So, Chuck Kobasew has been traded from the Boston Bruins to the Minnesota Wild:
2nd round pick in 2011
From Boston's perspective the intent is obvious. Kobasew is a good player that will make 2.33M both this season and next. The focus for them was on the salary, not the ability. Including Kobasew the Bruins had already committed over 42M to 12 players for next season with a bunch of important cogs still left to re-sign including Marc Savard, Blake Wheeler, Andrew Ference and Mark Stuart. Savard alone will likely cost 5.5M at minimum which would have left them at 47.5M with another 8 players to sign to fill a 21-man roster. If the cap declined even slightly, say 55M, it would have left the Bruins just under 1M per player, again, assuming a 21-man roster. Kobasew's departure was made necessary largely because of these cap concerns which only increased when the Bruins decided to give Milan Lucic an overly generous contract extension. Losing 2.33M against the cap gives the Bruins a bit more wiggle room as it reduces the Bruins cap number to about 45.5M after a Savard extension of around 5.5M per year. That leaves them just over 1M per player assuming a 21-man roster and gives them a legitimate chance at signing guys like Ference and Stuart to contract extensions.
As for the non-cap return, Craig Weller is a money-saving dump by the Wild. He's on a one-way deal and is playing in the minors. After the deal Boston called up three players and Weller wasn't one of them (Sobotka, Marchand and Lefebvre). Fallstrom is a big high schooler taken in this past year's entry draft who will be playing at Harvard this year. He was probably the guy the Bruins took off Minnesota's "B" or "C" prospect list. It's likely that he won't amount to much but you never do know. The second round pick is a lottery ticket that looks pretty likely to be in the top fifty and is the most valuable piece in the deal by a mile. I'm actually quite impressed that the Bruins were able to get as much value as they did out of a salary dump. I imagine they were able to increase the value of the pick for their willingness to pay Weller to play in the AHL.
Minnesota clearly wanted Kobasew. As I mentioned earlier, he wasn't an important cog in the Bruins machine. He ranked 8th in quality of competition last season but had one of the most unfavourable starting situations on the Bruins (200 offensive zone faceoffs vs. 247 defensive zone faceoffs). He also logged the 4th most ice time per game among Bruin forwards at even strength. Of Kobasew's 42 points, 33 came at even strength which is a pretty good number. His performance in 2007-08 was very similar across the board, though Kobasew did take on a slightly more difficult competition with a slightly better starting position ratio. Although Kobasew is off to a rough start to the season, he should make the Wild a better team this year, especially at even strength. Since the Wild have most of their top guns signed to affordable deals heading into next year they can also afford this contract without a problem. It reduces the amount that they have to spend in free agency this summer but it also gives them a chance to improve immediately which a first year GM with a 1-5 record might feel compelled to do.
It's a strange world where the Wild end up a better hockey team, the Bruins a worse one and yet the deal makes sense for both teams. If Boston re-signs Savard to an affordable contract without shedding more salary this deal is a win for them. For Minnesota this deal is a win so long as Kobasew's performance doesn't fall off a cliff. Considering he's in the prime of his career (28) there should be very little chance of that happening.