FORT LAUDERDALE, FLA. – Dating to the trade deadline and even this week, Chuck Fletcher has (so far) resisted trading his second-round pick (50th overall) in Day 2 of Saturday’s NHL draft.
This may not seem newsworthy, but for a Wild general manager who has used several draft picks as currency in many trades, this would be big news if Fletcher keeps his second-round pick.
“It’s important for [assistant GM] Brent [Flahr] and his staff to be good because I’ve put more pressure on them by trading some of these picks away,” Fletcher admitted.
What Fletcher’s doing is not abnormal. It’s the price of doing business in the NHL. For example, of the 60 second- and third-round picks in this year’s draft excluding a compensatory awarded to Chicago, 28 draft picks (46.7 percent) have been traded. Five of those 28 have actually been traded twice.
“This is not a unique phenomenon,” Fletcher said. “Second- and third-round choices are moves usually made at the trade deadline.”
Fletcher is considering trading down from No. 20 on Friday night in order to “recoup” some of the picks he has traded. He indicated he’d be more inclined to do that particularly if the Devan Dubnyk negotiations go haywire and he’s forced to trade for a goalie. That’s because the asking price could be a second-rounder.
In the 2015, 2016 and 2017 draft, there’s six second- and third-round picks allotted and the Wild has traded four of them. The Wild dealt this year’s third to Arizona for Dubnyk and next year’s to Florida for Sean Bergenheim. It traded next year’s second and a 2017 second to Buffalo for Matt Moulson and Chris Stewart, respectively.
In 2013, the Wild sent a first- and second-round pick and prospects Matt Hackett and Johan Larsson to Buffalo for Jason Pominville and a fourth.
It recouped that second by trading Devin Setoguchi to Winnipeg, but Fletcher then dealt that second to Buffalo has part of the Moulson deal. Yes, the Wild has traded four second-round picks to Buffalo in three years.
“I know there’s been criticism that we trade too many, but we’re looking to win, and at the time we felt those were the moves we had to make,” Fletcher said. “This year though, I think it’s good we have two picks in the top-50. This is a deep draft.”
Fletcher has been self-deprecating about trading all the picks. In fact, he’ll often joke with Flahr and his scouting staff that he hasn’t traded any of their picks — yet.
In the early stages of the Fletcher era, the cupboard was bare and it was all about drafting and developing. That is still a focal point, but Flahr said, “Now that we’re in better position, we’ve made some trades to help the team. But yeah, it’s hard.
“These [scouts] spend their whole life on the road and planning for the draft, so it stings a little bit every time you trade a pick, especially a higher one. But at the same time, they all want to win. That’s the price these days, especially if you want to buy like we have at the trade deadline.”
Granlund talks progress
Fletcher met briefly with Mikael Granlund’s agent, Todd Diamond, on Thursday and they’ll likely meet again Friday. Both sides continue to say they’re not far apart.
Fletcher also met with agent Jay Grossman about injured Niklas Backstrom and unsigned Erik Haula.
The Wild is trying to figure out a way to part with Backstrom, who has one year left on his contract but can’t be bought out without consent from him because he’s hurt.
“We’d like to find a solution that makes sense for everybody,” Fletcher said. “[Grossman’s] welcome to talk to other teams directly because he can represent things better than I come in terms of where [Backstrom’s] at.” …
As far as the Wild knows, it’s still in the Mike Reilly sweepstakes with Chicago and Los Angeles. Fletcher said they haven’t been told they’re out of the running for the former Gophers defenseman.