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.


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.

Photo: David Joles, Star Tribune

CameraStar Tribune photo galleries

Cameraview larger

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."


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

  • get related content delivered to your inbox

  • manage my email subscriptions


Tennessee 7:25 PM
Philadelphia 12/20/14 3:30 PM
San Diego 12/20/14 7:25 PM
San Francisco
Minnesota 12/21/14 12:00 PM
Baltimore 12/21/14 12:00 PM
Detroit 12/21/14 12:00 PM
Cleveland 12/21/14 12:00 PM
Atlanta 12/21/14 12:00 PM
New Orleans
Green Bay 12/21/14 12:00 PM
Tampa Bay
Kansas City 12/21/14 12:00 PM
New England 12/21/14 12:00 PM
NY Jets
NY Giants 12/21/14 3:05 PM
St. Louis
Buffalo 12/21/14 3:25 PM
Indianapolis 12/21/14 3:25 PM
Seattle 12/21/14 7:30 PM
Denver 12/22/14 7:30 PM
Atlanta 127 FINAL
Cleveland 98
Phoenix 111 FINAL
Charlotte 106
Dallas 117 FINAL
Detroit 106
Utah 105 FINAL
Miami 87
Orlando 92 FINAL
Boston 109
Brooklyn 89 FINAL
Toronto 105
Memphis 117 FINAL
San Antonio 116
Milwaukee 97 FINAL
Portland 104
Houston 115 FINAL
Denver 111
Indiana 100 FINAL
LA Clippers 102
Ottawa 2 FINAL
New Jersey 0
Boston 3 FINAL(OT)
Minnesota 2
Dallas 2 FINAL
Vancouver 0
Langston 65 FINAL
North Texas 78
Delaware State 72 FINAL
St Francis-NY 64
James Madison 72 FINAL
Ball State 52
SIU Edwardsville 65 FINAL
Campbell 70
St Francis-PA 67 FINAL
Duquesne 52
North Florida 77 FINAL
Florida State 93
Catawba 69 FINAL
George Mason 99
Ferrum 48 FINAL
High Point 106
Hampton 55 FINAL
Illinois 73
Gardner-Webb 65 FINAL
Jacksonville 68
Longwood 60 FINAL
Miami-Ohio 71
Arkansas State 69 FINAL
Miss State 55
Tennessee 72 FINAL
NC State 83
Ohio State 97
Manhattan 56 FINAL
Pittsburgh 65
Robert Morris 57 FINAL
Toledo 83
Char Southern 58 FINAL
Wofford 64
Kennesaw St 90 FINAL
Youngstown St 84
Barber-Scotia 52 FINAL
NC Central 108
Detroit 70 FINAL
UCF 75
Liberty 70 FINAL
UNC-Wilmington 73
Denver 83
Ark-Pine Bluff 61 FINAL
Houston 56
UT Martin 54 FINAL
Illinois State 64
Milligan 76 FINAL
Louisiana 115
Abilene Christian 44 FINAL
Loyola-Chicago 83
USC Upstate 73 FINAL
Memphis 83
Alcorn State 56 FINAL
Murray State 94
Central Mich 80 FINAL
Northwestern 67
Georgia State 54 FINAL
Old Dominion 58
TX-Pan American 69 FINAL
Saint Louis 75
Ill-Chicago 46 FINAL
SMU 67
Texas State 60 FINAL
Stephen F Austin 66
SC State 39 FINAL
Texas Tech 101
Missouri State 70 FINAL
Tulsa 74
Chicago State 60 FINAL
Western Ky 75
Morehead State 50 FINAL
Green Bay 66
Northern Colorado 82 FINAL
Nebraska Omaha 92
Winthrop 62 FINAL
Auburn 80
New Mexico St 55 FINAL
Baylor 66
San Diego St 62 FINAL
Cincinnati 71
Eastern Mich 46 FINAL
Michigan State 66
Loyola Marymount 58 FINAL
Stanford 67
Incarnate Word 82 FINAL
Grand Canyon 80
Northeastern 58 FINAL
Cal Poly 60
Central Arkansas 55 FINAL
New Mexico 76
Howard 45 FINAL
Pepperdine 53
Portland 73 FINAL
CS-Northridge 56 FINAL
Oregon 79
Grambling St 38 FINAL
Washington 86
Nevada 12/20/14 10:00 AM
Utah State 12/20/14 1:20 PM
Texas-El Paso
(23) Utah 12/20/14 2:30 PM
Colorado State
Western Mich 12/20/14 4:45 PM
Air Force
South Alabama 12/20/14 8:15 PM
Bowling Green
BYU 12/22/14 1:00 PM
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
Western Carolina 79 FINAL
UNC-Asheville 66
(21) Miss State 66 FINAL
Louisiana 51
(25) DePaul 109 FINAL
Loyola-Chicago 84
Liberty 64 FINAL
NC State 67
Elon 77 FINAL
Campbell 51
Akron 73 FINAL
UCF 64
Richmond 77 FINAL
UNC-Wilmington 67
Montana 70 FINAL
Seattle 64
(7) Stanford 46 FINAL
Chattanooga 54
Florida A&M 69 FINAL
Southern U 80
Oklahoma 72 FINAL
(13) Duke 92
Savannah State 56 FINAL
Auburn 62
Northern Colorado 43 FINAL
South Florida 84
Youngstown St 73 FINAL
Robert Morris 65
Siena 75 FINAL
Sacred Heart 65
Vermont 63 FINAL
St Francis-NY 61
(1) South Carolina 69 FINAL
Hampton 49
Fla Gulf Coast 91 FINAL
Bethune-Cookman 46
Texas Southern 92 FINAL
Houston Baptist 80
Northwestern 88 FINAL
Appalachian St 72
NC Central 52 FINAL
Coastal Carolina 67
Drexel 50 FINAL
Quinnipiac 74
Cincinnati 52 FINAL
Northern Ky 66
Alabama State 53 FINAL
Georgia Tech 77
Morehead St 69 FINAL
USC Upstate 75
Arkansas State 59 FINAL
Kent State 44
American Univ 60 FINAL
Manhattan 52
UNC Greensboro 60 FINAL
St Bonaventure 78
Arkansas-Monticello 56 FINAL
Northwestern St 61
Prairie View 70 FINAL
Sam Houston St 51
McNeese State 59 FINAL
(3) Texas 76
Yale 90 FINAL
Wagner 65
Oakland 61 FINAL
TX A&M-CC 54
Eastern Kentucky 62 FINAL
Alabama A&M 56
SIU-Edwardsville 47 FINAL
Northern Ill 69
McMurry 25 FINAL
TX-Arlington 82
Portland 65 FINAL
Eastern Washington 72
North Texas 42 FINAL
San Francisco 60
Connect with twitterConnect with facebookConnect with Google+Connect with PinterestConnect with PinterestConnect with RssfeedConnect with email newsletters





question of the day

Poll: Who is your favorite pro sports coach in the Twin Cities?

Weekly Question