If you didn’t see the Matt Cooke waiver/potential buyout blog, see the previous blog.
But one week from today, if Devan Dubnyk is not re-signed by the Wild, the potential unrestricted free agent as of July 1 will be allowed to begin talking to 29 other teams as part of the free-agent interview period.
From what I understand, there has been little headway toward a new deal. In fact, maybe things changed yesterday or today, but there hasn't been a ton of communication between GM Chuck Fletcher and agent Mike Liut since that original meeting at the combine.
Of course, as one agent I talked to today on another subject said, "a deal is always one phone call away," so don't fret yet.
Dubnyk is currently on a golf trip in Ireland. He will be in Las Vegas next week as part of the NHL Awards Show as a finalist for the Vezina and Masterton Trophies.
Fletcher will also be there, so perhaps the two will meet face to face.
One has to assume there’s a mutual fit here. From Dubnyk’s perspective, he revived his career behind the Wild’s strong defensive structure the last three months of the season. From the Wild’s perspective, he saved the team’s bacon by coming in and providing unbelievable stability for a team that has had zero goalie stability the past several years.
Dubnyk is looking for north of $5 million on a long-term deal. That could be significantly more than the Wild’s willing to stomach after seeing Dubnyk play for 3 ½ months, particularly with the cap issues the team faces this offseason with Dubnyk, Mikael Granlund, Erik Haula and Christian Folin still unsigned.
However, with Matt Cooke looking like he’ll be the NHL’s first buyout casualty, the Wild would save $2 million in cap space this year and thus have about $12 million now in space.
Liut and Fletcher are supposed to meet in South Florida during draft week about Dubnyk. But because of the GM's Meetings and Awards Show, Fletcher won’t arrive in Fort Lauderdale until Thursday -- the day Dubnyk and Liut are also permitted to speak with other teams.
So time is starting to become precious here.
San Jose, Edmonton, Buffalo and maybe Calgary are four teams looking for goalies. Perhaps Fletcher is banking on a couple of those teams swinging a deal for a goalie prior to or at the draft. For every team that trades for a goalie, that takes a potential landing spot away from Dubnyk and thus maybe gives the Wild leverage that it doesn’t currently have.
The Rangers’ Cam Talbot is the most appealing name reportedly available. It certainly sounds like San Jose and Edmonton are hot after him. Other goalies potentially available via trade include Vancouver’s Eddie Lack, Ottawa’s Robin Lehner and Craig Anderson and Chicago’s Antti Raanta.
Also, as I’ve mentioned several times, Fletcher is likely also multi-tasking here and talking trade in case this thing goes awry or the Wild has simply decided that Dubnyk will cost too much for too long. Other goalies available in free agency include Kari Ramo, Antti Niemi, Jhonas Enroth and Michal Neuvirth.
Either way, it’s getting pretty last minute here for a team that won’t feel comfortable heading into next season with Darcy Kuemper and a once-again-injured Niklas Backstrom.
For MUCH more detail on the Dubnyk situation, my thoughts and the Wild’s challenging offseason, take a listen to the most recent Russo-Souhan podcast here.
-- Mike Reilly situation. A few weeks ago, I wrote that “as of right now the Blackhawks are the frontrunners.”
Don’t want to get your hopes up, but the Wild’s still very, very much in this.
The list is cut down. I believe it’s down to the Wild, Hawks, Kings and Pens. He has made his visits, talked with the GM’s, the contracts would all be the same two-year deals with max bonuses. Now his plan is to circle back and talk with a few of the team’s coaches before making a final decision.
He can’t sign until July 1, but he can make his decision and even an announcement before.
It’d be interesting if the Wild wins the sweepstakes only because Reilly’s agent, Pat Brisson, has a ton of history with the Blackhawks (Jonathan Toews-Patrick Kane deals), the Penguins (Sidney Crosby’s agent, pals with Mario Lemieux), the Kings (pals with Rob Blake). If he chooses Minnesota over those appealing choices, it does show that Reilly’s the one making the decision, not Brisson.
The 2015 Hobey Baker finalist and Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year scored 18 goals and 89 points in 117 games in three years with the Gophers. He led NCAA defensemen his junior year with 42 points and was the first Gophers defenseman to lead the team in scoring since Mike Crowley tallied 56 points in 1996-97. Reilly tied for third among all NCAA players with 36 assists (led defensemen), ranked first among all NCAA skaters with 19 power-play assists and earned First Team All-America and Big Ten honors for a second consecutive season.
Oh, and the Wild’s power play stinks and lacks young skill from the back end in the organization.
-- Jordan Leopold wants to come back. Basically, it’s unlikely he’ll be willing to sign elsewhere at this stage of his career. The Wild liked the way he played for them and loved the way he mentors guys like Matt Dumba (they’re doing the Road Tour together). The Wild is interested in re-signing him to a one-year deal, but basically, as I said clearer in the podcast, it sounds like Fletcher has told his camp to just stay patient, let them do their work here the next few weeks, then they’ll count up cap space and bodies and circle back to him. As long as he keeps training, he’ll be there for the Wild to sign if there’s room. By the way, Leopold and his daughter, Jordyn, were on Paul Allen’s show on KFAN yesterday and Jordyn will present the GM of the Year Award at the Awards show in Vegas. Steve Yzerman (Tampa Bay), Bob Murray (Anaheim) and Glen Sather (Rangers) are the finalists.
By the way, I will be filling in for P.A. on KFAN on July 1, July 7 and 8 and July 14 and 15.
-- Here are the 39 invitees for USA Hockey’s 2016 world junior team evaluation camp. It includes Wild prospects Alex Tuch and Louie Belpedio, Gopher Ryan Collins and potential first-round picks Brock Boeser and Paul Bittner.
-- The NHL schedule is expected to be announced next Thursday.
-- The Wild will host its annual Summer Bash and NHL Draft Viewing Party for fans from 6-9 p.m. on June 26. Fans can visit the Wild locker room and Al Shaver Press Box, and watch the first round on the videoboard. Festivities include autograph opportunities, floor hockey and Top Shot interactive games, face painters and a kids coloring station. KFAN FM 100.3 will also be broadcasting on site. A wide array of Wild merchandise - some player-autographed - will be available to purchase with proceeds benefitting the Wild Foundation. For Wild Road Tour details June 23-25, go to wild.com.
I may be back later with another blog.