Wild made moves early, so could be quiet before trade deadline

  • Article by: MICHAEL RUSSO , Star Tribune
  • Updated: March 20, 2013 - 5:55 AM

Niklas Backstrom and Matt Cullen are not going to be traded, Wild GM says.

hide

Veteran Niklaus Backstrom is in the last year of his contract, but the Wild have no plans to deal him as the trade deadline nears.

Photo: Photos by JONATHAN HAYWARD Associated Press ,

CameraStar Tribune photo galleries

Cameraview larger

– If you’re a Wild fan dying to know what the Wild’s going to do before the April 3 trade deadline, here’s the answer to two of your questions:

Will Niklas Backstrom or Matt Cullen be traded? “Oh God, no,” said General Manager Chuck Fletcher. “Backy’s been outstanding. He’s our No. 1 goalie. Cullen’s been a big part of our team. That’s the type of guy every team in the league wants to add for a playoff run.”

With a big laugh, Fletcher continued, “We’re trying to win, too, so why can’t we keep them?”

Will the Wild make a splash? “I would like some of our young players to get experience and learn how to play in tough situations,” Fletcher said. “We can’t hide them. They have to go through the process at some point. You can’t just skip it and all of a sudden have these mature players that are just going to come in and play like veterans.”

In 2005-06, Anaheim, with Fletcher as an executive, played rookies Ryan Getzlaf, Corey Perry and Dustin Penner. They got valuable experience and a season later, the Ducks won a Stanley Cup with the trio making significant contributions.

Fletcher doesn’t want to make moves at the deadline that would lessen the roles that Wild rookies Jonas Brodin (top-pair defenseman), Charlie Coyle (first-line right wing) and Jason Zucker (playing second-line left wing before an injury opened the door for Pierre-Marc Bouchard to reestablish himself) would have if the Northwest Division-leading Wild makes the playoffs.

“If they can get this experience, it’ll make them and our team better down the road,” Fletcher said.

As for Cullen, 36, and Backstrom, 35, they’re in the last years of their deals. That always leads to trade rumors two weeks before the deadline because the common theory is teams want to get something for a player they may lose for nothing in the summertime.

“I’ve basically said to all the guys, ‘Let’s just get through the year just because of our situation,’ ” Fletcher said. “Backstrom and Cullen, they’re huge parts of our team. They can play through the end of their contract and, at the end of the year, we can talk to them. They’ll know what they want to do and we’ll know what we want to do.

“I’m not saying things are easy, but they’re not complicated. It’s, ‘Do you want to stay and do we have room to keep you and how’s the fit and how did we do?’ To me, there’s no pressure at all. ”

Cullen, one goal from his 200th, has been outstanding since late January. He has 18 points in his past 22 games and is riding a five-game point streak.

“It’s all over the ice,” coach Mike Yeo said, referring to Cullen’s improved play.

“Penalty killing, his defensive-zone coverage, the way he’s tracking back, faceoffs, forecheck, creating turnovers. He’s using his speed every game.”

Backstrom, with Josh Harding sidelined since Feb. 12, is tied for third in the NHL with 14 victories and has a 2.34 goals-against average. He is 11-3-1 in his past 15 starts.

Still, Fletcher says he doesn’t want to be premature and sign them to extensions when there’s no pressure now to do so.

“I just want to make sure the people you bring back are at the right number and cap hit,” Fletcher said. “I’m not in a hurry to get ahead of anything.”

Cullen says he is not worried about it.

“I’m having a lot of fun playing, enjoying it, we’re winning games, we’re in a good spot and I hope we can go on a run and take a shot at winning the Cup,” Cullen said. “That’s the only thing I’m focusing on and why I came here.”

One player who still might be on the trading block is Bouchard, who is in the last year of his deal. He almost certainly will not be re-signed.

Fletcher said like all teams, he’ll gauge the market to see if anything makes sense before the deadline.

“But besides [Zach] Parise and [Ryan] Suter, we’ve added a lot of players — Torrey Mitchell, Zenon Konopka, Jake Dowell, re-signed [Stephane] Veilleux — that can compete and check and provide depth. I think we’ve tried to get ahead of it by making our moves in the summer as opposed to at the deadline and allowing our team time to come together.

“We’ve added [Mike] Rupp. Brett Clark helps our blue-line depth. We have depth in goal. We have guys in Houston who can come up and play. We’re protected against some of the things that have plagued us in the past, so I don’t know that we have to go do anything.”

  • related content

  • Gameday preview: Wild at Detroit

    Wednesday March 20, 2013

    Wild gameday6:30 P.M. At detroit • JOE LOUIS ARENA • NBCSN, 100.3-FMPreview: The Wild stopped an 11-game winless streak in...

  • Wild center Matt Cullen is near Backstrom’s age and in the same contract situation.

  • WILD AT DETROIT

    6:30 p.m. Wednesday • Joe Louis Arena • TV: NBCSN (100.3-FM)

  • get related content delivered to your inbox

  • manage my email subscriptions

ADVERTISEMENT

Baltimore 2 FINAL
Detroit 15
NY Yankees 5 FINAL
Philadelphia 5
Northeastern 1 FINAL
Boston 2
Miami-Fla 1 FINAL
Miami 7
Pittsburgh 8 FINAL
Toronto 7
San Francisco 4 FINAL
Oakland 9
Cleveland 0 FINAL
Cincinnati 10
Boston College 0 FINAL
Boston 1
Arizona State 0 FINAL
Arizona 4
Boston 79 FINAL
Cleveland 110
LA Lakers 103 FINAL
Charlotte 104
Sacramento 124 FINAL
New York 86
Houston 96 FINAL
Atlanta 104
Utah 93 FINAL
Memphis 82
Washington 92 FINAL
Chicago 97
Milwaukee 95 FINAL
Denver 106
Nashville 1 FINAL
New Jersey 3
Calgary 3 FINAL(OT)
Philadelphia 2
Washington 5 FINAL
Columbus 3
Buffalo 0 FINAL
Tampa Bay 3
Toronto 3 FINAL
Florida 2
Ottawa 2 FINAL(SO)
Minnesota 3
NY Islanders 2 FINAL(OT)
Dallas 3
Anaheim 4 FINAL
Arizona 1
Los Angeles 5 FINAL
Edmonton 2
San Jose 6 FINAL
Vancouver 2
Ole Miss 82 FINAL
Alabama 74
Eastern Mich 67 FINAL
Ball State 60
Kent State 81 FINAL
Bowling Green 80
Ohio 66 FINAL
Buffalo 93
Georgetown 60 FINAL
Butler 54
Toledo 77 FINAL
Central Mich 85
Rhode Island 59 FINAL
Dayton 75
Youngstown St 67 FINAL
Detroit 77
North Carolina 81 FINAL
Georgia Tech 49
Loyola-Maryland 45 FINAL
Holy Cross 62
Iowa 77 FINAL
Indiana 63
Akron 63 FINAL
Miami-Ohio 70
Army 52 FINAL
Navy 56
Maryland 60 FINAL
Rutgers 50
Kennesaw St 54 FINAL
USC Upstate 90
Jacksonville 63 FINAL
Fla Gulf Coast 81
Lipscomb 76 FINAL
Northern Ky 73
Stetson 67 FINAL
North Florida 81
Wright State 57 FINAL
Ill-Chicago 60
Western Mich 63 FINAL
Northern Ill 65
Nebraska Omaha 80 FINAL
North Dakota 78
Houston Baptist 71 FINAL
Abilene Christian 83
NC State 66 FINAL
Clemson 61
Texas A&M 62 FINAL
Florida 66
Kentucky 72 FINAL
Georgia 64
West Virginia 69 FINAL
Kansas 76
Auburn 61 FINAL
Missouri 63
Michigan 78 FINAL
Northwestern 82
Villanova 76 FINAL
Creighton 72
Longwood 55 FINAL
Gardner-Webb 63
Charleston Southern 39 FINAL
Presbyterian 47
Coastal Carolina 54 FINAL
UNC-Asheville 68
NJIT 51 FINAL
UMass Lowell 60
West Virginia 55 FINAL
Kansas State 59
TCU 45 FINAL
Texas 79
Fresno State 61 FINAL
Air Force 41
San Jose St 76 FINAL
Boise State 91
Nevada 61 FINAL
Colorado State 68
UNLV 61 FINAL
San Diego State 76
Wyoming 61 FINAL
Utah State 57
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: How will the Wild finish out the season?

Weekly Question

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

 
Close