First, the Wild sent Donato out west in exchange for a 2021 third-round draft pick.
That was followed by a separate deal that saw the Wild send Dubnyk and a 2022 seventh-round draft pick to the Sharks for a 2022 fifth-round draft pick. According to the Athletic’s Michael Russo, the Wild are retaining half of Dubnyk’s salary cap hit.
Let’s break this all down.
What the Sharks get
For starters, they finally addressed their goalie situation.
The Martin Jones–Aaron Dell duo has been one of the least productive goalie tandems in the league for two years now, and it had become a major drain on the defense and the team. Given how bad the duo was two years ago it was kind of baffling that they went into the 2019-20 season sticking with the same tandem. It was the classic, “we’ve tried nothing and we’re all out of ideas” approach.
Well, now they are at least trying something. The question is whether or not it is the right something.
The 34-year-old Dubnyk has one-year remaining on his contract and carries a $4.3 million salary cap hit (that San Jose is on the hook for half of). For most of his Minnesota tenure he was one of the league’s better goalies, twice finishing in the top-five of the Vezina Trophy voting.
But his 2019-20 season was by far the worst of his career and saw him finish near the bottom of the league in most goaltending metrics.
If he can bounce back and return to the form he showed during his first five seasons in Minnesota he could be a sizable upgrade. But that’s not a given to happen.
Donato, meanwhile, adds some much-needed forward depth to the Sharks’ roster. The 23-year-old scored 14 goals in 62 games this pas season despite playing just a little more than 10 minutes per game. He counts $1.9 million against the salary cap and will be a restricted free agent after this season. The Wild originally acquired him from the Boston Bruins in the Charlie Coyle trade during the 2018-19 season.
What the Wild Get
A little cap space and more of a clean slate to work with in building the roster.
By shedding Donato and Dubnyk (and half of his cap hit) for a couple of draft picks the Wild trim around $4 million off their cap number for the 2019-20 season and give general manager Bill Guerin a little flexibility to try and improve his roster.
His two biggest areas to address: Center, where the team is shockingly thin following the departure of Mikko Koivu, and goalie.
Right now Alex Stalock is the only NHL goalie under contract on the roster.
Between the free agent market and the trade market there are a ton of options available to them.
It is worth wondering if the Donato trade was worth it. He is a pretty good player, does not cost a ton of money, and the return is not really anything significant. A third-round pick is barely a 50-50 shot to even make the NHL, let alone become an NHL regular, and that pick is still a year away from being used (assuming it is not used as an asset in another trade before then).