Good morning from Buffalo, where finally the NHL draft is upon us. The first round is 6 p.m. on NBC Sports Network, the second through seventh rounds start at 9 a.m. Saturday and can be seen on NHL Network.
The Wild has four picks, currently.
First round, 15th overall; Fourth round, 106th; Seventh round, 196th and 204th (from Florida).
As a refresher, the Wild traded its second-round pick to Buffalo in Matt Moulson/Cody McCormick deal, third-round pick to Florida for Sean Bergenheim, fifth-round pick to Boston for a 2015 fifth-round pick that became Kirill Kaprizov; sixth-round pick to Calgary in David Jones for Niklas Backstrom deal.
As a rehasher, I wanted to re-post my articles from this week for your reading pleasure today.
There is no doubt that GM Chuck Fletcher is still fielding phone calls on some of the young D -- Jonas Brodin, Marco Scandella and Matt Dumba. The Wild is willing to part with any only if the return is a young, scoring forward. Otherwise, Fletcher seems willing to wait for free agency or later this summer to make a trade. Fletcher's theory is that while most offseasons the league goes to sleep in the second half of July and August, he feels this is an offseason where even into training camp teams will have to make moves because so many will have to get cap compliant or need to clean things up in preparation for next summer's expansion draft.
I have been told by sources that the Arizona Coyotes are searching for a right-shot defenseman to complement the Alex Goligoski signing. They're really eyeing St. Louis' Kevin Shattenkirk, but they have also inquired about Dumba. The Wild may have interest in veteran Martin Hanzal, but I've been told they've asked about young star Christian Dvorak.
Darcy Kuemper is still in play, but Calgary has its eye set on Ben Bishop, a true No. 1. I don't see Fletcher just giving Kuemper away to be a backup elsewhere. He'd love to do him a favor, but if Fletcher is just trading him to be a No. 2 somewhere else, well, the Wild would be better off keeping Kuemper as its No. 2 if the trade value is low.
Remember, Kuemper was quite good last December when Devan Dubnyk was hurt.
We'll have a better idea by the end of the day what direction the Wild's going. If there's no big trade, the Wild very likely will be aggressive in free agency.
Kyle Okposo makes the most sense, but that'll be costly as he's looking for big term and money after being on a very team-friendly contract the past five years ($2.8M per). David Backes is exactly what they need in my humble opinion, but term could be the big concern.
To sign a big free agent, as I've reported for weeks, the Wild would almost surely have to buy out Thomas Vanek. In the past few days, I've been told by sources that Fletcher has formally informed Vanek's camp that this is entirely under consideration. Here's today's story on that subject and also Fletcher's comments yesterday on trades, restricted free agents Jason Zucker and Tyler Graovac and the need to sign a goalie for Iowa (Alex Stalock or Dan Ellis make sense).
Here are the rest of the stories from the week, but I'll be on KFAN at 10:55 a.m. and I'm also filling in for Paul Allen from 9-noon Tuesday and Wednesday, so there will be plenty of hockey talk then.