The Wild GM has been busy reshaping his roster and he now adds a veteran center. The move also reunites Staal with Sabres GM Kevyn Adams and Jeff Skinner, both former Hurricanes teammates.
Staal and Johansson both have a year left on their current deals. The 35-year-old Staal carries a $3.25M cap hit ($3M actual salary), while the 29-year-old Johansson brings a $4.5M cap hit ($4M actual salary).
According to TSN’s Pierre LeBrun, both players had a 10-team no-trade list in their contracts, but their new teams were not on their respective lists.
Under the recent CBA memo of understanding, players with modified no-trade lists had until yesterday to revamp their lists. Staal turned in a new one yesterday, I’m told, that did not have the Sabres on it.
— Michael Russo (@RussoHockey) September 16, 2020
Staal, who should slot in behind Jack Eichel at center, is coming off a 19-goal, 47-point season. His experience should be helpful for Dylan Cozens, the Sabres’ 2019 first-round pick. Cozens spent last season back in junior with Lethbridge (WHL), but he’ll be aiming for a regular spot in Ralph Krueger’s lineup next season.
With Mikko Koivu likely moving on or retiring, and Staal now gone, Joel Eriksson Ek, Victor Rask, and Nick Bjugstad highlight Minnesota’s depth down the middle. Johansson, who scored nine times in 60 games this season, is also an option after playing center in Buffalo, but he’s spent majority of his NHL career on the wing.
Guerin has had a busy off-season already. Bjugstad was acquired from Pittsburgh for center help, Jonas Brodin signed a seven-year extension, and now this move. Between wanting to upgrade his goaltending and eyeing help down the middle, there’s more to come from the Wild GM.