It’s been a foregone conclusion for a while that Cal Clutterbuck was not going to return to the Minnesota Wild. A team without a ton of cap space to work with wasn’t going to throw the type of money at Clutterbuck that he was looking for, as a player with his particular “skill set” isn’t on their list of needs.
He’s a fit with the New York Islanders, though, who can use that type of presence. In dealing Clutterbuck to the Isles, the Wild not only got value for player who likely would have been gone in free agency, but a player with offensive upside in forward Nino Niederreiter.
There was little doubt that the Islanders were going to deal Niederreiter at some point. After he wasn’t inviting to training camp when the season began back in January, he made it clear that he wanted out. He felt that he was never afforded the right opportunity in New York, and the trade was a long time coming.
With Minnesota, he gets a change of scenery, and perhaps a new opportunity. He’s still only 20 years old and was a top prospect in the system, despite his failure to appear with the Islanders on a consistent basis. The Wild get a player with big upside that they were heavily interested in back in the 2010 draft.
He’s a pretty big kid, at 6’2″ and a touch over 200 pounds, with some pretty impressive skill. He’ll play the physical game and has a nose for the net. He scored 28 goals in the AHL this season. If he can realize his potential, he’ll be an immediate offensive contributor for a Wild club that could use another one.
We’ll see if Niederreiter will make an impact with the Wild this season, or if he’ll spend some more time in the minors. One would think he’ll get an opportunity to succeed immediately. If not, we’ll see how he reacts. But as of right now, this trade is a big win for the Minnesota Wild.