The Wild didn't add the veteran forward they coveted on Saturday during the first day of NHL free agency, but they did acquire that player in a trade before the weekend was over.
Three-time Stanley Cup champion Pat Maroon joined the Wild on Sunday from Tampa Bay, along with minor-leaguer Max Cajkovic, in exchange for a 2024 seventh-round pick.
Since the Lightning retained 20% of Maroon's contract, which expires after next season, the Wild are the hook for only $800,000, which is exactly how much General Manager Bill Guerin said the team had to spend after a quiet start to free agency. The team signed centers Vinni Lettieri and Jake Lucchini on Saturday to two-way contracts.
The rest of the Wild's salary cap space is being reserved for their restricted free agents, with goaltender Filip Gustavsson, forward Brandon Duhaime and defenseman Calen Addison needing new deals.
Maroon is coming off a five-goal, nine-assist season with Tampa Bay in which he logged a league-high 150 penalty minutes in 80 games.
A native of St. Louis, the 6-foot-3, 235-pound left wing has been in the NHL for 12 seasons, a career that includes stints with Anaheim, Edmonton, New Jersey and St. Louis before he won back-to-back Stanley Cups with the Lightning in 2020 and 2021. Maroon was also with the Blues in 2019 when they clinched the Cup. He became the first player in the NHL expansion era to win the Stanley Cup in three consecutive seasons with different teams.
Overall, the 35-year-old has 117 goals and 171 assists for 288 points through 729 career games after being drafted in the sixth round (No. 161) by Philadelphia in 2007. In 150 playoff appearances, Maroon's recorded 23 goals and 28 assists.
As for Cajkovic, 22, he's played the last two seasons in the ECHL and American Hockey League, scoring a combined 21 goals and tallying 24 assists.
A Slovakian, Cajkovic was drafted in the third round by Tampa Bay in 2019.
Not only does Maroon bring the experience the Wild were looking for to complement their forward group, but he also has an energy factor — attributes that make up for the loss of Ryan Reaves, the gritty fourth-liner who signed a free-agent contract with Toronto after one season with the Wild.