Want to get: Forward Gustav Nyquist (50 percent of the salary is retained by the Blue Jackets), forward Marcus Johansson
Capitals get: 2024 election in the third round
Blue Jackets get: 2023 election in the fifth round
Dom Luszczyszyn: After spending last week as the league’s unofficial broker, the Wild got in on the action himself with a pair of deals. First, they traded a third-rounder to Washington for Marcus Johansson, then followed up later in the day by acquiring Gustav Nyquist for a fifth-round pick.
The two moves were made to bolster the team’s forward depth, which has been a major problem this year after being a hallmark of the team’s strength the past two seasons. Johansson has been a solid middle-six guy for the Capitals this year, while Nyquist has been the same when healthy. With these two additions, the Wild are certainly deeper than they were a day ago.
The question is whether it is enough to matter. The Wild are not the team they were last year or the year before – they are on the fringes of the playoff hierarchy in the Western Conference. They look like prime fodder, and none of these moves change that. It feels like making moves just for the sake of it.
A lot depends on what kind of player Nyquist can be when healthy. He is expected to return before the playoffs, but even when he does, he is very far from the impact player he once was. Nyquist may have scored 53 points last season, but defensively he was a shell of himself — a big departure from who he was before he lost the entire 2021 season to injury. It has only continued this season, but with even less scoring.
As for Johansson, he is a typical middle six striker – nothing less, nothing more. He will give you 40 points and be an OK play driver. He is the definition of a guy. Nothing wrong with that, it’s just not very different from what Minnesota already has.
Nyquist and Johansson can help, but only marginally. On the plus side, the Wild paid very little to make it happen, so it’s a move that doesn’t involve much risk. It just makes me wonder if there wasn’t a better deal to be made for a striker or two who could have made a bigger impact.
Blue Jackets: B-
Shayna Goldman: After playing broker on a couple of trades, the Wild have finally made some additions of their own. First up was Johansson for a third. The Capitals pulled back and are making the most of all their pending unrestricted free agents. A third for a depth player is a nice addition and can help in this process – whether they actually draft with this or use it as a trade tool.
It’s just a little underwhelming from a Wild perspective. Sure, there’s some familiarity here, but Johansson had one of the worst seasons of his career in Minnesota. He absolutely sank the team’s offense when he was on the ice, no matter who he was skating with – Zach Parise, Kevin Fiala, you name it. And he struggled defensively as well. While it appears to be the pinnacle of his career, why roll it back when it clearly didn’t work the first time? The Wild need help in the forward department and this adds some depth, but it doesn’t really make the team more dynamic than before.
The same is somewhat true with Nyquist. There’s a bit more upside for him when he’s at his best, but there’s a big question mark if he gets back there after a rough year in Columbus, especially after spending time on the sidelines with injury. His defensive game is another issue, but perhaps the Wild feel they have enough structure to balance that. The bright side here is the cost: it cost Minnesota just a fifth to acquire him, a pick they added to keep the salary on another deal.
If this is just the start of Wild’s move, then that’s fine. But this is a team that needs at least one impact forward, if not more, to take them to the next level — not just to rise higher in the Western Conference, but to measure up anywhere near the East. Minnesota has some cap space as it is, and retention on the Nyquist agreement do not hurt; management must actually use it.
Blue Jackets: C+
(Photo: Ben Jackson / NHLI via Getty Images)