DENVER – Chuck Fletcher appears to be positioning the Wild for a trade or two in advance of Monday’s deadline.
The Wild general manager made a roster move that was technically unnecessary, placing winger Stephane Veilleux on waivers Friday. Eventually, that could give the Wild flexibility to be two short of the maximum roster of 23.
Veilleux won’t necessarily be assigned to the minors if he clears waivers Saturday. He’s the only extra skater on the roster, so he will certainly be staying unless the Wild needs his roster spot because of a trade.
Either something’s in the works or Fletcher is just making sure he has the roster space in case something transpires.
Fletcher has a history of significant moves at the deadline. In 2013, he sent two prospects, a first-round pick and a second-round pick to Buffalo for Jason Pominville and a fourth-round pick.
Last year, he traded two second-round picks and Torrey Mitchell to Buffalo for Matt Moulson and Cody McCormick.
Fletcher said this year he won’t trade his first- or second-round pick or top prospects.
Last week, Fletcher said with the Wild playing well and players stepping up, his trade-deadline thinking shifted toward improving the Wild’s depth. The next day, he acquired winger Sean Bergenheim from the Florida Panthers for a 2016 third-round pick.
The Wild might trade for a depth defenseman, though. The Wild has interest in Columbus’ Jordan Leopold, according to sources. Leopold, 34, was acquired by the Blue Jackets from St. Louis in November for a 2016 fifth-round pick, and it’s believed the price is a midrange draft pick.
The former Gopher, 2002 national champion and Hobey Baker winner has 67 goals and 213 points in 677 games for seven NHL teams (Calgary, Colorado, Florida, Pittsburgh, Buffalo, St. Louis and Columbus).
Most enticing to the Wild, he’s a left-shot defenseman with NHL experience.
Nate Prosser, a right-shot defenseman, has done a solid job on the left side. He’s plus-10 in his past 13 games and has been an even or plus player in all 13. But beyond Ryan Suter, Jonas Brodin and Marco Scandella, minor-leaguer Justin Falk is the only other NHL-ready left-shot defenseman in the organization.
Other top defensemen on the open market are Edmonton’s Jeff Petry and former Wild player Zbynek Michalek, who is with Arizona but has a concussion right now.
Others available include Carolina’s Tim Gleason, Buffalo’s Andrej Meszaros and Colorado’s Jan Hejda.