NEW YORK — Minnesota Wild team president and general manager Bill Guerin felt he got a pretty good read on his team over the first month of the 2023-24 season.
His takeaway? The group’s defensive play needed a boost. From the forwards to the blue line, the level wasn’t high enough, and it wasn’t just because captain Jared Spurgeon has been sidelined.
“We were giving up chances,” Guerin said. “We needed some size, we needed some heaviness.”
Enter Zach Bogosian.
The Wild made a couple of trades on Wednesday’s off day in New York, first shipping young defenseman Calen Addison to the San Jose Sharks for minor-league forward Adam Raska and a 2026 fifth-rounder, then turning around and acquiring Bogosian from the Tampa Bay Lightning for a seventh-rounder in 2025. The two moves were connected and came down to two key factors:
1. The Wild felt they knew what they had in Addison, the 23-year-old defenseman, and what they didn’t, which is why he was shopped over the summer. While there were some improvements in his game, Addison’s strength — his work on the power play — can be replaced internally by others, including with the current five-forward alignment, with soon-to-be-returning Spurgeon or with rookie Brock Faber.
2. Bogosian may have had his struggles in Tampa Bay, playing in just four games this season and passing through waivers at one point, but the hard-nosed veteran brings something the Wild lacked on the back end: a rugged, right-shot defenseman with size and championship experience.
“For what we need right now, defensively, I think Zach fits us a little bit better,” Guerin said. “Our power play needs are being fulfilled in other areas. Calen Addison is a good player. He’s an NHL player. I had a long history with him. Sometimes, you just need a change — a better opportunity. And he’s going to get that.
“It’s always hard moving on from a guy that you’ve known since draft day. But I believe this will be a step in the right direction.”
Guerin was part of the Penguins brass when they drafted Addison in the second round in 2018. After coming to Minnesota, he then acquired the right-shot defenseman, along with a first-round pick and Alex Galchenyuk, in 2020 in the Jason Zucker deal.
But over the past year, it appeared that Addison hit a wall. He was scratched 20 times last regular season and in all six playoff games. He was shopped in the offseason to no avail. His underlying numbers, even through a rough first few weeks for the Wild, were improving, though. He came into camp with a “different” attitude after training in Minnesota all summer, wanting to prove to the Wild he should stay.
‘He took it on the chin’: How Calen Addison hopes to go from scratch to Wild staple
“Honestly, I feel (Addison) was kind of dropping in our lineup, and I think at this point in time in his career, a change was going to be good,” Guerin said. “Sometimes at a young age when you’re figuring things out, when you’re trying to find out who you really are, a change can be really good. He’s going to San Jose and getting an opportunity to play big minutes and an important role.
“We needed to give him a fair chance and see how it was going to work out. We just didn’t see it going the direction we needed it to go.”
With the moves, it’s become a lot clearer what the Wild’s blue line is expected to look like the rest of the season, especially when Spurgeon returns, which Guerin said could come as early as Sunday against the Stars.
Dakota Mermis has played well enough to earn a spot in the lineup. It’d be challenging for him to pass through waivers at this point anyway. So when Spurgeon is back, Daemon Hunt is probably going to be sent back. (These deals also don’t impact the cap very much, as Bogosian effectively replaces Addison’s cap hit — only $25,000 more.)
Here’s a look at how the pairs figure to shake out:
Jonas Brodin-Brock Faber
Jake Middleton-Jared Spurgeon
Dakota Mermis-Zach Bogosian
Bogosian, the No. 3 pick in the 2008 NHL draft by (believe it or not) the Atlanta Thrashers, has been a healthy scratch at times this season for the Lightning. The 6-foot-3, 231-pound defenseman won the Stanley Cup with the Lightning in 2020 and is good friends with current Wild winger Pat Maroon. Bogosian lives in the Twin Cities area in the offseason, and his brother, Aaron, is part of the Wild’s analytics team. The transition should be a relatively easy one for the veteran, who should also get a bigger opportunity to play in the third pair and on the PK.
We’ll break down the trade of course, but for #mnwild fans who want to get to know new defenseman Zach Bogosian, I went to his hometown of Massena, N.Y., spent time with him and his family to capture his journey and blue-collar roots https://t.co/D3X428f7X0
— Joe Smith (@JoeSmithNHL) November 8, 2023
“We need to be able to defend, and that’s what Zach can bring to the table,” Guerin said. “He’s bigger. He’s heavier. And I just think that’s something we need to improve on. … The experience, not just playing in the league, but winning and being on a championship-caliber team, and having connections to guys like Maroon. He knows a lot of the guys on our team because’s he’s a local guy now. He’s not from Minnesota but makes his home here.
“And he’s married to a girl from Eastern Massachusetts, so that makes him smart.”
Bogosian also, like Maroon, should be a motivated player. He’s in the last year of his deal, trying to prove that he can be effective for a team not only this season but beyond. There were some questions from fans about Maroon when he got acquired, and he’s exceeded expectations, Guerin said Wednesday.
Meanwhile, Addison didn’t appear in the Wild’s plans beyond this season, right or wrong, with his role diminishing since getting taken off the top power play. This move, in theory, helps Minnesota’s blue line add size and sandpaper that it’s lacked on the right side. Alex Goligoski will eventually return from long-term injured reserve, giving them essentially two veteran defensemen as scratches (along with Jon Merrill), so there could be another move at some point.
But even as the Wild have won back-to-back games for the first time this season, Guerin felt it was time to strike.
“I don’t need 70 games to figure out what we need,” Guerin said. “The proof is in the pudding. We’re giving up chances and we needed some size, some heaviness. Our power play was good with the guys that we can put out there. I don’t think it’s a rash decision. Calen is a good player, but he’s got 100 games in the league now. We felt we know what he is for us. That’s not to say he’s the finished product, but what we need right now is something different.”
Wild acquire Bogosian after trading Addison
(Top photo of Zach Bogosian: David Berding / USA Today)