The Minnesota Wild have traded goaltender Kaapo Kahkonen and a fifth-round pick to the San Jose Sharks in exchange for left-shot defenseman Jacob Middleton. The deal comes in the direct aftermath of Wild general manager, Bill Guerin, obtaining Marc-Andre Fleury via trade from the Chicago Blackhawks.
Sharks also get a 5th RD pick from Minnesota in this deal https://t.co/LGFxwnkLdM
— Pierre LeBrun (@PierreVLeBrun) March 21, 2022
Goaltender Kaapo Kahkonen Traded by the Minnesota Wild
Kaapo Kahkonen departs Minneapolis with a respectable .907 save percentage in 54 games with two shutouts and a 2.89 goals-against average. In 2021-22, the Finnish netminder has placed around the middle of the pack in terms of preventing expected goals. According to Money Puck, Kahkonen ranks 31st out of 68 goaltenders with 0.1 goals saved above expected.
Drafted in the fourth round in 2014, the 25-year old goalie will join only his second NHL club. He will likely slot in behind James Reimer and Adin Hill on the depth chart. Meanwhile, San Jose also recaptures the 2022 fifth-round pick they gave away when they traded for Devan Dubnyk at the 2020 deadline.
On the other side of the trade, Minnesota receives hard-nosed defenceman Jacob Middleton. In 45 games this season he has ranked second in team penalty minutes, third in blocks and sixth in hits.
What This Means Going Forward
Due to the cap penalties that are about to be enforced on the Wild, following their offseason buyouts of Zach Parise and Ryan Suter, this is a ‘shoot and don’t miss’-type year. Going after a three-time Stanley Cup winner in net seems like a good way of reinforcing the team’s intent. Though with Fleury’s addition, there is no room for Kahkonen, who has struggled of late.
On the flip side, San Jose can consider this a massive boon. For a club that has struggled with average goaltending for years, they have picked up a rookie who has, for the most part, started his NHL career very positively. It also begs the question as to whether the Sharks are about to ship out 34-year-old starter James Reimer.
With Adin Hill and Kaapo Kahkonen now on the books, the Sharks can drum up a healthy competition for the starter’s role among two young goaltenders. Both will hopefully be a solid part of the team’s restructure.