It looks like Wild general manager Bill Guerin wasn’t messing around when he said he wasn’t afraid to make a trade this offseason.
He executed a stunning trade Wednesday, flipping veteran center Eric Staal to the Buffalo Sabres for winger Marcus Johansson.
Johansson, 29, from Sweden, is entering the final year of a two-year, $9 million contract. He finished last season with 30 points (9 goals, 21 assists).
Staal, 35, is entering the final year of a two-year, $6.5 million contract. He finished last season with 47 points (19 goals, 28 assists).
While it might seem like a confusing move on the surface, especially considering Staal centered the top line for the Wild for much of the 2019-20 season, he is getting older, and his value might never be higher than right now.
On the flip side, Johansson is younger, and despite being listed as a winger, is more than capable of playing center. He has done that for most of his career and figures to fill that role with the Wild next season.
This move certainly will get the rumors swirling as the Wild continue to look for more skill up the middle. That’s something Guerin mentioned as a top priority this offseason, and considering he so willingly flipped a locker room favorite in Staal, it wouldn’t shock anyone if he made another move at some point.
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It’s safe to assume the trade came as a shock to Staal. He has mentioned multiple times how much he loved playing for the Wild and likely thought he would finish his career with the organization.
He came to the Twin Cities ahead of the 2016-17 season with many doubters thinking he washed up. Not only did Staal emphatically proved them wrong with his solid play, he scored 42 goals during the 2017-18 season, the apex of his career renaissance.
While his production has steadily decreased since that reemergence, Staal has been an invaluable locker room guy that always had a knack for making a big play when the Wild needed him most. He has 436 goals and 585 assists in more than 1,200 career games.
Buffalo Sabres, Eric Staal, Minnesota Wild, Marcus Johansson, National Hockey League, Carolina Hurricanes
World news – US – Wild trade Eric Staal to Sabres for Marcus Johansson