The quality and quantity of depth in the first round of this year’s NHL draft is so good the Wild is confident it will “definitely” get a top player whether it selects at No. 20 or trades down.
General Manager Chuck Fletcher said while trading up is unlikely because he might not want to part with the assets (often a second-round pick) to move up, trading down is very much an option if the Wild can recoup draft picks it lost in recent deals.
While those decisions will occur on the draft floor Friday, Fletcher’s focus is meeting with unsigned goaltender Devan Dubnyk on Tuesday, re-signing pending restricted free agent Mikael Granlund — potentially this week — and talking trade.
Fletcher flew to Las Vegas on Monday night for Tuesday’s GM meeting and to talk with Dubnyk, a finalist for the Vezina and Masterton trophies at Wednesday night’s NHL Awards Show. Fletcher said he wouldn’t pressure Dubnyk or try to negotiate, but he will attempt the latter in Florida this week with Dubnyk’s agent, Mike Liut.
As for the rest of the roster, Fletcher is not expecting to make “radical changes.”
“I’ve been talking to teams every day, and I expect to talk to more teams Tuesday in Vegas,” Fletcher said. “There will be a ton of dialogue, but we’re perfectly content with coming back with our group for next year. Maybe our move will be this summer. Maybe our move will be next summer. But I’m not going to overreact to four bad games in May [against the eventual Stanley Cup champion Chicago Blackhawks].”
Fletcher said if he makes a significant trade at the draft, “I have no idea what that would be right now.”
Serious talk between teams typically transpires in the days leading up to draft weekend. At this point two years ago, for instance, the Wild didn’t have a single conversation with the Islanders on an ultimate Cal Clutterbuck-for-Nino Niederreiter draft-day deal.
In 2011, the Brent Burns draft-night blockbuster with San Jose didn’t get finalized until right before the draft. Fletcher was assistant GM in Florida in 2000 when the Panthers acquired Roberto Luongo and Olli Jokinen from the Islanders for Mark Parrish and Oleg Kvasha. The deal crystallized the night before the draft.
So even though Fletcher says now he’s not trying to trade players — from captain Mikko Koivu and expensive vet Jason Pominville to defenseman Jared Spurgeon and the unsigned Granlund — even Fletcher admitted Monday that things change.
“I’m anxious to talk to lots of people to see what may be happening because there seems to be people that feel they need to do things,” Fletcher said. “But I’m comfortable where I’m at. We bought out [Matt Cooke] so we can manage our situation easier, so any trade we do make won’t be because of salary-cap reasons or overreacting to what happened in the spring.
“It would be to make our team better.”
Spurgeon’s name has been mentioned because he will command a significant long-term deal this summer or next because he is one year from restricted free agency and two from unrestricted free agency. But Fletcher said he feels no pressure to trade Spurgeon.
“If somebody comes up and makes you an offer on any player that’s unbelievable, we’re always going to listen,” he said. “But this notion that we’re trying to move him or shop him is completely wrong. He’s an excellent defenseman. The next two years we’ll have to figure out the long-term, but there’s lots of time to do that. Right now he’s a big part of our team.
“He doesn’t have a big cap hit [$2.67 million]. He’s an ideal guy for us right now.”
• The Wild will tender qualifying offers to retain the rights of restricted free agents Granlund, Erik Haula and Christian Folin and minor leaguers Brett Bulmer and Jared Knight. It will qualify goalie Johan Gustafsson, but he will play next season in Sweden.
• Curt Gogol and Colton Jobke won’t be retained, while the Wild is still deciding if it qualify defenseman Jon Blum. The Wild may trade Blum this week to give him a fresh start elsewhere.
• Former Gophers defenseman Mike Reilly appears close to making a decision where he will sign as a free agent July 1. The Wild and Blackhawks are considered front-runners.