Walz heading south? Gardiner, Sprunger news

Posted on June 16th, 2008 – 10:54 AM
By Michael Russo

– Got busy yesterday, so I forgot to put this up, but I talked to Wes Walz yesterday about the potential opportunity to be Barry Melrose’s assistant in Tampa Bay. I’ve been pursuing this story for a few weeks, but finally got concrete enough info yesterday that he felt he could confirm it to me.

– I’m busy preparing for our Draft coverage this week, so I’ll talk more about free agency after the Draft. But I did want to mention, I’ve gotten some emails about whether the Wild would pursue Daymond Langkow.

It looks like Calgary’s re-signed Langkow already at four years, $20 million — which the Wild wouldn’t have offered anyway. The Flames just can’t announce the deal until July 1 because it puts them over the $50.3 million cap, and the cap doesn’t go up until July 1 (like why the Wild and Bruins had to hold off on the Manny Fernandez trade at last year’s Draft; the trade put the Bruins over the cap until July 1).

This isn’t written in stone. It just appears this way because reporters in Calgary keep referring to Langkow like he’s already signed.

– As for Olli Jokinen, the Flames have bigtime interest in reuniting the Florida captain with Mike Keenan, but they would have to dump a giant salary to get him — probably Alex Tanguay. 

I am told Florida really wants to make a trade for a first-round pick (it traded its first last year for Tomas Vokoun), and further indication of this: The Panthers are meeting Friday with Minnetonka’s Jake Gardiner, which would be a waste of time unless they felt they could trade for a first-round pick.

It’s looking more and more doubtful Gardiner gets to the Wild at 24, regardless. I’ve talked to three teams in the last two days that have significant interest in Gardiner, and all three teams pick earlier than Minnesota.

– The IIHF-NHL transfer agreement has officially expired. Here’s the Canadian Press report on TSN. This affects the Wild’s Julien Sprunger. He’s signed a contract in Switzerland this season, so he’s staying there, and Wild assistant GM Tom Lynn says the Wild may lose his rights when the final agreement is worked out with the NHLPA.

– USA Hockey has announced its roster for its world junior tryouts in August. Several Minnesotans invited, including Gardiner and Minnesota’s Mr. Hockey, Aaron Ness. You can check out the roster here.

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