Top two Wild picks have reunion, but no gloves are dropped

  • Article by: MICHAEL RUSSO , Star Tribune
  • Updated: June 24, 2012 - 11:35 AM

Matt Dumba and Raphael Bussieres mixed it up last January as opponents, but they might be teammates soon.

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Matthew Dumba, center, a defenseman, smiles with officials from the Minnesota Wild after being chosen seventh overall in the first round of the NHL hockey draft on Friday, June 22, 2012, in Pittsburgh.

Photo: Keith Srakocic, Associated Press

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PITTSBURGH - Matt Dumba, taken seventh overall by the Wild on Friday, was sitting at the Wild's draft table Saturday so he could greet the team's second-round pick after the selection.

It turned out to be Raphael Bussieres, a power forward from Baie-Comeau.

"One of the scouts goes, 'Oh Matty, you know this guy. You fought him in the prospect game,' " Dumba said, laughing. "It was funny. Everyone had a good chuckle. [Coach Mike Yeo] liked it."

In January at the prospects game in Kelowna, British Columbia, the heavy-hitting Dumba stepped into Radek Faksa as he crossed the blue line. Bussieres, who plays with an edge, immediately stood up for Faksa and fought Dumba.

"I hit him with a good one right off the start," Dumba said. "I was just hoping the big man was down for the fight. I was just going to walk away, but he got back up. He's a big boy. He's really strong, and he kind of took it from there.

"It was a good, spirited fight. I like that he's a competitor.

Bussieres said meeting Dumba immediately at the table was a "little bit awkward. I have nothing against Dumba. The game is intense. He hit one of the players I played with. I'm a physical player, so sometimes I have to fight."

Wild General Manager Chuck Fletcher cracked, "They probably got into it because they're both wired the same way."

Room for one more?

By trading Jordan Staal and Zbynek Michalek, the Pittsburgh Penguins are clearing salary-cap space for something.

If it's for presumptive free agents Zach Parise and Ryan Suter, as the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review reported Sunday, that could dramatically tilt the playing field and hurt the Wild, which plans to pursue both July 1.

The Tribune-Review reported that the Penguins also are aggressively shopping defenseman Paul Martin to create more space. The newspaper also reported that Sidney Crosby will help with the recruiting. Crosby is friends with Parise and sat with Parise's family at the Stanley Cup final.

The Penguins, like the Wild, are interested in trading for Suter's rights, while the Devils aren't expected to trade Parise's rights.

The Wild inquired with Penguins GM Ray Shero about Staal before he was traded to Carolina in the middle of his wedding Friday night.

Fletcher and Shero met in the afternoon, but the price was high and it's abundantly clear that Staal is only willing to sign an extension with Carolina, the team his brother, Eric, captains.

A three, and a four

In the fourth round, the Wild selected 6-2 center Adam Gilmour, who played a year at Thayer Academy with Wild prospect Charlie Coyle.

Gilmour, a junior, is leaving his prep school, Nobles, early to play in Muskegon of the USHL next year before heading to Boston College in 2013. Wild scout Chris Hamel and Gilmour grew close, and Hamel helped Gilmour with his decision, the youngster said.

"I'm a big guy, really skilled," said Gilmour, a huge Bruins fan who models his game after Selke Trophy winner Patrice Bergeron. "I pride myself on my vision and playmaking. I'm good in the corners with my reach and puck protection."

The Wild also picked up Edina-born, Faribault-raised defenseman John Draeger in the third round. Draeger, who will go to Michigan State, said, being chosen by the hometown Wild was "indescribable."

Etc.

• After checking with NHL Central Registry, the Wild has been informed that even though it won't tender Guillaume Latendresse his $2.5 million qualifying offer Monday, Latendresse will remain on the Wild's reserve list and the Wild still would have exclusive negotiating rights with him until June 30.

The Wild is trying to sign Latendresse, who played only 16 games last season because of a concussion, to a one-year deal with bonuses before he can become an unrestricted free agent July 1.

"If we get it done, we get it done," said Fletcher, who said he has met with Latendresse's agent "10 times."

• Fletcher confirmed Nick Johnson won't be tendered a qualifying offer and will become a free agent. With so many prospects turning pro, a need to sign free agents and a limit of 50 contracts, Fletcher needs the opening.

• The Wild re-signed Stephane Veilleux to a one-year, two-way deal, a source said.

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