Would add John Klingberg and Oskar Sundqvist, send Jordan Greenway to Sabres

CALGARY — The Wild wanted to strengthen the present without compromising the future, and that’s exactly how they prepared the roster for the postseason.

“We’re serious,” said general manager Bill Guerin. “We are serious about winning.”

Before Friday’s NHL trade deadline, the Wild sent Jordan Greenway to Buffalo, picked up his replacement in Oskar Sundqvist from Detroit and also picked up defenseman John Klingberg out of Anaheim.

Factor in the additions of Marcus Johansson and Gustav Nyquist earlier in the week, and the Wild brought in four players without making any of their first- or second-round picks.

Not only that, they have largely preserved the lineup that has increased to contention for the top spot in the Central Division and the entire Western Conference with 20 games left in the playoff hunt.

Greenway is the only regular gone, with the Wild receiving a second-round pick in this year’s draft that originally belonged to Vegas and a 2024 fifth-round pick to give him a fresh start with the Sabres.

A prized prospect after being a second-round pick in 2015, Greenway shined at times in parts of six seasons with the Wild, as when he was a 6-6, 231-pound force along the boards or shutting down the other team’s best players on the “GREEF” line with Joel Eriksson Ek and Marcus Foligno.

But Greenway stalled after offseason surgery and a subsequent injury to the same shoulder, recording just two goals and five assists in 45 games.

“You’re just playing catch-up all the time,” Guerin said. “It really sets you back, but I think overall a change would be good.”

The winger leaves the organization with 38 goals and 81 assists in 317 games.

Formerly coached by Buffalo bench boss Don Granato with the US National Team Development Program, Greenway is from Canton, NY

Although the Wild discussed Greenway with a number of teams, they would not have traded him if they did not get the return they were seeking.

“We got pretty close to what we wanted,” said Guerin, who also created $3 million in cap space for the next two seasons by trading Greenway, flexibility Guerin called “necessary.”

That vacancy will be filled by Sundqvist, whom the Wild secured for a fourth-rounder in 2023 in a deal that came together on Friday to compensate for Greenway’s exit.

In 52 games with the Red Wings, Sundqvist accumulated seven goals and 14 assists, and Guerin described the 28-year-old as smart, big and versatile (Sundqvist can play center or wing). He also has playoff experience after winning the Stanley Cup with St. Louis in 2019.

Klingberg also addressed a need, with Guerin targeting an offensive instinct for the backend.

“We like to defend first,” Guerin said. “But when there’s a play to be made, he’s the type of guy who can really make a high-level offensive play.”

Klingberg cost Wild minor-leaguer Andrej Sustr, the rights to prospect Nikita Nesterenko and a fourth-round pick in 2025; the ducks kept 50% of Klingberg’s salary. Guerin had been in talks with Anaheim for about a week, but the asking price extended negotiations until just before the deadline.

Like Johansson and Nyquist, who is on injured reserve with a shoulder injury not expected to sideline him for the rest of the season, Sundqvist and Klingberg are on expiring contracts.

Sundqvist is ending a four-year deal worth $11 million, while Klingberg (30) went to Anaheim for one year for $7 million after eight seasons with Dallas. The right-handed defenseman was a minus-28 with the rebuilding Ducks, but is a four-time 10-goal scorer and has eight 50-plus games this season along with 16 assists. He can quarterback a power play, and Guerin believes Klingberg can help a Wild offense that has been run by Kirill Kaprizov of late.

Kaprizov is one goal shy of 40 after scoring eight of the Wild’s last 15 goals over seven games, a blitz that has elevated Kaprizov to sixth in Wild history with 113 career goals.

“We just need other guys to chip in,” Guerin said.

Both Sundqvist and Klingberg are expected to make their Wild debuts Saturday in Calgary, and Guerin planned to discuss where they fit in the lineup with coach Dean Evason.

Guerin said the Wild weren’t close to trading Matt Dumba, and while they showed interest in Alex Goligoski, nothing came of it.

This keeps the blue line, which is one of the best in the NHL, intact.

Since December 10, the Wild have averaged the second fewest goals per game at 2.28. They’ve given up less than two goals 22 times, which is also second best in the league, and they’re 20-1-1 when that happens.

“The coaches I give a lot of credit to and the players I give a lot of credit to because they buy in,” Guerin said.

Even with shy production, the Wild look better equipped for the playoffs with this stingy attitude.

And now more reinforcements are on the way.

“We’re playing more of a winning style this year,” Guerin said. “You have to put the team above your individual desires, and that’s what the guys are doing. That’s a good sign.”

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *