Minnesota Wild & Pittsburgh Penguins Pull Off Trade

The Minnesota Wild have made a move to boost their blueline depth by acquiring former New Jersey Devils and Buffalo Sabres five-year NHL veteran defenseman Will Butcher from the Pittsburgh Penguins.

In return, the Penguins acquire forward Maxim Cajkovic, whose $925,000 contract at the NHL level expires at season's end, at which time he'll become a restricted free agent.

Butcher will become a UFA after this season. The 29-year-old former Hobey Baker winner was a fifth-round pick of the Colorado Avalanche in the 2013 NHL Entry Draft, and spent four seasons with the Devils and one with the Sabres, compiling 114 points in 275 games.

He spent all of the 2022-23 campaign in the AHL. With the Texas Stars, the D-man racked up 43 points in 65 games, and his 36 assists set a franchise record for most helpers by a defenseman in a single season.

The Penguins signed Butcher this past summer to a two-way contract with a $775,000 NHL salary and a $425,000 salary in the AHL, where he's spent most of his season.  He's recorded 7 points in 14 games with a plus/minus of +6. 

Insider Michael Russo indicates that Butcher is likely to start in the Wild organization with their AHL affiliate in Iowa.

Maxim Cajkovic, a former 3rd-round pick of the Tampa Bay Lightning in the 2019 Draft, has yet to play in the NHL. The 23-year-old from Slovakia was having a nice season with the Iowa Heartlanders of the ECHL, with 12 goals and 18 points in 20 games.

Photo: Marc DesRosiers-USA TODAY Sports