The Minnesota Wild are making big changes to their crease for the final stretch of the season.
Shortly after acquiring reigning Vezina winner Marc-Andre Fleury, the Wild have dealt goaltender Kaapo Kahkonen to the San Jose Sharks in exchange for defenseman Jacob Middleton and a fifth-round draft pick.
Kahkonen is an intriguing young netminder currently in his second full NHL season at the moment, and almost certainly wouldn't have been dealt were it not for the acquisition of Fleury minutes before.
The 25-year-old has a .910 save percentage in 25 appearances this season, splitting the Wild net with veteran Cam Talbot to encouraging results.
Acquiring Kahkonen gives the Sharks another young netminder to pair with 25-year-old Adin Hill, hopefully adding stability to their depth in net that has been anything but in recent years, and likely meaning that veteran James Reimer is on his way out in a trade of his own.
In Middleton, the Wild bring in a 26-year-old depth defender with a limited ceiling but a track record of encouraging underlying numbers in his own zone.
Middleton provides little in the realm of offensive production, sitting with just four goals and nine points in 45 games this season, but has been logging close to 20 minutes per night for the Sharks in 2021-22, and will add a decent piece to Minnesota's bottom-four.
It's clear that the Wild are putting all their chips in on this season. With Fleury set to become a free agent at the end of the year and nearing age 40, and Cam Talbot turning 35 before next season starts, the Wild are leaving themselves somewhat exposed in net moving forward after dealing their best young goaltender.