The roller coaster career of Manny Fernandez as a Minnesota Wild goaltender officially ended on Sunday morning with the trade of the Wild original. Fernandez was sent to the Boston Bruins in exchange for Petr Kalus, a 6-foot-1 power forward, and a fourth round pick in the 2009 NHL Entry Draft.
Rumors had swirled since the end of last season about the status of Fernandez, who began the 2006-2007 as Minnesota's first-ever designated starter. When a knee injury sidelined Fernandez, backup Niklas Backstrom
seized the opportunity by performing brilliantly through the end of the regular season and into the playoffs.
With two years remaining on a large contract, the Wild had to decide whether or not to re-sign Backstrom, and then figure out what would happen after that. Backstrom signed in early June, and a decision on whether or not the team could afford to keep two top flight goaltenders was necessary.
Originally maintaining that Fernandez would be part of the team this year, Wild General Manager Doug Risebrough began listening to offers as the NHL Entry Draft neared on June 22. No deal was struck, but apparently talks with the Boston Bruins just needed one more week to simmer.
In sending Fernandez to Boston, the Wild acquires Kalus - a player with the attributes repeatedly discussed by Wild management since the team was out-muscled in the first round of the playoffs by eventual Stanley Cup champion, Anaheim.
Possessing good size (6-foot-1, 186) as well as speed and scoring touch, Kalus did not take long to reach the National Hockey League. He began his first professional season last year with Providence of the AHL and posted 13 goals and 17 assists in 43 games. After getting called up by Boston, Kalus scored a goal on each of his first three shots and ended up with four goals and one assist in nine games.
A scouting report on TSN.ca describes Kalus as having a "very projectable frame and a world of speed and skill. Is an electric goal scorer, and is versatile enough to line up on either side of center," and lists his career potential as a "top six winger."
The Ostrava, Czech Republic native was originally drafted in the second round (39th overall) by Boston in the 2005 NHL Entry Draft.
The trade of Fernandez not only brings in Kalus, but it now allows the Wild to keep hot goaltending prospect Josh Harding
with the big club this season. Harding has been outstanding in three years with Houston in the AHL. After getting called up to serve as backup to Backstrom, Harding was stellar in posting a 3-2-1 record with a 1.16 goals against average and a .960 save percentage.
The trade also frees up room for the Wild under the new NHL salary cap, which was lifted to 50 million dollars on Sunday. Had the team kept Fernandez, it would have had very few options as it moved to sign its remaining unrestricted free agents as well as free agent role players.