The deadline for completing trades in the National Hockey League is tomorrow afternoon, but the Minnesota Wild already has a very different look. Although, it’s not too different because two familiar faces will be back in the Wild lineup. Kurtis Foster and Stephane Veilleux have returned to the team where they’ve made their biggest impacts. They’re joined by former New Jersey Devil teammate Nick Palmieri, who will make his Wild debut tonight. The trio is now wearing the green and red thanks to a Friday night trade that also brought a second round draft pick in 2012 and a conditional third round pick in 2013 to Minnesota in exchange for Marek Zidlicky.
The trade took place just prior to the Wild facing the Dallas Stars on Friday, a game Minnesota lost 4-1. Devin Setoguchi accounted for the Wild ‘s only goal with a power play marker in the third period. But that didn’t come until the Stars built a 3-0 lead on Niklas Backstrom, who was pulled after allowing three goals on 14 shots. Matt Hackett came on in relief and stopped all 10 shots he faced.
The Sharks will be playing the second of back-to-back road games tonight after getting thumped by the Nashville Predators yesterday. Joe Pavelski and Patrick Marleau scored goals, but the Sharks allowed six goals on just 21 shots to fall to 3-6-1 over the last 10 games.
Wild vs. Sharks will be broadcast locally in high definition on Fox Sports North with a start time at 5:00 PM. The game can be heard on KFAN 100.3 FM or online at Wild.com.
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You can’t very well give away a trading card of a player that no longer plays for your team. So instead of a Marek Zidlicky player card giveaway as was originally scheduled, all fans will now get a Cal Clutterbuck trading card courtesy of Sony and Fox Sports North.
Tonight’s game will wrap up a grueling nine-game road swing for the Sharks, who lost their stranglehold on the Pacific Division to the streaking Phoenix Coyotes. But there can’t be too much panic in Northern California. With Joe Thornton, Logan Couture, Marleau and Pavelski supplying plenty of offense, the Sharks just need Antti Niemi to find his game in goal. Niemi has been pulled twice this week and gave up three goals on seven shots last night.
Dany Heatley has been stuck at 19 goals since Valentine’s Day, but his point production keeps climbing. Heatley has at least one assist in four of the last five games, and four helpers in the last three contests.
Despite a setback to the team’s playoff hopes on Friday, there was some palpable excitement generated by the off-ice news. The Wild parted with a player that went public with his feelings of not being comfortable with his role on the team. And in return, the Wild brought two players back who have made it clear that they’ve loved playing in Minnesota. And then there’s Palmieri, who is still just 22 years old and has shown promise as a potential power forward with finish around the net.
Other than Brian Rolston, there probably isn’t another Wild player that has possessed a rocket slap shot like Foster. We saw it when he scored two goals in his first-ever Wild game, and we saw plenty more from that day forward. One thing the Wild hasn’t had this year is the ability to get shots to the goal from the point. Foster can do that, because there aren’t many volunteers willing to stand in the way of his howitzer.
Palmieri will jump onto the second line with Matt Cullen and Cal Clutterbuck. Veilleux will bring his familiar energy to the fourth line:
“I guess it depends on what the players want to allow it to do. Maybe it can excite you, maybe it can motivate you, maybe you can use it as an excuse.”
-- Mike Yeo on how a trade like Friday’s can affect the current roster
D Brent Burns remains the Wild’s all-time leading scorer among defensemen…Injured LW Martin Havlat spent the previous two seasons with Minnesota before being sent to San Jose for Heatley…Injured C James Sheppard was a first round draft pick of the Wild in 2006…D Justin Braun is a Minneapolis native and played his high school hockey at White Bear Lake.
The Wild will wear camouflage jerseys during pregame warmups tonight. The Wild has done this once before, and is 1-0-0 after that one. The jerseys will be made available via an online auction beginning on Tuesday.