By Michael Russo
Updated: The Wild has traded Craig Weller, a second-round pick in 2011 and the rights to Alex Fallstrom, the Shattuck-St. Mary’s kid taken in the fourth round last June, to the Boston Bruins for forward Chuck Kobasew.
The pick is in 2011, meaning Fletcher will have plenty of time to acquire a second-round pick to replace it, especially with a potential selloff of free agents in the future this season. Also, to be able to acquire Kobasew, the Wild has placed Pierre-Marc Bouchard on Long-Term Injury (LTI) relief status, which essentially means the Wild can go about dollar for dollar over the cap with Bouchard’s salary for the time he’s out. When he comes back, the Wild have to fall back in line with the cap. Bouchard’s cap hit is $4.08 mill. Kobasew’s is $2.33 mill
Bouchard’s going to be out awhile.
Petr Sykora’s been placed on injured reserve to get Kobasew on the roster. It’s retroactive to the San Jose game, so Sykora can come off if he’s able to play Wednesday and the Wild will have to make another roster move. In fact, with Kobasew here, I’d assume they’ll send somebody to Houston in the next day or so anyway.
Kobasew’s got this year and next left on a contract before he can become an unrestricted free agent. Fletcher said that was key, that Kobasew was contractually obligated for another season. Fletcher pushed for the pick to be 2011 because he wanted all his picks for next year’s draft and it would give him this season and next to try to replace the second-rounder, and let’s be honest, with so many UFA’s, if this season does head south, there could be a fire sale of sorts down the road.
I think that possibility made it easier for Fletcher to give up Fallstrom. There’s a chance the Wild could be picking up picks and prospects come trade deadline time. I’ve always heard good things about Fallstrom (and obviously the Bruins valued him as he plays right around the corner at Harvard), so it could be a steep price. But, Fallstrom probably has three full years at Harvard at least, so he was a ways away from being here.
Losing Weller is a coup. Wild doesn’t have to pay his $625,000 salary anymore in Houston. So, if you assume Fletcher can eventually acquire a second-round pick to replace this second, this was Fallstrom for Kobasew. We’ll know how that works out in about five years. Is Fallstrom a bust, or is he the second coming of Tomas Holmstrom? We will see.
As for Kobasew, who’s hit the 20-goal plateau in three of the past four years, I know a lot of people in Boston, and the scouting report from a bunch is this: “Good skater, works hard, drives to the net relentlessly, plays bigger than his size, has some skill, generates a ton of scoring chances for others but needs many scoring chances for him to be the scorer, is streaky undersized for the way he plays, which is very gutsy. Just goes to the net, plays hard on the wall. Because of that, he does get injured often. Best fit as a third-liner on a good team, but can be a second-liner on a bad team. Teammates love him. Reporters love him. Well-spoken, great guy.”
Talked to Shane Hnidy, who played with Kobasew the past two seasons in Boston.
He said his cell phone rang, and “I was like, Why’s Chuck Kobasew calling me? I wonder if we just traded for him.”
The Wild did. Coincidentally, it was Hnidy who broke Kobasew’s ankle in the season opener last year. It happened in the first period. He played the rest of the game, but missed the next 12. “I was amazed he played the whole game. I felt terrible,” Hnidy said.
Kobasew played through much of last year’s playoffs with broken ribs.
Kobasew was excited for the new opportunity. He says he loves playing in Minnesota, and he knows it well from coming here often with the Calgary Flames.
That’s it. I’m out.