Category Archives: Minnesota Wild
If the Wild can’t sign free agent and former Gopher Thomas Vanek of the New York Islanders after the season, look for them to pursue Hastings native Derek Stepan of the New York Rangers. Either player would provide the one additional scorer the Wild need to contend for a Stanley Cup.
Minnesota forward and ex-Buffalo teammate Jason Pominville said he’s asked daily about the prospects of Vanek rejoining him.
Vanek understands the interest but didn’t get asked about it much while he was home.
Almost daily, Jason Pominville will get recognized around the Twin Cities. He’s always flattered, although inevitably the Wild winger knows where the conversation will usually end up.
It takes mere minutes for hockey-mad Wild and Gophers fans to ask Pominville if his former Buffalo Sabres teammate, Thomas Vanek, will soon be reuniting with him in Minnesota.
Pretty much everybody feels winger Thomas Vanek will be leaving the Buffalo Sabres at season’s end and may take a pay-cut to play in Minnesota, where he went to school. The tie-in is also Vanek’s Buffalo buddy Jason Pominville, who just got a five-year deal with the Minnesota Wild.
Typically, deals like this come down on the draft floor or just before the draft because the Wild is looking for either a first-round pick in the Clutterbuck deal (teams are hesitant to give up firsts right now because this draft is so deep) or a second so it could potentially use two seconds to try to move into the first round.
And often times when picks are involved, the teams involved want to make certain first the player they want to take is still sitting there. For instance, in 2006 when the Wild acquired Pavol Demitra for a first and Patrick O’Sullivan, the L.A. Kings didn’t agree to the deal until they were certain Trevor Lewis would still be there.
If the Pittsburgh Penguins reverse course and decide that they’ve had enough of Marc-Andre Fleury—though there’s no indication that’s going to happen—they have at least one potential trade partner.
The Minnesota Wild “expressed interest” in Fleury, who at the moment is a slightly above-average regular-season goalie that self-destructs in the postseason, according to Michael Russo of the Star Tribune.
So, just do the math. Not only does the Wild not have a No. 1 goalie yet, it hasn’t re-signed restricted free agents Cal Clutterbuck, Jared Spurgeon and maybe Justin Falk.
So the reality is Fletcher will have to create some cap flexibility. Not everybody can come back. There will be trades, potential buyouts, etc.
(Remember, you can surpass the salary-cap ceiling by 10 percent during the offseason as long as you get cap compliant by opening night).
Will the Wild make a splash? “I would like some of our young players to get experience and learn how to play in tough situations,” Fletcher said. “We can’t hide them. They have to go through the process at some point. You can’t just skip it and all of a sudden have these mature players that are just going to come in and play like veterans.”
In 2005-06, Anaheim, with Fletcher as an executive, played rookies Ryan Getzlaf, Corey Perry and Dustin Penner. They got valuable experience and a season later, the Ducks won a Stanley Cup with the trio making significant contributions.
Fletcher doesn’t want to make moves at the deadline that would lessen the roles that Wild rookies Jonas Brodin (top-pair defenseman), Charlie Coyle (first-line right wing) and Jason Zucker (playing second-line left wing before an injury opened the door for Pierre-Marc Bouchard to reestablish himself) would have if the Northwest Division-leading Wild makes the playoffs.
“If they can get this experience, it’ll make them and our team better down the road,” Fletcher said.
As for Cullen, 36, and Backstrom, 35, they’re in the last years of their deals. That always leads to trade rumors two weeks before the deadline because the common theory is teams want to get something for a player they may lose for nothing in the summertime.
Murray has never been afraid to make moves. The Senators may need another top-six forward who can contribute. If the Minnesota Wild decide to deal Matt Cullen, don’t be surprised if the Senators show interest. He had eight points in 21 games down the stretch in 2010. The dreamers will want them to get Anaheim’s Corey Perry. Not happening.
Matt Cullen is a savvy pro. At 36, in his 16th season, he knows how it works.
The trade deadline is April 3. He is in the last year of a contract that would make him an unrestricted free agent if the Wild chooses not to re-sign him.
That means, without fail, Cullen will be the subject of trade rumors for the next month.
In hockey, when you’ve tried everything but firing the coach and your team doesn’t respond, you tend to fire the coach. Maybe owner Craig Leipold won’t force that move immediately, but he has no reason to be patient after making an immense investment in front-line talent and watching his team fall apart.
Whether Mike Yeo is responsible for his team’s slump is irrelevant.