The Minnesota Wild have traded goaltender Kaapo Kakkonen and a 2022 fifth-round draft pick to the San Jose Sharks in exchange for defenceman Jacob Middleton.
The trade comes in the wake of Wild GM Bill Guerin swinging a deal for former teammate Marc-Andre Fleury, the veteran netminder acquired from Chicago earlier on deadline day for a conditional draft pick. Sitting with a .908 save percentage this season after a Vezina-winning campaign in 2020-21, the 37-year-old is set to be an unrestricted free agent at the year's end.
Kahkonen, 25, is a pending restricted free agent following this season. Drafted in the fourth round by the Wild back in 2014, the Helsinki, Finland, native has played parts of the past three seasons in Minnesota, logging another year in the organization before that with AHL Iowa.
He leaves the club with 25 NHL games under his belt this season, during which time he managed a .910 save percentage and a 2.87 goals-against average.
Middleton, 26, joins the Wild amid his first full NHL season. The big-bodied defender has suited up for a career-high 45 games with San Jose so far in 2021-22, averaging just over 19 minutes of ice per night. The Wainwright, Alta., native appeared in 14 games at the NHL level over the prior three seasons, spending a few campaigns in the AHL and ECHL before that.
Both Kahkonen and Middleton are playing out the final seasons of two-year deals, both with cap hits of $725,000.