Wild hosts the very desperate, very big St. Louis Blues tonight at 7 as it looks to improve to 14-3-1 at home before hitting the road for three. Torrey Mitchell, who missed Saturday's win over Los Angeles with the flu, is back in the lineup. Nate Prosser, called on to play forward the other night, is scratched.
Brett Clark remains in the lineup and Justin Falk sits again.
Clayton Stoner's had a couple rough games in a row, but coach Mike Yeo felt Stoner responded well after his mistake the other night led to Justin Williams' breakaway goal. Also, the Blues are a heavy, physical team. Stoner's not getting pulled against a team like them, and the Wild feels he has had a quality season, especially alongside Jared Spurgeon.
Niklas Backstrom vs. Jaroslav Halak.
The trade deadline is two days away at 2 p.m. CT and rumors are running rampant around the NHL.
There's a difference between rumors and actual stuff that's going on, and I can tell you from digging around the last few days, there's definite steam to what ESPN's Pierre LeBrun and TSN's Bob McKenzie reported this morning -- that the Wild is one of a number of teams involved in the Ryane Clowe trade talk with San Jose.
Now, GM Chuck Fletcher talks to every GM in the league about all sorts of players. We also know that Fletcher and Sharks GM Doug Wilson have each other's number in the *VIP section of their iPhones -- so to speak. Two summers ago, Fletcher and Wilson executed three different trades. I also know the Wild's had interest in Clowe before.
But the difference here is it sounds like the Wild has talked to Clowe's agent Kent Hughes. For that to have happened, the Wild would have had to have been given permission from San Jose. The reason?
For Clowe to waive his no-trade clause, he is looking to sign an extension with his new team.
The questions are: 1) What's the price to get Clowe and is the Wild willing to part with that? The Wild has said it is not looking to trade any of its blue-chip prospects, BUT, if it's not a rental pickup, if he's to be part of the core in the future, that changes things. The Sharks are looking to get younger and faster and the Wild is loaded with lots of prospects now; 2) How much are you willing to pay Clowe if you extend him. I've heard he's looking for a five-year deal in the $25 million neighborhood. That seems hefty; 3) What does acquiring Clowe do to your chemistry and where does he fit?
I just talked to Fletcher, and while he wouldn't comment on Clowe and "I've talked to five managers today and I talk to lots of teams," he said with 12 games left, he is very cognizant that the Wild has a good thing going. "Chemistry is a funny thing, so you've got to be mindful of the fact that the new player you're bringing in doesn't have a lot of time to get going."
Fletcher is always looking to upgrade, "but we're not going to force anything. We certainly like this team. We haven't lost a lot of games lately, and to me, this team has earned the right to continue going forward."
On Clowe, he is very good friends with Dany Heatley, Devin Setoguchi and Torrey Mitchell. They've all told me for a long time that he's a great teammate, will do anything for you, will fight for you. I'm sure you've seen me quote Clowe many times about those guys over the last few years. Phenomenal quote and seems like a good dude.
Clowe, 30, can obviously play. Just a big power forward that brings muscle and intensity, and I do think the Wild wouldn't mind getting bigger in order to compete in the hard-nosed playoffs. Clowe is a horse, built for the playoffs and was very effective against the Blues in last year's postseason, Ken Hitchcock told me this morning.
But Clowe hasn't scored in 28 games this year (11 assists).
“I don’t know what’s going on — it’s pretty crazy actually,” Clowe was quoted as saying in the Vancouver Province a few days ago. “If I went back and played that many games and tried not to score, I think I’d still score. It’s just one of those things, but the last three games are probably the best three I’ve had all year.”
So the question is, if you trade for Clowe, what are you getting?
He's been banged up. He was in the press box here 2 weekends ago when the Sharks were in town because of a shoulder injury, yet he was visibly limping, too. He was never the fleetest of foot even when he scored 43 goals over two seasons (2009-10, 2010-11).
Also, where would he fit? The Wild's third line is a combined minus-30 now, so it wouldn't be shocking if the Wild was trying to upgrade that. Do you put him on the second line? That to me is a risk because that line's success has been predicated on speed.
So right now, not knowing what the Wild would be willing to give up, I just don't see a clear-as-day fit. A couple guys I talked to in the room today could see him going to Montreal.
McKenzie tweeted Vancouver, Philly and the Rangers are also in the mix. I hear Boston, too.
We will see. Fletcher did say he doesn't anticipate making any moves today, but we shall see. More later if anything develops.
The Wild plays in San Jose on Wednesday. It is almost guaranteed Clowe will not be in the Sharks' lineup that night. The question now is whether he'll be in the Wild's.
Regardless, what this does show you: As much as the Wild says it's happy with the team and not looking to shake things up, calls are always being made and upgrades are always being sought. If the Wild's talking to San Jose about Clowe, you know they're talking to other teams about other players.
I'll be on Fox Sports North tonight and KFAN in the morning tomorrow starting at 9:55 a.m., I believe.