After a busy trade deadline, the retooled Winnipeg Jets will host the Minnesota Wild on Tuesday.
The Jets’ acquisition of center Kevin Hayes from the New York Rangers was the biggest of six trades swung by Winnipeg prior to Monday afternoon’s deadline. Hayes, who had 14 goals and 28 assists in 51 games for New York this season, is expected to be available for Tuesday’s game.
“It’s a great feeling to feel wanted there. … It’s been rumored for a bit that the Jets were going to be the place I was going to end up at,” Hayes said. “It’s nice that they gave up a lot for me. I’m hoping I can come in and show them that it was worth it.”
Hayes is an unrestricted free agent this summer, although even a short-term upgrade should help a Winnipeg team that is battling the Nashville Predators for first place in the Central Division. The Jets have struggled to a 3-5-2 mark in their last 10 games, with only 25 goals scored.
In other deals, Winnipeg added defensemen Bogdan Kiselevich and Nathan Beaulieu, forwards Par Lindholm and Matt Hendricks, and minor league center Alex Broadhurst.
Winnipeg was in particular need of defensive help, with Dustin Byfuglien and Joseph Morrow on injured reserve. The blue line may have taken another major blow with the possible loss of Josh Morrissey.
After leaving Sunday’s 4-1 loss to Arizona with an apparent upper-body injury, Morrissey isn’t expected to play against Minnesota. The severity of Morrissey’s injury wasn’t yet announced as of Monday.
Beyond trading Hendricks to the Jets, Minnesota generated its own share of deadline news by trading Mikael Granlund to Nashville on Monday. For Granlund, the Wild received Kevin Fiala, who had 32 points (10 goals, 22 assists) for the Predators this season.
It was the latest in a series of moves that have the Wild looking to get younger and less expensive, following recent trades of Charlie Coyle and Nino Niederreiter. The Coyle trade came on the heels of a 10-game stretch in which the Wild posted a 1-6-3 record.
Since that deal, however, Minnesota has won three straight games to get back into the postseason race.
Ryan Donato has emerged as an unexpected deadline acquisition, with a goal and three assists in three games since coming from Boston in the Coyle trade. Donato was the hero on Sunday, scoring the overtime winner in Minnesota’s 2-1 victory over St. Louis.
“The whole experience has been a blessing so far. … There’s a lot of good guys on this team and they’re all pushing to get a win,” Donato said. “It’s been a pretty tough road for them in the last couple of weeks, so I think it was definitely huge for us to get these three wins, and hopefully we can stay hot.”
Devan Dubnyk is expected be in net for the Wild on Tuesday, making his fifth start in eight days. The workload hasn’t appeared to impact Dubnyk, who has a .956 save percentage and a 1.32 goals-against average in his last three outings.
Connor Hellebuyck is the likely starter for Winnipeg, after backup goalie Laurent Brossoit got the call against Arizona.
Minnesota has won all three previous games against Winnipeg this season.
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