134271038Defenseman Marek Zidlicky was done with the Minnesota Wild, after a fundamental disagreement with coach Mike Yeo about his role and public statements of frustration to the media. The Wild's options were limited, too, as Zidlicky had a no-trade clause. When he moved, it wasn't expected to be for much.
Yet GM Chuck Fletcher managed to get forwards Nick Palmieri and Stephane Veilleux, defenseman Kurtis Foster, a second round pick in 2013 and a conditional third round pick in 2013 from the New Jersey Devils for Zidlicky on Friday night.
Foster and Veilleux are both former Minnesota players. Foster spent four seasons with the Wild from 2005 to 2009; Veilleux played 361 games over six seasons in Minnesota. They're both unrestricted free agents at the end of the season, although Foster's booming shot on the point would be tantalized to retain for the right price.
To get a player like Palmieri back for Zidlicky is, at face, hockey voodoo. He's an RFA, but he's a young forward with potential that simply played his way out of a gig with the Devils. As Pete DeBoer said last month: "This was a guy I pretty handed a top-six forward job to off the bat and he slowly worked himself out of that."
So it's not as if the Devils were fleeced here or anything; it's two UFAs, a spare part forward and a second-rounder, basically, which is still a coup for Fletcher considering the circumstances.
(Mike Morreale of NHL.com reports that the Wild get conditional 3rd rounder pick in '13 if the Devils make East Final in 2012 and Zidlicky plays 75 percent of their games in the 1st two rounds of the playoffs.)
Question is whether Zidlicky's a worthwhile addition.
We broke down the acquisition last week when it was first reported Zidlicky would waive his NTC for the Devils:
Zidlicky is 35 and has one more year on his deal at a $4 million cap hit. The Devils do have Foster ($1.8 million) and Bryce Salvador ($2.9 million) off the cap in the summer, so it's a bit of a wash; especially with Adam Larsson and Mark Fayne (who is an RFA) returning as cheap labor.
(And hey, who cares: It's the NHL's money anyway!)
For the Devils, this right out of the Lou Lamoriello playbook: Acquiring a veteran, puck-moving defenseman for a playoff run (see also: Shawn Chambers in 1995, Vladimir Malakhov in 2000). Zidlicky costs more than some alternatives like ex-Devil Johnny Oduya, headed to free agency with the Winnipeg Jets. But if he finds his game, he's an asset.
Which is a big "if" at 35 years old. Zidlicky was at a philosophical impasse with Coach Mike Yeo, and that damaged relationship led to this apparent parting of ways. Now the only question is if a player who didn't feel his style matched the expectations of his previous coach and team will drink Lou's Kool-Aid and play Devils hockey.
Well, not the only question. There's also whether Zidlicky will continue to be a ineffective turnover machine, or if that was a product of his unhappiness with the Wild.
Wonder what else Lamoriello will add to the roster in the Zach Parise Farewell Tour '12 ...