When the Wild traded for Tom Gilbert last February, sending popular defenseman Nick Schultz to Edmonton for the former Bloomington Jefferson blueliner, it stood to reason the team was trying to sweeten its summer recruiting pitch for Ryan Suter by acquiring one of his old college teammates.
Suter spent his only season at the University of Wisconsin with Gilbert, and if the Wild were going to make a run at Suter when he hit the open market, the logic went, wouldn't it help their case if there were some familiar faces on the roster?
It all came together when Suter and Zach Parise signed 13-year deals with the Wild last July 4. But while Gilbert and Suter are manning the points on the team's top power-play unit, Gilbert is also delivering on the better, more concrete reasons the Wild acquired him in the first place.
So far, Gilbert been far more than just the "other" ex-Badger.
He has scored a point in the past four games and is tied for third on the team with six points. That total leads all Wild defensemen and is one more than Gilbert recorded in an uneven 20-game stretch last season with the Wild after the trade, when he had to adjust on the fly to the team's system. As it has turned out, Gilbert is an ideal fit for the north-south style of hockey that coach Mike Yeo wants to play, and after scuffling late last season, he's thriving early this year.
Tom Gilbert helps defense pick up the pace
St. Paul Pioneer Press | Feb 1