The Minnesota Wild got into the pre-trade deadline action today, acquiring two former Wild players and a big, young winger in the process. The Wild landed forwards Nick Palmieri
and Stephane Veilleux
, defenseman Kurtis Foster
, a second round pick in 2012 and a conditional third round pick in 2013 from the New Jersey Devils in exchange for defenseman Marek Zidlicky.
There had been speculation in recent weeks that the Devils were a willing trade partner for Zidlicky, but nothing had come to fruition…until today.
The centerpiece of the deal for the Wild appears to be Palmieri, the young and big forward who was originally selected by the Devils in the third round of the 2007 NHL Draft. The 22 year old has yet to play a full season in the NHL, but he has shown the ability to score when he has.
In 78 NHL games, he's posted 13 goals and 12 assists for 25 points. That includes four goals and three assists through 29 games with the Devils this season. At 6-foot-3, 220 pounds, the Utica, New York native brings some size to the front lines that was lost with the absence of Guillaume Latendresse
, who has missed most of the season with concussion symptoms.
Wild fans are familiar with the two other players acquired in the deal. Veilleux is the energetic forward who was drafted by Minnesota in the third round of the 2001 NHL Entry Draft. It was the same draft in which the Wild took Mikko Koivu
in the first round and Derek Boogaard in the seventh.
He played 361 games over six seasons in Minnesota, totaling 43 goals and 47 assists. He still ranks eighth all time in games played in Minnesota.
Since leaving the Wild as a free agent after the 2008-09 season, Veilleux played one season in Tampa Bay before splitting last year between SM-liiga in Finland and the Swiss League.
This year, he signed with the Devils and played one game while spending the majority of the year with Albany of the AHL. In 40 AHL games this season, he's put up 11 goals and 11 assists.
Foster spent four seasons with the Wild from 2005 to 2009. He became the first Wild player to score his first two NHL goals in the same game when he made his Wild debut in 2005. He went on to post 10 goals and 18 assists in 58 games that season.
After suffering a horrific leg injury in 2008, Foster worked his way back to appear in 10 games at the end of the 2009 season. That offseason he signed with the Tampa Bay Lightning, and has since played in Edmonton, Anaheim and New Jersey.
A Minnesota fan favorite, Foster started this season in Anaheim, playing nine games with a goal and an assist. He was later traded to New Jersey where he played 28 games and chipped in three goals and nine assists. He is just coming off a back injury
Foster and Veilleux will both be unrestricted free agents at the end of this season. Palmieri will be a restricted free agent at the end of the year.
The arrival of Foster, Palmieri and Veilleux means the Zidlicky era has come to an end in Minnesota. Over four seasons in Minnesota, he became one of the top offensive defensemen in Wild history with 25 goals and 97 assists for 122 points in 241 games. His 122 points rank fourth all-time among Wild defensemen behind Brent Burns, Filip Kuba and Nick Schultz. But he struggled this season, and hadn't scored a goal, mustering 13 assists through 40 games. He recently expressed displeasure with his role publicly after sitting out several games over the last month.
Zidlicky has one more year remaining on his contract after this season.