By Michael Russo
Just returned from the Wild’s press conference to muse about the 10th Draft in franchise history.
The Wild owns the 12th pick in next Friday’s first round, then three fourths, a fifth, a sixth and a seventh Saturday. It has no second- or third-round pick currently, although Chuck Fletcher is trying to attain more picks. He’d like to make some moves in advance of the Draft with the hope of giving him more bullets in the chamber — either to use at the Draft or offer in trades.
I’ll write a lot more about the Draft in Sunday’s newspaper and starting middle of next week, but as I’ve been alluding to on here, there’s almost no way the Wild can move up in the Draft unless it gets a second and/or third and there’s a very good chance the Wild moves down.
When it gets to 12, if there’s three or four players still on the Wild’s list that the scouts all love, there’s a great chance Fletcher rolls the dice and moves down if it means still potentially getting one of those players and adding a player or second- or third-round pick. As I wrote a few days after Fletcher was hired, he feels draft picks are the lifeblood of franchises. He says “they’re currency,” and the more you have, the more flexibility you have to either take players with them or wheel and deal. Right now, he’s severely hamstrung.
As he said today, “Championships are won on the Draft floor.”
Like I said, I’ll write a lot more about the Draft next week. I had lunch last week with Tommy Thompson, and a great deal of the eventual story next week will be on the local Minnesotans — Jordan Schroeder, Nick Leddy and Zach Budish.
And I can promise you, whether you like it or not, the Wild will 100 percent go by their list. They will not be drafting a player based on where he’s from. If they get to 12, and No. 8 on their list is still available and Schroeder or Leddy is 9, they will definitely take 8. And that’s what every team in this league would do.
As for Marian Gaborik, Chuck Fletcher said he “intends to push the process forward next week so we try to get a sense from them” whether or not he’s willing to re-sign in Minnesota.
Fletcher won’t put a deadline on Gaborik, but he did say, he’s working the phones on trades, and a lot of what he does will depend on what he hears from Gaborik. There are things out there “that make sense for us,” he says.
If Gaborik isn’t re-signed by the Draft and a trade is available to make, Fletcher may just have to pull the trigger even if it means definitely closing the door on Gaborik.
“Gabby’s a great player, but at this point, we’re two weeks from free agency and we have to look at every avenue to improve our club,” Fletcher said.
As I’ve said over and over again on this blog, almost always when it gets to this point, the player tests the market – and understandably so. However, I have a sneaking suspicion Fletcher will make a bona fide contract offer to Gaborik next week.
Fletcher definitely loves Gaborik as a player and feels he’s worth the risk of a legit contract — probably a four or five-year deal in the $7 million range. Then, it’ll be up to Gaborik. And Fletcher would almost certainly prefer to re-sign Gaborik and give up no assets rather than trade for a marquee player and give up a boatload of assets.