Get wild: Forward Gustav Nyquist (50% of salary retained by the Blue Jackets), forward Marcus Johansson
Capital letters get: 2024 third-round pick
Blue jackets get: Fifth-round pick in 2023
Luszczyszyn House: After spending the last week as the league’s unofficial broker, the Wild got themselves in on the action with a pair of offers. First, they traded a third-rounder to Washington for Marcus Johansson, then they followed that up later in the day by acquiring Gustav Nyquist for a fifth-round pick.
The pair of moves were made to shore up the team’s forward depth, which has been a big deal this year after being a hallmark of the team’s strength for the past two seasons. Johansson has been a solid mid-six for the Capitals this year, while Nyquist has been the same when healthy. With these two additions, the Wild is certainly deeper than it was a day ago.
The question is whether it is important enough. The Wild aren’t the team they were last year or the year before — they’re on the fringes of the Western Conference playoff hierarchy. They look like first round fodder and none of these moves change that. It’s like doing moves just for fun.
A lot depends on what kind of player Nyquist can be when he’s healthy. He’s expected to return before the playoffs, but even when he does, he’s a far cry from the impact player he once was. Nyquist may have scored 53 points last season, but defensively he was a shell of himself – a huge change from who he was before missing the entire 2021 season through injury. It only continued this season, but with even less punch.
As for Johansson, he is a central striker par excellence – nothing less, nothing more. He will earn you 40 points and be an OK game pilot. He is the definition of A Guy. Nothing wrong with that, it’s just not much different from what Minnesota already has.
Nyquist and Johansson can help, but only marginally. On the plus side, the Wild paid very little for this to happen, so it’s a move that doesn’t come with a lot of risk. It leaves me wondering if there wasn’t a better deal to be had for a striker or two who could have had a bigger impact.
Capitals : B
Blue Jackets: B-
Shayna Goldman: After playing broker on a few trades, the Wild finally made some additions. First it was Johansson for a third. The Capitals have backed off and are making the most of all of their pending unrestricted free agents. A third for a deep player is a good addition and can help in that process – whether he’s actually drafting with it or using it as a trading asset.
It’s just a little disappointing from a wild point of view. Sure, there’s a familiarity here, but Johansson had one of the worst seasons of his Minnesota career. He completely sank the team’s offense every time he was on the ice, no matter who he was skating with – Zach Parise, Kevin Fiala, etc. And he also struggled defensively. While that seems like the outlier of his career, why go back when it clearly didn’t work out the first time around? The Wild need help in the attacking department and that adds depth, but it doesn’t really make the team more dynamic than before.
The same is somewhat true with Nyquist. There are a few more positives for him when he’s at his best, but there’s a big question mark over whether he’ll return after a tough year at Columbus, especially after spending time at the away from an injury. His defensive play is another issue, but maybe the Wild feel they have enough structure to balance that out. The silver lining here is the cost: It only cost Minnesota a fifth to acquire, a pick they added to keep the salary on another deal.
If this is just the start of the Wild’s moves, then that’s fine. But this is a team that needs at least forward impact, if not more, to take it to the next level — not just to stand taller in the Western Conference, but to measure anywhere near the top. ‘East. Minnesota has some cap space as it is, and retention on Nyquist deal does not hurt; management just has to use it.
Capitals : B+
Blue Jackets: C+
(Photo: Ben Jackson/NHLI via Getty Images)