnesota gave me a chance to continue into a pro career which is always been a goal of mine and I was honestly more happy than upset when I got traded."
Gordeev has spent the past three seasons in the Ontario Hockey League, where he has shown considerable upside in both ends of the rink.
"I think I'm a solid two-way defenseman. For a big guy I think I can move pretty well, and that's huge in the game now-a-days," Gordeev said. "And I'm physical as well. I can get up the ice. I can do a little bit of everything."
Last year, he tallied three goals and 16 assists in 32 games with the Flint Firebirds, where he served as an alternate captain, before being traded midseason to the Guelph Storm., where he scored four goals and chipped in another nine assists.
He also played in 23 playoff games for Guelph, scoring a pair of goals.
The 2018-19 season continued an upward trend in offensive output for Gordeev, who could return to the OHL for a final time this season.
More than likely, however, Gordeev will begin his pro career with Iowa, where he will fight with a number of returning defensemen for regular time on the blue line in Des Moines.
Where he slots in yet is anyone's guess, but Gordeev made a solid first impression on Wild brass at last month's development camp.
In addition to his size and physical play, he showed glimpses of the kind of offensive player he could be, including a highlight-reel goal in the camp's signature event, the 3-on-3 tournament, where he toe-dragged around a defenseman and scored with a quick short-side snap shot.
While there's no guarantee Gordeev will reach the NHL, it's the kind of play that reminded decision makers why he was certainly a worthy gamble.
"He's pretty unique because he moves around the ice pretty well and he's got good hands," said Wild Director of Player Development Brad Bombardir. "I haven't seen a whole lot of video on him yet, but I've seen enough to see that he's pretty gifted, actually. A smooth player. It'll take some time, obviously, to learn what his strengths are and his weaknesses are, but any time you can get someone like that with that big of reach, that big of body and that heavy to play against, [it's good]."
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