By Michael Russo
Word of the day: Scruples. Yes, scruples. Scruples. I love that word, except when some people don’t have any.
Scruples. Scruples. Scruples.
I hope I just made somebody out there in the media world feel guilty (if you think I’m talking about you, I probably am).
So onward, about 11 minutes ago (it’s 2:11 p.m. my time as I start this blog), GM Chuck Fletcher began a meeting with his staff to go over Draft strategy and undoubtedly trades. During a morning meeting, assistant GM Tommy Thompson finished all pre-draft player interviews and finalized the Wild’s Draft list with the scouts.
What do I hear through the grapevine. I know beyond a shadow of a doubt that the St. Louis Blues are definitely interested in Josh Harding, but Fletcher wants something substantial for him and if it doesn’t come now, he’s willing to wait until later this summer or next season. However, the tricky thing here is there’s only a certain smattering of teams that are looking for a goalie next season and beyond, and if they don’t get Harding now, they’ll sign a free agent goalie after July 1.
So Harding is definitely in play. But Fletcher would love a top-six forward rather than, say, a second-round pick because at least with the NHLer, you know what you’re getting. A draft pick, as we all know, can amount to something or amount to nothing.
TSN’s Darren Dreger “tweeted” (I’ve learned the lingo) that the Wild is one of a handful of teams still in the Ryane Clowe sweepstakes with San Jose. I haven’t confirmed, but I trust Dreger’s sources and it makes a helluva lot of sense. Clowe is an awesome young player, you can bet former Sharks assistant Todd Richards loves him and he plays the exact type of high-octane, hard-nosed style the Wild wants to play.
It’ll take good assets to get him though, and who knows if the Wild’s got em. And then you’ve got to sign him, which won’t be cheap, which is the reason the Sharks may deal him if they can’t sign him for themselves.
According to impeccable sources, Fletcher interviewed Tampa Bay’s Claude Loiselle this morning for the vacant assistant GM’s post. Loiselle’s contract expires June 30 and has permission to seek other employment. Loiselle is a well-respected guy who used to play, has negotiated contracts and knows the league well, especially because he used to work for the NHL.
However, as I reported a few weeks ago, the second tomorrow’s Draft ends, Ottawa Director of Hockey Ops Brent Flahr has a window to talk to other teams. He’s the likely guy as he and Fletcher are very close from their days working together in Florida and Anaheim.
Nothing new on the assistant coaching situation, although word on the street is Richards and at least Mike Ramsey had a very good initial meeting.
Speaking of assistant GM’s, Tom Lynn is here and actually will be on the media risers with yours truly tonight as a member of the stinkin’ media, haha. I joked with him yesterday that the first time he stands behind the barricade trying to wave down a GM, I’m taking a picture and holding it for ransom.
Lynn’s doing a blog for the Hockey News, and here’s his first posting on the anatomy of Draft deal. Remember, Wild has done many or set up many trades at the Draft.
I talked to agent Don Baizley in the lobby this morning. He and Montreal plan to talk early next week about Saku Koivu, and that’s all Koivu’s thinking about, he said. But if he goes to free agency, you know who’s a coming after him. That’s me saying that, not Baize.
There’s other stuff, but I’ve got to report it out some more. One of them is a bit of a Wild newsmaker, but I’m not comfortable writing it just yet. But … maybe later.