Wheeling, dealing a big part of draft week

  • Article by: MICHAEL RUSSO , Star Tribune
  • Updated: June 20, 2011 - 1:20 AM

The NHL draft is an opportunity for teams to ship players elsewhere, and the Wild figures to be an active participant on the trade market.

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The Wild has a big decision to make on defenseman Brent Burns, who is entering the final year of his contract but could be a valuable trade asset.

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Hockey diehards will be drooling all over Xcel Energy Center this weekend.

It starts with the fact that every NHL "Who's Who" will be on one draft floor at the same time. If you attend the entry draft this weekend in St. Paul, you'll see (to name an absolute few) everybody from Steve Yzerman, Scotty Bowman and Luc Robitaille to Mark Messier, Ron Francis and Cam Neely.

If you're lucky, you may see Hall of Famer-turned-agent Bobby Orr or former players-turned-league execs Brendan Shanahan and Rob Blake scooting by you in the stands.

You'll have the privilege of witnessing tomorrow's stars as baby-faced, pimply, clammy-hand 17- and 18-year-olds.

But perhaps the most exciting part of the draft is when Commissioner Gary Bettman steps to the mike and utters those magical words: "We have a trade to announce."

Yes, there are times the trades don't live up to the hype, but often times big, big names move at the draft, like in recent years, Chris Pronger, Roberto Luongo, Olli Jokinen, Alex Tanguay, and in 2006 to the Wild, Pavol Demitra.

Other than the trade deadline, draft week -- and often draft day as teams wait until the last possible second to drive up prices -- is the second-most active trading time in the NHL.

That's because between the draft combine, the general managers' meetings and the draft all happening three weeks apart, GMs have had three recent opportunities to speak face-to-face. In addition, teams often are trying to dump salary before free agency or begin reshaping their rosters.

Burns in play?

One team that's at least trying to be active is the Wild. GM Chuck Fletcher said that other than trading captain Mikko Koivu, he is willing to do "absolutely anything" to improve.

With the draft in Minnesota, many fans wonder if Fletcher will be looking to make a "splash." That has led to speculation that Brent Burns could be trade bait, partly because the All-Star defenseman might be what it takes to land an impact forward and partly because he's a year from unrestricted free agency.

Fletcher won't comment, other than to say how much he values Burns, thinks he's one of the "top young defensemen in the game" and has had "preliminary" contract talks with Burns' agent.

"Whether we make anything happen on the trade front, whether we add players or move up or down in the first round, you never know," Fletcher said. "But I can guarantee you, whatever we do or don't do, there will be an awful lot of conversations about an awful lot of things that may or may not make sense to us or the team we're speaking with.

"Ninety percent of things discussed around the draft don't happen, but there will be a lot of activity and we'll be busy. What that means at end of day, we'll find out."

Burns can't have his contract extended until after July 1 and could cost upward of $5 million annually, so Fletcher might need to make a long-term decision in advance. The common sentiment in league circles is that Burns is indeed in play.

But some NHL execs are skeptical Fletcher would risk trading Burns in front of the home fans unless it's a grand slam. Before the draft, after the draft? Maybe.

But draft day itself?

In 2001, when Florida held the draft, Fletcher was assistant GM. The Panthers, looking to make a splash, acquired Florida superstar Pavel Bure's brother, Valeri, from Calgary for much-maligned Rob Niedermayer. For a franchise that hasn't made the playoffs since 2000, it's safe to say there hasn't been a louder cheer in BankAtlantic Center since.

"Robbie's a good friend, and that reaction didn't make me happy," Fletcher said.

Imagine if the opposite were to happen. Burns is a fan favorite, so nobody's sure how a sold-out X would react live on Versus and TSN if Burns were traded.

If Burns isn't traded, it'll be hard for Fletcher to execute a so-called "splash."

Unless it is a "special scenario," Fletcher won't trade the No. 10 overall pick outright. Time will tell, but the Wild looks as if it homered with its first- and second-round selections (Mikael Granlund, Brett Bulmer, Johan Larsson and Jason Zucker) last June. So, for a team looking to fully vest into a draft-and-development model by adding young talent rather than deleting it, Fletcher would have to feel a trade was a "no-brainer" to move one of those draft picks.

That leaves the NHL roster. Fletcher has said there are no untouchables other than Koivu. But Niklas Backstrom, Martin Havlat, Marek Zidlicky and Matt Cullen have no-trade clauses, and expensive, likely hard-to-move contracts anyway.

Other Wild scenarios

Three players who may intrigue other teams are Pierre-Marc Bouchard, Nick Schultz and Greg Zanon. But Bouchard and Schultz are expensive and have two and three years left on their deals, respectively. Plus, the Wild wonders what a healthy Bouchard could do on the right side of Koivu next season.

You can bet the two Wild players most sought after are hard-hitting Cal Clutterbuck and Houston defenseman Marco Scandella. Clutterbuck is 23, has led the NHL in hits his first three seasons and scored 19 goals last season. So you can also bet Fletcher would prefer to build with Clutterbuck. And while most players in Houston likely can be had, Scandella might be the one who is not.

The Wild is actively trying to trade defenseman Cam Barker. If it can't, the Wild might consider buying Barker out of the final year of his $3.08 million contract by June 30. That would cost a little more than $1 million but trim his cap hit to $375,000 next season and $541,667 in 2012-13.

The Wild also is willing to move up, or more likely, down in the first round if it means gaining another first-round pick or a second-rounder. Currently, the Wild doesn't have a second, which was dealt to Boston in the 2009 Chuck Kobasew trade. Also, with so much depth at goaltending with Matt Hackett, Darcy Kuemper, Dennis Endras and Johan Gustafsson, Fletcher might dangle one.

So Fletcher has a lot to weigh. The Wild has missed the playoffs for three years in a row, so, "I'm open-minded to anything. We have to get better."

"The priority," Fletcher said, "is to get more young talent to compete with some of these organizations that have top young talent. We think we've made inroads. We think we're on our way. But we recognize we have further to go. We're not there. We had a good draft last year, and we think we'll get a good player at No. 10 this year.

"After that, I honestly can't tell you what will happen between now and July 1 other than we're looking aggressively to get better."

  • NHL DRAFT

    Friday-Saturday • Xcel Energy Center • TV: VS. and NHL Network • Wild in first round: Pick No. 10

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Minnesota 17 4th Qtr 14:57
Miami 21
Baltimore 7 3rd Qtr 9:15
Houston 16
Detroit 10 4th Qtr 11:09
Chicago 14
Cleveland 6 4th Qtr 12:45
Carolina 10
Atlanta 20 4th Qtr 14:30
New Orleans 7
Green Bay 13 4th Qtr 5:45
Tampa Bay 3
Kansas City 6 4th Qtr 12:00
Pittsburgh 17
New England 17 4th Qtr 9:37
NY Jets 13
NY Giants 3:05 PM
St. Louis
Buffalo 3:25 PM
Oakland
Indianapolis 3:25 PM
Dallas
Seattle 7:30 PM
Arizona
Denver 12/22/14 7:30 PM
Cincinnati
New York 2:30 PM
Toronto
Memphis 3:30 PM
Cleveland
Boston 5:00 PM
Miami
Detroit 5:00 PM
Brooklyn
LA Lakers 5:00 PM
Sacramento
Philadelphia 5:00 PM
Orlando
Phoenix 5:00 PM
Washington
Indiana 6:00 PM
Minnesota
New Orleans 6:00 PM
Oklahoma City
Colorado 5:00 PM
Detroit
Dallas 5:00 PM
Edmonton
Buffalo 6:00 PM
Boston
Carolina 6:00 PM
NY Rangers
Toronto 6:00 PM
Chicago
Philadelphia 8:00 PM
Winnipeg
Harvard 27 FINAL
Virginia 76
Maine 69 1st OT 0:04
Army 70
Ferris State 82 FINAL
Bowling Green 68
San Francisco 65 FINAL
Cleveland State 69
Oregon State 52 FINAL
Quinnipiac 60
Coastal Carolina 72 FINAL
Central Arkansas 55
Holy Cross 32 2nd Half 9:42
Canisius 46
Southern Miss 35 2nd Half 9:28
Georgia State 54
Western Carolina 39 2nd Half 12:29
UNC-Asheville 54
Creighton 29 2nd Half 12:36
North Texas 51
Maryland 51 2nd Half 11:49
Oklahoma State 37
Cornell 41 2nd Half 13:34
Radford 50
Vermont 36 2nd Half 9:40
Saint Louis 38
Loyola-Maryland 39 2nd Half 10:23
Stony Brook 44
Reinhardt 48 2nd Half 13:16
Winthrop 62
Ark-Little Rock 43 2nd Half 7:47
Green Bay 53
TX-Pan American 44 2nd Half 13:40
Nebraska Omaha 53
Alabama State 57 2nd Half 14:55
Evansville 53
FIU 31 2nd Half 20:00
Hartford 42
Goshen 25 2nd Half
Valparaiso 38
Bryant 7 1st Half 10:46
Denver 4
Austin Peay 5 1st Half 10:19
Lipscomb 18
Tennessee St 5 1st Half 12:10
Middle Tennessee 24
South Dakota 15 1st Half 11:43
Montana 14
ULM 2:25 PM
Samford
Coker 2:30 PM
South Carolina
USC 3:00 PM
Boston College
Northern Ariz 3:00 PM
Hampton
SD Christian 3:00 PM
San Diego
UC Irvine 3:30 PM
Bradley
Troy 3:30 PM
Nicholls
Seton Hall 5:00 PM
Georgia
Appalachian St 5:30 PM
Alabama
North Dakota St 6:00 PM
Kent State
San Jose St 6:00 PM
Washington St
Alcorn State 8:00 PM
Texas-El Paso
Sacramento St 9:00 PM
Seattle
Nevada 3 FINAL
Louisiana 16
Utah State 21 FINAL
Texas-El Paso 6
(23) Utah 45 FINAL
Colorado State 10
Western Mich 24 FINAL
Air Force 38
South Alabama 28 FINAL
Bowling Green 33
BYU 12/22/14 1:00 PM
Memphis
Marshall 12/23/14 5:00 PM
Northern Ill
Navy 12/23/14 8:30 PM
San Diego St
Central Mich 12/24/14 11:00 AM
Western Ky
Fresno State 12/24/14 7:00 PM
Rice
Illinois 12/26/14 12:00 PM
Louisiana Tech
Rutgers 12/26/14 3:30 PM
North Carolina
NC State 12/26/14 7:00 PM
UCF
Cincinnati 12/27/14 12:00 PM
Virginia Tech
Duke 12/27/14 1:10 PM
(15) Arizona State
Miami-Florida 12/27/14 3:00 PM
So Carolina
Boston College 12/27/14 3:30 PM
Penn State
(25) Nebraska 12/27/14 7:00 PM
(24) USC
Cal-Irvine 55 FINAL
Denver 63
St Marys-CA 52 FINAL
George Washington 70
TX-San Antonio 49 FINAL
Nicholls 57
Portland State 71 FINAL
Columbia 66
Tenn Tech 62 FINAL
Morgan State 56
SMU 43 FINAL
Auburn 56
Quinnipiac 70 FINAL
Hartford 58
Hofstra 75 FINAL
Boston College 61
Eastern Washington 55 FINAL
Georgia Southern 42
Liberty 44 FINAL
(1) South Carolina 84
Fairleigh Dickinson 74 FINAL
Brown 79
Buffalo 73 FINAL
Long Island 79
Bucknell 74 FINAL
Mount St Marys 49
Stony Brook 70 FINAL
Wagner 76
FIU 83 FINAL
Wofford 75
Duquesne 56 FINAL
Providence 67
Maine 54 FINAL
William & Mary 51
Alabama State 43 FINAL
Samford 56
TX-Pan American 43 FINAL
VA Commonwealth 64
South Dakota St 64 FINAL
Marist 82
Saint Josephs 50 FINAL
(5) Notre Dame 64
Radford 60 FINAL
Virginia Tech 73
(3) Texas 60 2nd Half 4:14
(4) Texas A&M 61
Rhode Island 60 2nd Half 0:10
Bryant 56
South Florida 45 2nd Half 15:51
Penn State 43
Sam Houston St 35 2nd Half 11:35
TCU 55
Evansville 36 2nd Half 12:00
IUPUI 44
(14) Maryland 83 2nd Half 10:38
Coppin State 41
Mercer 48 2nd Half 9:49
Coll of Charleston 56
NC A&T 21 2nd Half 15:34
Chattanooga 40
Princeton 69 2nd Half 10:24
Monmouth 38
Eastern Illinois 58 2nd Half 6:14
Lehigh 62
Rider 49 2nd Half 11:15
Binghamton 41
SC State 38 2nd Half 8:36
Clemson 43
Fairfield 44 2nd Half 10:00
Iowa State 55
Richmond 61 2nd Half 7:34
Eastern Kentucky 40
Cleveland State 63 2nd Half 6:25
Morehead St 63
Kent State 49 2nd Half 10:44
Colgate 37
South Alabama 31 2nd Half 6:09
UAB 66
Saint Peters 28 2nd Half 8:18
Navy 61
Youngstown St 37 2nd Half 7:47
Pittsburgh 58
NJIT 30 2nd Half 14:36
Lafayette 43
Davidson 22 2nd Half 11:59
Charlotte 61
Indiana State 28 1st Half 1:51
St Johns 22
Southern U 16 1st Half 1:22
Florida 38
Wright State 16 2nd Half
Purdue 31
(19) Oklahoma St 9 1st Half 11:34
USC 13
Houston 12 1st Half 8:32
Texas Tech 10
Ark-Little Rock 13 1st Half 11:10
Tulsa 8
Dayton 14 1st Half 9:51
Vanderbilt 14
Northern Ariz 9 1st Half 13:20
New Mexico 6
UNC-Asheville 10 1st Half 12:12
USC Upstate 10
North Dakota 12 1st Half 11:40
South Dakota 17
Western Ill 11 1st Half 14:02
Marquette 8
Elon 10 1st Half 15:00
(6) North Carolina 13
Ball State 7 1st Half 11:38
Western Ky 22
(8) Kentucky 8 1st Half 11:06
(13) Duke 17
New Orleans 6 1st Half 11:29
Alabama 21
Chicago State 11 1st Half 9:54
Milwaukee 16
Bowling Green 18 1st Half 11:48
Bradley 7
Ill-Springfield 2 1st Half 18:28
SE Missouri St 2
Northern Ill 6 1st Half 11:30
Northern Iowa 9
(23) Iowa 13 1st Half 13:52
Drake 14
Central Michigan 2:30 PM
Minnesota
Western Carolina 2:30 PM
North Florida
Wyoming 3:00 PM
Colorado
Portland 3:00 PM
Boise State
Cal Poly 3:00 PM
Colorado State
No Dakota State 3:00 PM
Grand Canyon
Albany 3:00 PM
Cal State Fullerton
Oklahoma 3:00 PM
Arkansas
Idaho State 3:00 PM
Seattle
(18) Michigan State 3:00 PM
(19) Syracuse
Northwestern 3:30 PM
Arizona State
TX-Arlington 3:30 PM
North Texas
Fresno State 4:00 PM
Oregon
St Francis-PA 4:00 PM
Coastal Carolina
UNLV 4:00 PM
CS-Bakersfield
UCLA 4:00 PM
(2) Connecticut
(10) Louisville 4:00 PM
(24) California
Howard 5:00 PM
Virginia
Miami-Ohio 6:00 PM
(21) Miss State
Illinois-Chicago 8:30 PM
Old Dominion
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