In case you missed it, here's Tuesday's article from the paper on the draft, potential trades, etc. There will be a lot more draft coverage in this week's papers. Also, try to get to bottom of this meaty blog because there's a Niklas Backstrom development.
Devan Dubnyk, in Las Vegas with his wife, son, parents, brother, sister, mother-in-law, brother-in-law, three buddies and Wild goalie coach Bob Mason, met with Wild GM Chuck Fletcher for a half-hour this morning.
The hope is the two sides can agree to a contract this week and avoid Dubnyk becoming a free agent July 1. He technically can begin talking to other teams during the NHL’s free-agent interview period starting Thursday, but Dubnyk said that is not a deadline in his mind.
“We had a good conversation,” Dubnyk said by phone from Shadow Creek Golf Course, one of the most famous courses in the world. “The stuff I’ve read has made it definitely a lot bigger than it is. Nothing’s really changed between us. I want to be there. [Fletcher] wants me to be there, and we’re going to work as hard as we can to get something done.
“We’re going through the process. We’re in the same spot where we were. Both sides want to make it happen. We’re going to work to try to get something done that both sides are happy with. I feel like we’re going to be able to do that hopefully.”
Dubnyk said, “More has been made of what has happened than has actually happened.”
In other words, other than emails back and forth between Fletcher and agent Mike Liut, the two sides really haven’t spoken since originally meeting at the combine in Buffalo earlier this month. Fletcher, in Vegas for today’s GM’s meeting, will fly to South Florida to meet with Liut on Wednesday and Thursday.
“There’s no hard feelings or anything,” Dubnyk said. “It’s the same place it was after the season. We’re looking to get something done. I hope that happens.”
Asked if he’s worried that if a deal isn’t done by the first round of the draft Friday night that the Wild could potentially make a trade (Friday is typically the day lots of trades happen in the NHL, and as Fletcher as quipped, he plans to have two goalies next season), Dubnyk said, “I guess, but I hope it doesn’t get there. Knowing that both sides want to get something done, we should be able to avoid a situation like that. But that’s a bit out of my control. I can’t worry about that. You go through it and trust that it’s going to happen.”
“I just loved in Minnesota,” Dubnyk continued. “It’s not [even the success and reviving my career]. It’s the city to the fans to the organization – Chuck, Yeozie (coach Mike Yeo) and the guys and just how everybody treated me. I want to be there and I’d like to be there for a long time.”
Dubnyk, a longshot to win the Vezina Trophy on Wednesday but likely having a good chance to win the Masterton, is pinching himself that he’s even in Las Vegas for such a prestigious event. Almost exactly a year ago, he went to Vegas with buddies and the talk all trip was the concern of where he’d play the upcoming season or even if he would get a job after playing on three teams in a season and ending up in the minors with the Montreal Canadiens.
Now he’s up for two big awards after a career resurrection.
“This is a better was to do Vegas,” Dubnyk said, laughing.
I'll have more on Dubnyk's trip to Vegas in Wednesday's newspaper.
In related news, the NHL and NHL Players' Association announced this morning that next season's salary-cap ceiling will be $71.4 million -- $2.1 million more than last season and a little more than projected because the players voted to use their 5 percent escalator.
That puts more money in the system to help players get/keep jobs and aids cap-strapped teams, but it will also mean more escrow taken out of paychecks next season.
How does this affect the Wild?
It has $12,811,991 of cap space this summer before re-signing potentially Dubnyk, Mikael Granlund, Erik Haula and Christian Folin.
That means barring trades that $58,588,099 is committed to eight forwards (Zach Parise, Mikko Koivu, Thomas Vanek, Jason Pominville, Charlie Coyle, Nino Niederreiter, Justin Fontaine and Jason Zucker), five defensemen (Ryan Suter, Jonas Brodin, Marco Scandella, Jared Spurgeon and Matt Dumba) and two goalies (Niklas Backstrom and Darcy Kuemper). That also includes a $500,000 cap charge for bought-out Matt Cooke.
There's a 23-man roster, so that means maybe $12.8 million to spend on eight players. Those eight would be re-signing their current players like Dubnyk, Granlund, etc., signing free agents and bubble players like Jordan Schroeder and/or Tyler Graovac making the team.
I say maybe in the above paragraph because it's really less because Fletcher will want to be at least a few million below the cap for callups and potential trades. It's also less because all teams have budgets and maybe Fletcher is not able to spend to the cap.
Regardless, it's tight.
I will say this: Something very interesting was discovered by me today.
As it turns out, Haula DOES have arbitration rights (I previously reported only Jon Blum does). If Haula filed for arbitration, that would open up a second buyout window potentially for Backstrom next month IF Backstrom would be cleared from elbow surgery by then. It's unknown if Backstrom would be. Fletcher has not spelled out when Backstrom would be cleared.
The interesting thing here: As I reported on yesterday's blog, Backstrom changed agents, hiring Jay Grossman, who happens to be Haula's agent.
Grossman will meet with Fletcher and Wild director of hockey administration Shep Harder (the Wild's cap guy and CBA expert) this week in Florida.
Grossman said that whatever decision he makes with Haula and arbitration is not in any way reflective or has anything to do with his other client, Backstrom.
Remember, even if the Wild somehow finds a way to buy out Backstrom, it would be a full $3.417 million cap hit because he signed his contract as a 35-year-old-and-over.