Keep an eye on Nash, Ryan and Jordan Staal

  • Article by: MICHAEL RUSSO , Star Tribune
  • Updated: June 22, 2012 - 1:27 AM
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Penguins center Jordan Staal shot on Lightning goalie Dwayne Roloson.

Photo: Chris O'Meara, Associated Press

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PITTSBURGH - The NHL draft often presents the possibility of the oh-so popular blockbuster. This year is no different.

The Columbus Blue Jackets are attempting to trade disgruntled captain Rick Nash, the Anaheim Ducks are shopping young goal scorer Bobby Ryan, and Pittsburgh Penguins center Jordan Staal has rejected a 10-year contract extension, meaning he could be dealt.

While the Wild is not involved in trade talks for Nash, General Manager Chuck Fletcher probably has interest in both Ryan and Staal.

Ryan, 25, is a four-time 30-goal scorer taken one spot after Sidney Crosby in the 2005 draft. Former Ducks GM Brian Burke once said, "When he was on our staff in Anaheim, Chuck Fletcher is the guy that pushed hardest for Bobby Ryan, not me."

Staal apparently doesn't want to spend his entire career trapped behind centers Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin. Wild coach Mike Yeo has a lot of admiration for Staal from his days as Pittsburgh's assistant, while Fletcher is also a former Penguins assistant GM.

Because Staal can become a free agent next summer, the only way the Wild would be willing to trade for the 23-year-old is if it knew he would be willing to sign an extension. He is not willing to do that, according to a source close to the situation -- with the possible exception of being traded to Carolina, where his brother, Eric, is team captain.

A potential match for Ryan could be Philadelphia, which is shopping James van Riemsdyk. Ryan grew up around Philadelphia and is very close to Flyers executive Bobby Clarke, a Flyers hero in the 1970s.

Blue Jackets GM Scott Howson is sticking to his guns and demanding four top assets for Nash, but many of the teams interested in Nash are interested in Ryan, who is younger and cheaper. The Rangers, Philadelphia, Ottawa, San Jose, Carolina and Toronto are hot after Nash, who must approve any trade.

Howson said Thursday he was no closer to trading Nash than he was at the trade deadline.

Schedule released

The Wild's 2012-13 schedule was announced Thursday. It opens at home Oct. 13 against Colorado, plays every team in the Eastern Conference -- including two games against Pittsburgh, Philadelphia and the Islanders -- and plays host to Edmonton on New Year's Eve.

The most treacherous part comes Nov. 3-Dec. 12 when the Wild plays 15 of 19 on the road, including two six-game road trips. That is followed by a seven-game homestand.

Of course, an NHL lockout might change everything.

Etc.

• Wild assistant to the GM Jim Mill met with the agents of potential unrestricted free agents Matt Kassian and Stephane Veilleux. The Wild would prefer to sign both to two-way deals, meaning they would make significantly lower salaries if sent to the minors. But both are pushing for one-way contracts.

• Wild winger Pierre-Marc Bouchard, who missed the final three-plus months because of a concussion, has started to train and fully anticipates being ready for the start of next season.

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