The first domino has fallen in trade season for the Minnesota Wild, as they dealt Jason Zucker to the Pittsburgh Penguins in exchange for Alex Galchenyuk, defense prospect Calen Addison, and a conditional 2020 1st round pick. This condition is almost certainly going to be met, as it depends on the Penguins qualifying for the 2020 Stanley Cup Playoffs which they currently have a 99% chance to do.
As we mentioned in our previous article, we think Jason Zucker is a quality hockey player and is exactly the type of player we would want on our team. However, when analyzing the return rookie GM Bill Guerin was able to pry from the Penguins for Zucker’s services, our first reaction was underwhelming. Before we begin, we’d first like to say that we don’t believe Galchenyuk will remain a member of the Wild past the February 24th trade deadline. He is set to become an unrestricted free agent on July 1st, and we think that there is a possibility that Guerin and his group could flip Galchenyuk should a team offer a pick or prospect. The Wild have $3 million in cap space following this trade and could afford to retain some of Galchenyuk’s $4.9 million salary if that’s what it takes to flip him. This is certainly not the last move the Wild will make this deadline season, as there have been rumors surrounding defenseman Matt Dumba, forward Ryan Donato, and defenseman Jonas Brodin. We will save our thoughts on these players for our eventual Wild trade deadline preview article; however, we believe it’s likely they continue to sell as they are 6 points back of the final wildcard spot in the Western Conference.
Transitioning to the Zucker trade. We have 7 years of data on each player, and Zucker’s career AB score is 4.53 points higher than Galchenyuk’s -1.82 score. In that 7-year span, Galchenyuk has only registered two positive AB seasons, and they were both within the first 3 years of his career with the Montreal Canadiens. He is coming off of a -4 individual AB season with the Coyotes and was off to a rough start offensively in Pittsburgh, hence this trade. Galchenyuk hasn’t had this little point production since his rookie season, as he is on pace for 10 goals and 24 points. Perhaps it was just the fact he didn’t fit in with the Penguins. Maybe a change of scenery would benefit his game and his career, as he will most certainly not be getting a raise from his $4.9 million salary on July 1st at his current rate. We don’t have any data for Calen Addison; however, he has registered 43 points in 39 games with Lethbridge of the WHL and appears promising. The first-round pick (as late as it may be) is still valuable due to the perceived depth of this 2020 draft class. We look forward to seeing what other moves Bill Guerin will make in the coming weeks as the deadline is quickly approaching. More to come.