Andrew Stille – Minnesota Wild
I think the winner of the trade deadline this year was the Minnesota Wild. The main issue they needed to address before the playoffs was their goaltending. Talbot and Kahkonen were a good tandem, but they did not always play like they were the answer to winning the Stanley Cup.
Acquiring Marc-Andre Fleury is an obvious bump in goaltending. The Blackhawks have been one of the worst defensive teams this season, yet Fleury’s numbers have still managed to hold up. In front of a better defense in Minnesota, he could do wonders for them in the playoffs.
They sent Kahkonen to San Jose for Jake Middleton, who will make their defense much tougher. He has been awesome for the Sharks in a gritty, hard-working defensive role. Overall, they made some great moves to make their team a lot scarier.
Matt McGinnis – Minnesota Wild
No team elevated its standing more at the deadline than the Minnesota Wild.
Conference leaders like the Florida Panthers, Colorado Avalanche, and others solidified their status as contenders, but the key is that they were already deemed to be in that category.
The Wild, on the other hand, go from a team on the fringe of contender status to one of the favorites in the West. Adding Marc-Andre Fleury to support a below-average defense will improve this team immensely.
The offense is already there, now Minnesota has a three-time Cup champion in goal. This could be the year they finally make a deep playoff run.