The Minnesota Wild have acquired 31-year-old forward David Jones from the Calgary Flames in exchange for veteran netminder Niklas Backstrom and a 2016 6th round draft pick.
Jones has played a depth role for the Flames over the last few years, averaging between 16 and 12 minutes per game. One of his perceived assets has been ability to be a contributor on the third line, but to also play up the roster. He’s even seen some time recently on Calgary’s top line as the third wheel with Sean Monahan and Johnny Gaudreau.
Jones has put up nine goals and 15 points through 59 games this season, following up a 14-goal, 30-point performance last year.
The Wild send away former All-Star goaltender Backstrom, who has only ever played for the Wild after being signed as an un-drafted free agent. This was his 10th season with the club, though he hasn’t found his way into a single game this season.
Backstrom may have been a buyout candidate over last summer to provide roster flexibility, since he signed his deal over 35 and wouldn’t actually offer any cap relief, but was ineligible for a buyout. That’s because for the second straight summer Backstrom required offseason surgery.
The Star Tribune’s Michael Russo reports that Backstrom, a pending UFA, hopes to play again next year and wants to get some games in. That’s why he waived his no movement clause to head to Calgary, where Karri Ramo is out for the year and Jonas Hiller has performed poorly.
“I want to recognize everything Niklas Backstrom has done for this franchise. I give him a lot of credit for putting the team first,” general manager Chuck Fletcher said of Backstrom.
Backstrom’s $3.14 million cap hit will save the Flames a little money down the stretch, with it coming in under Jones’s $4 million.
Fletcher said Backstrom wants to play hockey next year and wants to get games, so he was open to being traded; waived no trade #mnwild
— Michael Russo (@RussoHockey) February 29, 2016
Where Does Jones Go?
Under new head coach John Torchetti the Wild’s depth chart has been in flux. It’s not clear where Jones slots in. Presumably, he’s a third or fourth line player on this roster, but it’s not so easy as that.
The Wild waived Chris Porter over the weekend to clear space for a move like this. It must be assumed that Porter will be reassigned to make space for Jones then. However, Porter has been playing the last few games on the team’s second line with center Mikael Granlund. The third line with Erik Haula centering Nino Niederreiter and Jason Pominville, has been the team’s best in recent games, and it’s unlikely to be broken up.
Granlund’s other regular winger, Zach Parise, returned from injury last game and had some success on the team’s top line with Mikko Koivu and Charlie Coyle. So it’s most likely that it’s a simple Porter out, Jones in swap on Granlund’s second line.
Fletcher says that due to visa issues, Jones will not be able to join the team for Tuesday’s game against the Colorado Avalanche, reports Russo.
Thank you Niklas.
— Minnesota Wild (@mnwild) February 29, 2016
Dustin Nelson writes about news and the Minnesota Wild for The Hockey Writers.