| Adam Hall brings grit and toughness to the Wild frontlines. |
The National Hockey League trade deadline is still more than two weeks away, but the Minnesota Wild does not appear to be procrastinating as it solidifies its roster for a playoff push.
On Friday, the Wild acquired right wing Adam Hall from the New York Rangers in exchange for left wing Pascal Dupuis.
Click here for PONDcast coverage of the trade featuring interviews with Hall and Dupuis.
While the Wild could use some help in the faceoff department as well as more goals from the blueline, Assistant General Manager Tom Lynn says that the physical play of Hall will go a long way toward making Minnesota a formidable playoff opponent.
“This is something that we’ve wanted for some time,” said Lynn. “Because the element of grit is not widely available in the trade market, we feel we are getting a player that brings more of that physical element while New York is getting more of a penalty killer. Having that toughness is definitely needed in a playoff push.”
The Kalamazoo, Michigan native was a building block for the Nashville Predators as the team built itself into a playoff contender. He played in at least 75 games in each of his three full seasons in Nashville and averaged 28 points a season. In the summer of 2006, he was traded to New York, where he posted four goals and eight assists through 49 games this season.
Wild President and General Manager Doug Risebrough estimated he had four or five conversations with Rangers GM Glen Sather about a deal. The straight up transaction was completed on Friday morning.
“We were looking at trying to get a bit bigger and a bit stronger on the wall,” said Risebrough. “We had played games against this kid in Nashville and he scored goals in key situations in Nashville.”
He added, “We’re excited about getting him.”
Hall struggled to find his niche with the Rangers, and averaged 12:27 of ice time. Upon learning the news, he was excited to get a chance to play for a team currently in position to make the playoffs.
“It’s always a bit of a weird feeling, but I’m really excited to be joining the Wild organization,” said Hall. “I think it will be a great opportunity.”
Hall was in New York at the time the trade was announced and was unable to practice with the team on Friday. Still, Wild Head Coach Jacques Lemaire said Hall would be in the lineup on Saturday against Carolina.
“We’ll see what he does in practices and games and go from there,” said Lemaire. “I’m anxious to see him go and see what we can do with him. What I remember from him in Nashville is he was a guy that goes in front of the net, gets involved, and is pretty good with the puck. He should help us.”
Hall assured the team he has no problem jumping into the fray immediately on Saturday.
“You want to get right into the game as soon as possible,” he said before adding that he’s looking forward to playing for Lemaire.
“His reputation precedes him as a good coach. I’m definitely looking forward to that as well.”
Hall becomes the fifth American-born player on the Wild roster, which is the most at any one time in franchise history. Hall has represented Team USA at the 2003, 2004 and 2005 World Championships, as well as in the 1999 and 2000 World Junior Championships. He played four seasons at Michigan State and finished his college career with 126 points (79-47=126).
When asked if this would be the only wheeling and dealing before the trade deadline, Risebrough didn’t have a definitive answer.
“Who knows what will happen in the next little bit. I don’t know if I’m done.”
The trade ends the chapter of Dupuis’ life in a Minnesota Wild uniform. The surprise tryout player in 2000 spent parts of six years in Minnesota where he grew as a person and a player.
At the time he was single and did not know a word of English. He leaves for New York with wife, two children and a full vocabulary. He also leaves with a lot of memories of a team that he starred for in the 2003 NHL playoffs. It was Dupuis who scored two goals in a Game Seven victory over the Vancouver Canucks in the Western Conference Semifinals. The first goal cut a Vancouver lead to 2-1 when a puck floated over the net and he whacked it out of the air and past Dan Cloutier.
“He was a good player for us,” said Risebrough. “Had a lot of good memories. People look at the Brunette goal (against Colorado in Game Seven of the first round of the playoffs) as the goal that got us over the hump. The one I remember is Pascal knocking the puck in out of the air that got us back in that game.”
Dupuis said he would always look back at his time in Minnesota with fond memories.
“It’s great memories, obviously,” said Dupuis. “I spent my whole career with the Wild. It’s a great place to play hockey.”