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Wild will lose Haula in expansion draft

By Chad Graff

Pioneer Press

In order to protect defensemen Matt Dumba and Marco Scandella, the Wild have agreed to a trade with the Vegas Golden Knights that will send top prospect Alex Tuch to Vegas and result in the Golden Knights selecting Erik Haula in Wednesday night’s expansion draft, multiple sources said.

While the Wild exposed Dumba, Scandella, and leading goal-scorer Eric Staal in the expansion draft, they persuaded the Golden Knights to take Haula by agreeing to a trade centered around Tuch.

Wild general manager Chuck Fletcher understood that he “might have to give (the Golden Knight) a very good asset to make them not take a good player” from his current roster.

“There are different ways for them to achieve their goals and for us to achieve our goals,” Fletcher said last week. “We just have to find some common ground. … There are certainly ways, I think, that we could come to an arrangement that benefits both parties.”

That’s exactly what happened.

Haula, 26, provides the Golden Knights with a solid two-way player that should benefit from a change of scenery. A former University of Minnesota star and Finland native, Haula played in 266 games for the Wild since they drafted him in the seventh round of the 2009 NHL Draft and recorded a career-high 15 goals last season.

Haula is a restricted free agent who is expected to sign a multi-year deal with the Golden Knights, one source said.

Tuch, 21, is oozing with potential after being selected by the Wild in first round of the 2014 NHL Draft. He was widely considered as one of the top prospects in the Wild farm system, and while he failed to record a point in six NHL games last season, he is a big-bodied winger that has the potential to make a difference as a Top 6 forward for the Golden Knights down the road.

Tuch, however, was likely seen as expendable for the Wild based on the fact that prospects like Joel Eriksson Ek and Luke Kunin might be ready for the NHL as early as next season.

Meanwhile, the trade allows the Wild to keep their five prized defensemen — protected Ryan Suter, Jared Spurgeon, and Jonas Brodin, as well as Dumba and Scandella.