If you took a late lunch today, went to the gym or dropped your phone in the toilet, you missed, "NHL GM's Go Wild."
In back-to-back-to-back moves, the Edmonton Oilers traded Taylor Hall to the New Jersey Devils for defenseman Adam Larsson in a one-for-one move, the Nashville Predators and Montreal Canadiens blew the doors off that by making a one-for-one Shea Weber for P.K. Subban blockbuster and the Tampa Bay Lightning re-signed captain Steven Stamkos to a reported eight-year, $68 million deal.
To say the least, the Jason Zucker two-year, $4 million re-signing with the Wild is no longer the biggest news of the NHL day.
As for the trades, clearly culture change moves. The Stamkos re-signing could adversely affect the Wild and many others because two teams in on Stamkos, Buffalo and Detroit, could now really key on Kyle Okposo, whose .88 points per game the past three years is second most among potential free agents behind only Stamkos.
During the courting period that started Saturday, the Wild has spoken with Okposo and his agent, Pat Brisson, multiple sources say. Not a shock, I know, so it shouldn't surprise you, too, that many teams have talked to Okposo. He clearly has a shot at a term of at least six years and hefty money, likely the $6 million per year range.
In fact, Stamkos' re-signing probably helped all the top free agents: David Backes, whom the Wild has also spoken with, Loui Eriksson, Frans Nielsen and Andrew Ladd.
I love this Subban-Weber trade for Nashville, but Montreal clearly had enough of him. His public popularity made it a tough trade, but adding a much older Weber with more years on his term (under contract til age 40) makes this a dangerous trade for the Habs (although shows how much they wanted to move Subban, who's under contract til 33).
Hall is dynamic, but the Oilers look like they're gearing up to sign Milan Lucic on Friday. So they turned to trading the star left wing instead of the center, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, for now.
As I wrote the other day in the Nugent-Hopkins story from the draft, the Oilers were in the "middle of everything," according to a source, and all their young forwards "not named Connor McDavid" were in play.
They wanted a future No. 1 defenseman, preferably a right-shot one.
The Wild's in the market for a center and/or a right wing, especially with Mikael Granlund maybe moving to left wing and Zach Parise, Jason Zucker and Nino Niederreiter also left wingers.
Did the Wild ever offer Dumba for Nugent-Hopkins? We don't know. The only thing we can probably surmise is Dumba would have had to be the player if the Oilers were willing to trade Hall or Nugent-Hopkins to Minnesota. That doesn't mean a trade was ever there to pull the trigger on, though.
Perhaps, Edmonton had its hands in everything and thought more of Larsson, a 6-foot-3 2011 No. 4 overall pick, than Dumba, the No. 7 pick in 2012. That happened, I believe, in the Ryan Johansen trade with Nashville. Columbus had an offer from the Wild (I was told involving Jonas Brodin), and the Jackets liked the Seth Jones offer better.
I'm not the biggest Larsson fan, but obviously the Oilers are.
Regardless, I'd think this ends the Nugent-Hopkins-Dumba chatter.
Does it completely end the Nugent-Hopkins chatter? Who knows?
One reason the Dumba for Nugent-Hopkins chatter made little sense to me is Nugent-Hopkins is a $6 million player through 2021 and Dumba is a potential restricted free agent likely readying to sign an inexpensive bridge deal.
Nugent-Hopkins for Jonas Brodin made more sense because the mobile, terrific defenseman has five years left on his deal at almost $4.2 million per. Trading that contract for Nugent-Hopkins' expensive one would allow the Wild more flexibility to do other things, like go after a winger at a lucrative deal.
Also, make a trade for Nugent-Hopkins, and it's a long-term decision and will keep the Wild from getting in on any other potential No. 1 or 2 centers available now or in the future. So you better be sure Nugent-Hopkins will develop into a stud if you acquire him. Otherwise, you're better off looking a different direction now or waiting for somebody or somebodies you think will be available via trade or free agency in the future.
Maybe they look at Derek Stepan, although at $6.5 million through 2021, same thing, you better be sure.
So, maybe they wait, which could explain why the Wild and veteran center Eric Staal have talked during the free-agent courting period.
I spoke earlier today with Staal's agent, Rick Curran, who said, "There’s mutual interest and consideration that there is a fit with Minnesota. We’ve had conversation and I would also suggest Eric was extremely impressed."
Staal, 31, 71 games short of 1,000 and the second overall pick in 2003, has declined since his days as a 30+-goal, 70-to-100-point guy. The 2006 Cup winner and Thunder Bay, Ontario, native scored 13 goals between the Hurricanes and the Rangers this past season, but he has scored 325 goals and 781 career points.
I've talked to a lot of players today, including his former teammate Matt Cullen, and all believe that Staal still has game in the right situation.
"I feel like he's a guy that really has got a lot to prove," Cullen told me on KFAN today. "He's going to play with some attitude. I think he still has that fire, and to me, if he still has that, he's got the physical skillset to be a difference maker. I have a lot of confidence that he's going to have a big year next year, I really do."
Cullen, by the way, plans to play a 20th NHL season next year. His hope is to re-sign with the Penguins, where he won his second Stanley Cup two weeks ago. Cullen gets that Cup in Moorhead on July 30-31.
If you didn't hear my KFAN interview with him today, click this link. Was a fun interview.
If Staal's on a short-term deal at a quality price, maybe the Wild is looking at him as a stopgap until it has the chance to acquire a No. 1 center (not that they're available often) in the next few years or looking at him as an available option if it can't trade for a center before Friday or sign someone like Backes.
Oh, as I mentioned above, the Wild has reached out to Backes, but at 32 and having played hard minutes, I'm not sure the term Backes will command would be appetizing to the Wild. To me, he makes the most sense though of the centers available in free agency, but again, he's about to make big bucks. Nielsen, 32, whom I also like, also reportedly rejected a $5.5 million deal with the Islanders, so that would seem to take the Wild out.
Other centers out there include Darren Helm and Sam Gagner.
If Okposo chooses elsewhere, other free-agent right wings include, Mikkel Boedker, I suppose Shane Doan, who at 39 is reportedly being asked to take a pay cut in Arizona, Troy Brouwer, Joe Colborne, Chris Stewart, etc. I don't get the sense the Wild has shown a lot of interest in David Perron, but we'll see.
Okposo is clearly the main target, but there's a lot of competition.
Hopefully, all this makes sense. Kind of an off the cuff blog with a lot of guess work based on intel.
But to say I know exactly what GM Chuck Fletcher has up his sleeve would be fooling everyone. In fact, it wouldn't shock me even if Fletcher is trying to navigate through a lot of balls in the air.
I did talk to Bruce Boudreau on KFAN today and he said, "I don't really know. It's exciting to me. I go to bed thinking every night, 'OK, what if we get this guy? What if we get that guy?' But I've told Chuck all along, 'I really like our team.' I think the end of the year was an anomaly, and the 87 points was an anomaly. I always thought they were a very tough team to play against, and I think we'll be good whether we pick up one player or five players or no players."
If you didn't hear my Boudreau interview, I tweeted it out or go to kfan's web site.
We'll also see if the Wild circles back and looks at re-signing fourth-liners Ryan Carter or Chris Porter.
I'll be on KFAN again at 5:55 p.m. Also, here's the Russo-Souhan Show today pre-NHL mayhem. Very fun show and free-agent primer.