Wild fans will get their first glimpse of a revamped blue line tonight as Minnesota hosts the Los Angeles Kings at Xcel Energy Center.
A day after the NHL trade deadline, Tom Gilbert jumps right into the action and will become the seventh Minnesota native to play for the home team this season and the 14th all-time to don a Wild sweater.
At 30, Kurtis Foster becomes the elder statesman at the point after the Wild traded away Nick Schultz, 29, Greg Zanon, 31, and Marek Zidlicky, 35, in less than a week. All three of the ex-Wild players were in Minnesota for at least three years, and Schultz leaves the club as Minnesota’s all-time leader in games played. But this is the nature of the sports and to move forward you often have to cut ties with the past.
Many analysts are calling the Gilbert for Schultz deal a “pure hockey trade,” something fairly rare on the trade deadline, with both teams filling a need in the swap. Gilbert is a puck-moving defenseman who the Wild hopes will help with its transition game and power play.
“It feels like home,” Gilbert said about his return to Minnesota. He held court with the media for several minutes after the team’s morning skate and talked about everything from returning to the State of Hockey to what he expects from the game tonight. See the Wild TV video, here.
Niklas Backstrom will get the start in net and Nate Prosser will return to the blue line.
Finally, Mikko Koivu missed the morning skate, as did every one else on Injured Reserve. There is no timetable for any of their returns.