Good evening from Vancouver, where I'm winding down Day 22 on the road.
As reported in Tuesday's Star Tribune in this story here, there is a potential snag in the Marek Zidlicky contract negotiations that must be resolved in the next 24-36 hours by Wednesday at 2 p.m., or Zidlicky could be traded.
There's a couple complications, but according to sources, the most notable one is this: Zidlicky wants a no-trade clause for the length of a three-year contract that's all but agreed upon. The Wild's only offering a partial one.
Zidlicky is 33 years old, and the Wild's hesitant to put itself in a position where it's unable to trade him if he's not performing late into in his contract. Zidlicky doesn't want to sign on the dotted line if the Wild's just going to turn around and trade him in a year or two. In other words, if they'd just do that, he might as well become a free agent.
If neither sides budge, he'll likely be traded. Teams have shown interest. The breaking point could be Tuesday because the problem is if the Wild waits too long, one of those teams could change directions and deal for another defenseman. Playoff contenders I hear in the market for an offensive defenseman include Buffalo, Colorado, the Rangers, Philadelphia. I'm sure there are others, but these are the ones I've been hearing.
Again to make clear though, the Wild wants to sign Zidlicky, but I have trouble buying they're going to give him a no-trade for the life of the contract to get it done, especially when this summer there are quality defensemen available.
As for the other UFA's, they are Owen Nolan, Eric Belanger, Shane Hnidy, Derek Boogaard, John Scott and Andrew Ebbett.
A month ago, I was being led to believe they wouldn't trade Nolan because they felt he'd be integral in the postseason. The Wild's five points out with five teams to climb. Reality says the playoffs will be difficult to achieve, especially with the March road schedule and the fact the Wild has not proven it can win consistently on the road.
There are teams interested in Nolan, perhaps Los Angeles, Washington and San Jose. I think the Wild is considering trading him now. If they decide to move him and a handful of teams are offering roughly the same price, I'd suspect Chuck Fletcher would show Nolan the respect and let him almost choose his team even though he doesn't have a no-trade. I only say that because I know how much Fletcher respects Nolan and the way he's playing this season.
I do believe the Wild would consider trading Eric Belanger if there's interest, and I hear some teams have kicked tires. Between his penalty killer and his faceoff prowess, I'd think he could be traded.
As Fletcher said in Monday's Star Tribune though, there won't be a gutting of the roster. He pointed out that in the Cam Barker deal, he bought and sold, so he thinks the whole notion of being a buyer and seller is misleading sometimes.
I've gotten a lot of emails asking about Boogaard. I could be wrong obviously, but I just have trouble believing a playoff contender would be trading for a fighter since there's rarely fighting in the playoffs.
Anyways, stay tuned Tuesday and Wednesday. I have a 6 a.m. flight to Calgary (8 a.m. your time), so I'll be out of the loop for a few hours.
The Wild will be flying to Calgary after practice Tuesday afternoon. Is everybody on the flight?
Management will not be. Fletcher and Co. plan to spend the deadline in the team's war room so this way there's total access to several phones, computers, team depth charts and reserve lists and most of all, a fax machine. Can you imagine you make a trade on the road and you have to run to fax the particulars to the league prior to the conference call and some businessman's hogging the fax machine at 1:58 p.m.?
Believe it or not, trade procedures are still that archaic.