Chuck Fletcher wouldn’t let me borrow his cellphone.
Under the guise that mine was on the fritz, I asked the Wild general manager if I could quickly borrow his before Thursday’s game against the Edmonton Oilers.
Fletcher started laughing and offered me stale press box popcorn instead. He’s known me for 19 years, dating to the days he was a young assistant general manager for the Florida Panthers and I was a young cub reporter covering them for the Sun-Sentinel.
So, Fletcher wasn’t born yesterday.
But if I could just get a quick peek at Fletcher’s call log and e-mail inbox, it would make everything so much easier leading up to Wednesday’s trade deadline.
I wouldn’t just assume that Fletcher’s talking daily with one of his closest friends, Tim Murray (the two worked together for years in Florida and Anaheim), who’s in his infancy as the Buffalo Sabres GM.
Murray showed Friday night that he is open for business when he traded goalie Ryan Miller and captain Steve Ott to the Blues for Jaroslav Halak, Chris Stewart, a prospect and two draft picks, including a 2015 first-rounder.
This came a few days after a press scrum in which Murray was so candid, you would have sworn it was actually his uncle, Senators GM Bryan Murray, talking.
Tim Murray showed Friday he’s willing to trade anybody and everybody. Next up will be Matt Moulson (Wild may have interest), and maybe even Christian Ehrhoff, Tyler Myers and Drew Stafford.
Fletcher inquired about Miller, but the price was too high. Since rookie Darcy Kuemper looks capable of holding the No. 1 reins, Fletcher was unwilling to give up the farm.
But goaltending likely still will be a priority because, what if Kuemper gets hurt and the Wild is left with Backstrom, who is ailing because of an abdominal issue?
Murray is now trying to trade Halak to the Wild. He’s 28, in the last year of his contract and was 24-9-4 with the Blues with a 2.23 goals-against average. But some inside the Wild worry he was a product of the Blues’ stingy system and there’s a reason St. Louis felt Miller, not Halak, was the final piece of a Stanley Cup puzzle.
But if the price is right, Fletcher could pull the trigger.
The Wild has talked to New Jersey about future Hall of Famer Martin Brodeur, who might be willing to waive his no-trade clause to come to Minnesota. Brodeur, who has two children at Shattuck-St. Mary’s, said after backstopping the Devils to a victory over the Islanders on Saturday that any team trading for him wouldn’t have to guarantee the No. 1 job. He just wants to play more than he does now.
The Wild has talked to Carolina about former Stanley Cup-winning goalie Cam Ward, sources say. But his exorbitant contact is an issue. Fletcher and Oilers GM Craig MacTavish were huddled during the second intermission of their game Thursday, and there’s little doubt eccentric goalie Ilya Bryzgalov, whom the Wild inquired about before he signed with Edmonton, has been offered.
The former No. 1 with Phoenix and Philadelphia could cost squat (probably a midround draft pick in what, by all accounts, is a terrible draft), too.
Florida’s Tim Thomas and Carolina’s Anton Khudobin, an ex-Wild, might also be on the block.
What else? The Islanders are working hard to trade Vanek. Since the Wild might pursue him this summer as a free agent, it’s likely the only way Fletcher takes a nibble is if GM Garth Snow’s asking price drops. Wild guess? He hasn’t called Columbus about Marian Gaborik.
Trade-deadline time is always fun, although rumors run so freely in today’s social media world, it’s hard to differentiate between truth, speculation and pure fiction.
The Wild could use a scorer, a defenseman and some goalie insurance. It can’t address every need in today’s cap world, though.
So which player is Minnesota closest to getting? It’d be a shot in the dark unless Fletcher would be so kind and hand over his cellphone.
NHL Short Takes
A gold medalist with a grudge?
Reports began to circulate last week that Tampa Bay Lightning veteran star Martin St. Louis had asked to be traded and the Lightning and New York Rangers were talking about a captain-for-captain (Ryan Callahan) swap.
Those reports were initially discounted until St. Louis held a press scrum, confirmed he had spoken to GM Steve Yzerman about his future and left it at that, refusing to refute the reports.
Speculation is that despite the Lightning being third in the East, St. Louis’ feelings were hurt by Yzerman not originally choosing him for the Canadian Olympic team (never mind that he eventually won gold as an injury replacement for Lightning teammate Steven Stamkos).
If true, St. Louis should grow up, especially with the Lightning third in the East and having a chance to do some damage in the playoffs.
Big buzz about Kesler
A day later, Quebec TV reporter Louis Jean reported that Vancouver Canucks center Ryan Kesler has asked to be traded, something he categorically denied the next day. It certainly appears, though, that where there’s smoke there’s fire here.
If Kesler is on the block, 29 teams would have interest, although only a few would have a legitimate chance (Detroit, Columbus, Philadelphia?) and it would take a boatload to get him.
“Whether he wants to go or stay, he’s not going anywhere,” joked Roberto Luongo, who has wanted to be dealt for some time. “We all know how this script ends.”
He said it
Blues captain and U.S. Olympian David Backes, on whether Blues defenseman Alex Pietrangelo rubs his gold medal in his face: “He’ll be missing more than half a tooth.”
Wild's Week Ahead
Monday: vs. Calgary, 7 p.m. (FSN)
Saturday: at Dallas, 7:30 p.m. (FSN)
Player to watch:
The Flames veteran has scored 223 goals, so he could be on the move at Wednesday’s trade deadline to a team looking for offensive help.
“No. Figured there’s enough here. I’ll grab one of them.”
— Zach Parise when asked if he brought a stray dog home from Sochi like American teammates David Backes and T.J. Oshie.