By Michael Russo
In nine hours, after lots and lots of buildup, the LNH Draft (French) begins.
I’ll be hosting a live chat on startribune.com (Internet permitting because it’s sloooooooooooooooowww) at 10 a.m. today, so get your Draft, trade, new regime, free agency questions ready. Free agency is right around the corner after the weekend.
Right now, crickets as far as trades. I made the rounds around town last night, bumping into scores of NHL types and getting to hang out with guys like Dale Hunter (hysterical dude) and others I’ll keep nameless. Hey, I kept it off Twitter, I might as well keep it off here.
I did bump into Chuck Fletcher and Todd Richards on the street last night, and you can bet they were talking trade. As I think I’ve mentioned on here, and will in a more in-depth story I’m sure during training camp, Fletcher wants to have a wide-open working relationship with Richards.
So he will discuss every trade with Richards to make certain the player will be somebody Richards will be comfortable with, will give ice time to and will be able to excel in his system. So there will be no, “Who?” from the coach if they trade for say, Dominic Moore. And conversely, if a player is not working out for Richards, Fletcher will have an open door. He doesn’t want quality players wasting away on the fourth line or sitting in the press box so the asset value dies.
Now, will anything happen today? We will see. There hasn’t been a single NHL trade yet for all the reasons I’ve mentioned the last couple days and in today’s paper. As Fletcher’s said a couple times, “there’s too much money in the system right now. I mean, the cap’s not going up 20 percent again. There are some teams in bad shape right now.”
I also heard last night Ottawa’s getting a little nervous that’ll be unable to deal Dany Heatley today. Lots of teams have done character references, and the latest trade demand has really caused lots of potential trade partners to back off in their interest. It’s not just his salary, it’s not just the assets you’d give up. It’s definitely him, some off-ice issues and the fact that when the going gets tough, he demands to get going.
Tampa Bay is another interesting situation to watch today. There is still immense friction there involving the fact that one owner wants to trade Vincent Lecavalier and the other doesn’t. His no-trade kicks in July 1 and Montreal, wanting to make a major splash because it’s hosting the Draft, is willing to overpay for him. As somebody said to me, this is the “perfect storm” to move him for huge assets and rid the 11-year contract off the books.
Also, if you read the rumor sights, it’s been reported for weeks that the Wild was hot after Tomas Kaberle for Marek Zidlicky and Josh Harding. I’ve never written that because as I’ve told you before, I don’t like throwing stuff out there unless I personally report it out or confirm it or refute it through sources. It’s a good thing I didn’t throw that against the wall and pray it stuck because I confirmed the Wild is not in the Tomas Kaberle talks. Obviously, things could change I suppose, but I believe the people that told me this, and they’d know.
I do have some other little interesting tidbits I picked up on the Wild last night, and I’ll throw them in tomorrow’s paper or on the blog later once I do a little more reporting. Nothing earth-shattering, but just some potential stuff on the horizon.
OK, I’ll be back on for the chat at 10.