Right as the NHL Trade Deadline was closing, the Buffalo Sabres pulled off a massive deal, sending star forward Matt Moulson and Cody McCormick to the Minnesota Wild in exchange for Torrey Mitchell and a second-round draft pick. The move is a huge steal for the Wild, and one that affirms their desire to go all-in for the Stanley Cup this spring.
The biggest asset being acquired was certainly Moulson, who will slot firmly into the team’s second line alongside Charlie Coyle and Mikko Koivu. This is a role that suits the 30-year old perfectly, as he isn’t well-rounded enough to be a first-liner on a championship-caliber team, but does have an innate ability to slam home goals.
When put together with his two new linemates, Moulson will help to form a secondary unit that isn’t especially flashy, but will play hard in both ends of the ice and can contribute goals from hard work come playoff time.
Combining this with an offensive unit spearheaded by Zach Parise, and this is a group that is going to play fundamentally sound hockey. The team will put in the dirty work necessary to be always be competitive in the playoffs. The addition of Moulson now gives the team three genuine goal-scoring threats alongside Parise and Jason Pominville, but doesn’t deviate from the vision of a unit that plays two-way hockey in the postseason.
When looking at the rest of the Wild, it is clear that this is a team that is suited to win come playoff time. Defensively, the team is led by Ryan Suter, who will undoubtedly play at least 30 minutes in every playoff game, but secondary players Jared Spurgeon, Jonas Brodin and Nate Prosser can’t be overlooked. This unit as a whole plays a brand of physical, hardworking hockey that will translate well in the playoffs, and it has the team ranking fifth in the NHL in goals allowed per game despite going through three goalies this season.
Acquiring Moulson and veteran goaltender Ilya Bryzgalov prior to the NHL Trade Deadline reinforces the Wild with two players who aren’t going to specifically wow anyone, but who fill much-needed holes on the roster. Come playoff time, it would be hard to bet against Minnesota, who are now one of the most well-rounded teams in the NHL.