Pontus Aberg was supposed to be playing for the Anaheim Ducks on Thursday at Xcel Energy Center.
Instead, he’ll be wearing a Wild sweater.
Aberg, who has 11 goals midway through the season for the struggling Ducks, was traded to the Wild for minor league scoring leader Justin Kloos on Wednesday.
The deal, made more than halfway through the season and with six weeks to go before the NHL trade deadline, is the first significant move made by Wild General Manager Paul Fenton since he was brought on in May. And it reunited him with a player from his past.
Aberg, a 25-year-old who gives the Wild forward versatility and a righthanded shot, was drafted by the Predators in the second round (37th overall) in 2012 when Fenton was Nashville’s assistant general manager. That draft pick, which changed hands four times, was originally owned by the Wild, which lost it in the Brent Burns trade with San Jose in 2011.
After spending parts of two seasons with the Predators, Aberg was traded to Edmonton last February before getting claimed off waivers by Anaheim in October. The native of Stockholm, Sweden, already has established career highs in goals and assists (eight), and as a skilled skater could easily move into the Wild’s top nine. Before his arrival, the Wild had only three healthy right shots up front.
Despite being tied for second on the Ducks in goals, Aberg had been a healthy scratch from the lineup the past four games while the team’s franchise-worst losing skid reached 12.
He’s in the final season of a two-year, $1.3 million contract and will become a restricted free agent when it expires. Overall, he has 16 goals and 37 points in 105 career games. His addition puts the Wild’s roster at 22; center Eric Fehr (lower body injury) has been shifted to injured reserve.
Kloos, a former Gophers captain and Lakeville South standout, racked up 12 goals and a team-high 30 points for Iowa this season in the American Hockey League. He appeared in just one game with the Wild last season after signing as a free agent in 2017.
His counterpart in the deal, Aberg, is the first NHL regular Fenton has acquired via trade since he became GM. Not only is Aberg familiar with Fenton, but he also played for assistant coach Dean Evason when he was at the helm of Nashville’s AHL affiliate.
The transition will be helped because the Ducks were already in the Twin Cities on Wednesday. The Wild has four games remaining before an eight-day All-Star break and bye week.