Trade deadline day was fairly quiet across the National Hockey League through the morning, but the Minnesota Wild changed that during the lunch hour.
The Wild swapped defensemen with the Edmonton Oilers, getting Bloomington native and former Wisconsin Badger, Tom Gilbert
in exchange for Nick Schultz, the all-time leader in games played for the Wild.
Certainly, scoring among Wild defensemen was what the Wild was looking for in this deal, and in Gilbert, the team gets a smooth skater that can move the puck and has put up at least 26 points in each of his first four full NHL seasons.
"It's a new experience for me," said Gilbert who was originally drafted by Colorado, but spent his entire NHL career with the Oilers. "But it's exciting. I'm from Minnesota and I see where that team's headed and it's exciting to be a part of that."
Wild General Manager Chuck Fletcher has walked a line thus far during trading season. He's given up two veteran defensemen, yet has been able to add veteran players to go along with a prospect (Nick Palmieri
) and potentially two draft picks acquired from New Jersey.
It certainly seems as though Fletcher is still looking to make a playoff push this season, and that excites Gilbert.
"It makes it exciting to go play for a team like that, that has the opportunity to make the playoffs," said Gilbert. "It's really exciting for me."
Thus far this season, Gilbert has put up three goals and 14 assists for 17 points in 47 games. That point total would rank second among Wild defenseman, and the three goals would be behind only Kurtis Foster
, who scored his four goals this season with Anaheim and New Jersey.
Gilbert's best season came in 2008-09 when he piled up five goals and 40 assists in 82 games. The former Jefferson Jaguar has played 82 games three times in his career, and he played 79 last year. He is now the second former Badger currently on the team, joining Dany Heatley
This season, Gilbert has dealt with injuries for the first time as an NHLer, missing 13 games this season with a knee injury after taking a hit from Daniel Carcillo, who was suspended for seven games because of it.
It's a good thing durability doesn't appear to be an issue with Gilbert, because the Wild will lose its most durable player in franchise history. Schultz has played 743 games in a Wild sweater, and prior to last season, he played at least 79 games in six straight seasons. He's also appeared in all 62 games this year.
Schultz was the Wild's second ever draft pick, going in the second round of the 2000 Draft, 30 picks after Marian Gaborik was selected. The next season, he made his Wild debut, and went from a young, up-and-coming blueliner to one of the club's most reliable blueliners and locker room leaders.
Prior to the trade, Schultz was the longest-tenured athlete in Minnesota professional sports.