Blockbuster not on Wild GM Fletcher's radar

  • Article by: MICHAEL RUSSO , Star Tribune
  • Updated: June 18, 2012 - 5:29 AM

Chuck Fletcher moved popular Brent Burns to San Jose a year ago, but now he is reluctant to gut the Wild's youth for a draft-day gamble.

hide

Wild General Manager Chuck Fletcher (left), Wild coach Mike Yeo

Photo: David Joles, Star Tribune file

CameraStar Tribune photo galleries

Cameraview larger

One year ago, Chuck Fletcher awoke on the morning of the NHL draft in St. Paul and knew there was a good likelihood he would trade popular defenseman Brent Burns in front of the eyes of thousands of Wild fans at Xcel Energy Center.

The Wild general manager scheduled a handful of meetings in his office that day with fellow GMs to make final pitches.

Finally, in came San Jose GM Doug Wilson, and Fletcher agreed to send Burns to Silicon Valley for the equivalent of three first-round picks: Devin Setoguchi, the draft pick that became Zack Phillips and blue-chip prospect Charlie Coyle, who was the necessity to make the trade happen.

That would be the first of three trades Fletcher would make with the Sharks last offseason.

"The difference with the draft as opposed to other times in the year is everybody's in the same city, so you can have face-to-face dialogue," Fletcher said. "It's harder to be evasive in face-to-face meetings unless you run for the door."

In three years as Wild GM, Fletcher has made 21 trades involving 14 teams. Five have come during the draft, with three others in the days leading up to or soon after the draft.

That's 38 percent of Fletcher's trades that have come around the draft. With this year's draft Friday and Saturday in Pittsburgh, it's officially the season of "Trader Chuck."

On Friday alone, Fletcher said he talked to a dozen GMs. Some big names are being bandied about, with Columbus captain Rick Nash atop the list. The New York Rangers, San Jose, Toronto, Philadelphia, Ottawa and Carolina are reportedly in pursuit.

Other headliners potentially on the move at forward this offseason could include Pittsburgh's Jordan Staal, Anaheim's Bobby Ryan or Ryan Getzlaf, Philadelphia's James van Riemsdyk, Calgary's Jarome Iginla and San Jose's Patrick Marleau. On defense, there's Nashville's Shea Weber, Calgary's Jay Bouwmeester and Winnipeg's Tobias Enstrom. In goal, there's Vancouver's Roberto Luongo.

Fletcher has histories with Staal, Ryan and Getzlaf in his previous managerial roles with the Penguins and Ducks. And while there's no doubt Fletcher would involve himself in any trade conversation for a star, it's hard to imagine him being able to execute another trade at this draft in the same magnitude as Burns.

• • •

There's three reasons for that: 1) The Wild plans to aggressively pursue Zach Parise if the New Jersey Devils captain becomes a free agent July 1, so Fletcher could be in a holding pattern until then; 2) The Wild doesn't have bait in the same realm as Burns on the current roster; 3) Fletcher says he won't blow a hole through the Wild's prospect corps.

So gazing at the Wild roster, the mechanisms of making a big trade are a lot harder without gutting the team or taking a gamble as to which prospects to give up.

In other words, the Wild has gathered kids such as Coyle, Phillips, Mikael Granlund, Jonas Brodin, Brett Bulmer, Johan Larsson, Jason Zucker and Mario Lucia. What if Fletcher trades a Bulmer or a Zucker and they wound up being the best of all of them?

"In a year or two, when we see the development of our kids, we should be in a lot better position to maybe make bigger trades," Fletcher said. "How do you trade some of these young players when you don't know what they're fully going to be?"

• • •

Of the established NHLers, Setoguchi could be bait, but it will be hard to get maximum value for a 25-year-old goal scorer coming off a 19-goal season. Defenseman Marco Scandella would provide great value, but how good can he become heading into his third year as a pro? Heavy hitter Cal Clutterbuck tailed off for a third second half in a row, but his upside is still bright.

Veteran Matt Cullen might be tradeable, but he's 35, makes $3.5 million and has a limited no-trade clause.

"If something makes sense, if somebody presents something to you that you haven't thought of, you look at it, but we're not shopping our players all around the league here in a panic," Fletcher said despite four consecutive missed postseasons -- three under his regime. "We're certainly looking for ways to get better, but I just feel this summer patience is going to be more of a virtue than last summer.

"Last summer I really felt we needed to do a few things to free up some room going forward and to get some different types of things in here. And we did that and I think in the long run it's going to work well."

That's not to say Fletcher won't be tinkering.

He acquired Kyle Brodziak at his first draft in 2009 by moving two draft picks to Edmonton. In that deal, he also acquired a pick that became goalie Darcy Kuemper.

In 2010 and 2011, he traded draft picks to move up to select Zucker and Lucia, respectively, in the second round. In 2009, he moved down four slots to No. 16, selected Nick Leddy and picked up two draft picks that were turned into Matt Hackett and Erik Haula.

• • •

Fletcher would be willing to move up or down from No. 7 this year. Trading the pick outright for an NHL player seems doubtful.

"I haven't seen anything that makes any sense yet," Fletcher said. "So many teams are in the same boat, it's scary. You go team by team, everybody says the same thing: 'We need more depth, we're thin here, we have a hole there.' No one's even close to being perfect anymore. Everybody's complaining what they don't have. Nobody wants to give up the good things they do have. It's really hard to get real assets without paying a huge, huge price."

So Fletcher says this might be the draft week the Wild should stand pat, wait a week and "try to sign a free agent or two."

"If we're not able to, then we still have the cap space where maybe some team gets into cap trouble a month or two down the road [under a new collective bargaining agreement]," Fletcher said. "We're going to get a good player at No. 7 and we have six or seven young guys turning pro. People sometimes don't like to hear that, but I really don't think we're that far away and I think a little patience will shed the light on where we're at in a very short order.

"I don't think it'll take forever to see how these kids are going to play at the pro level. I just don't want to do something silly here and blow up some of the depth we've finally been able to accumulate until we fully know what we have."

  • NHL DRAFT • Consol Energy Center, Pittsburgh • First round, 6 p.m. Friday • TV: NBC Sports Network Wild's first-round pick: No. 7 overall

  • get related content delivered to your inbox

  • manage my email subscriptions

ADVERTISEMENT

San Francisco - WP: M. Bumgarner 8 FINAL
Pittsburgh - LP: E. Volquez 0
Minnesota 10/2/14 7:25 PM
Green Bay
Buffalo 10/5/14 12:00 PM
Detroit
Chicago 10/5/14 12:00 PM
Carolina
Cleveland 10/5/14 12:00 PM
Tennessee
St. Louis 10/5/14 12:00 PM
Philadelphia
Atlanta 10/5/14 12:00 PM
NY Giants
Tampa Bay 10/5/14 12:00 PM
New Orleans
Houston 10/5/14 12:00 PM
Dallas
Baltimore 10/5/14 12:00 PM
Indianapolis
Pittsburgh 10/5/14 12:00 PM
Jacksonville
Arizona 10/5/14 3:05 PM
Denver
Kansas City 10/5/14 3:25 PM
San Francisco
NY Jets 10/5/14 3:25 PM
San Diego
Cincinnati 10/5/14 7:30 PM
New England
Seattle 10/6/14 7:30 PM
Washington
Washington 1 FINAL
Buffalo 6
Carolina 3 FINAL
Columbus 6
Pittsburgh 2 FINAL
Detroit 0
Montreal 3 FINAL
Chicago 1
Arizona 2 FINAL
Edmonton 3
Fla Atlantic 10/2/14 6:00 PM
FIU
UCF 10/2/14 6:00 PM
Houston
Arizona 10/2/14 9:30 PM
(2) Oregon
Louisville 10/3/14 6:00 PM
Syracuse
San Diego St 10/3/14 9:00 PM
Fresno State
Utah State 10/3/14 9:15 PM
(18) BYU
(6) Texas A&M 10/4/14 11:00 AM
(12) Miss State
Ball State 10/4/14 11:00 AM
Army
Iowa State 10/4/14 11:00 AM
(21) Oklahoma State
Marshall 10/4/14 11:00 AM
Old Dominion
Southern Miss 10/4/14 11:00 AM
Middle Tennessee
(20) Ohio State 10/4/14 11:00 AM
Maryland
Purdue 10/4/14 11:00 AM
Illinois
Florida 10/4/14 11:00 AM
Tennessee
SMU 10/4/14 11:00 AM
(22) East Carolina
Virginia Tech 10/4/14 11:30 AM
North Carolina
Eastern Mich 10/4/14 1:00 PM
Akron
North Texas 10/4/14 1:30 PM
Indiana
Massachusetts 10/4/14 1:30 PM
Miami-Ohio
Tulsa 10/4/14 2:00 PM
Colorado State
New Mexico 10/4/14 2:30 PM
TX-San Antonio
(3) Alabama 10/4/14 2:30 PM
(11) Ole Miss
(14) Stanford 10/4/14 2:30 PM
(9) Notre Dame
(17) Wisconsin 10/4/14 2:30 PM
Northwestern
Navy 10/4/14 2:30 PM
Air Force
(7) Baylor 10/4/14 2:30 PM
Texas
(4) Oklahoma 10/4/14 2:30 PM
(25) TCU
Wake Forest 10/4/14 2:30 PM
(1) Florida State
NC State 10/4/14 2:30 PM
Clemson
Buffalo 10/4/14 2:30 PM
Bowling Green
Ohio U 10/4/14 2:30 PM
Central Mich
Oregon State 10/4/14 3:00 PM
Colorado
Vanderbilt 10/4/14 3:00 PM
(13) Georgia
Kansas 10/4/14 3:00 PM
West Virginia
Kent State 10/4/14 4:00 PM
Northern Ill
South Alabama 10/4/14 5:00 PM
Appalachian St
Texas-El Paso 10/4/14 6:00 PM
Louisiana Tech
(15) LSU 10/4/14 6:00 PM
(5) Auburn
UAB 10/4/14 6:00 PM
Western Ky
Texas Tech 10/4/14 6:00 PM
(23) Kansas State
Michigan 10/4/14 6:00 PM
Rutgers
Hawaii 10/4/14 6:00 PM
Rice
Toledo 10/4/14 6:00 PM
Western Mich
ULM 10/4/14 6:00 PM
Arkansas State
Georgia State 10/4/14 6:00 PM
Louisiana
Idaho 10/4/14 6:00 PM
Texas State
Memphis 10/4/14 6:00 PM
Cincinnati
Arizona State 10/4/14 6:30 PM
(16) USC
So Carolina 10/4/14 6:30 PM
Kentucky
Pittsburgh 10/4/14 6:30 PM
Virginia
Miami-Florida 10/4/14 6:30 PM
Georgia Tech
(19) Nebraska 10/4/14 7:00 PM
(10) Michigan State
UNLV 10/4/14 7:00 PM
San Jose St
Ga Southern 10/4/14 7:00 PM
New Mexico St
California 10/4/14 9:30 PM
Washington St
Utah 10/4/14 9:30 PM
(8) UCLA
Boise State 10/4/14 9:30 PM
Nevada
Winnipeg 10/3/14 6:00 PM
Ottawa
Calgary 10/3/14 9:00 PM
Saskatchewan
Edmonton 10/4/14 3:00 PM
Toronto
Brt Columbia 10/4/14 6:00 PM
Hamilton
Hamilton 10/10/14 6:00 PM
Toronto
Ottawa 10/11/14 9:00 PM
Brt Columbia
Connect with twitterConnect with facebookConnect with Google+Connect with PinterestConnect with PinterestConnect with RssfeedConnect with email newsletters

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

question of the day

Poll: Which local pro team are you most excited about?

Weekly Question

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

 
Close