By Michael Russo
As I guessed last weekend here, the Wild is considering making a contract offer to free-agent winger Petr Sykora, multiple sources tell me.
GM Chuck Fletcher, who knows Sykora better than most because he had him in Anaheim and Pittsburgh when he was assistant GM in both cities, is weighing the pros and cons of making an offer.
The pros: Sykora is a gifted goal scorer and as consistent as they come, topping 20 goals for 10 straight years (one of three active players, Jarome Iginla and Jason Arnott being the others).
The cons: He’s not the greatest skater, and he’d be in a skating system; and Fletcher still believes that if he waits a little longer, players could fall into his lap as teams are forced to create more salary cap flexibility as the season approaches or gets older. The Wild only has $2.4 million of cap room, so signing Sykora could hinder a later move.
Sykora, 32, is a two-time Cup winner who has 300 goals and 674 points in 921 games over 13 seasons with five teams. He’s a great guy, loved by his teammates and he’s a sharp-shooter when he gets the puck above the circles. He’s also 11 for 27 in shootouts. He’s back home in the Czech Republic awaiting an NHL team to sign with. He’d love to come to Minnesota, especially because he’s been linemates at the Olympics and World Championships in the past with Martin Havlat.
I’m told Sykora is the only free agent Fletcher is really considering right now. He has some interest in Maxim Afinogenov because of his speed, but he has not talked to Afinogenov’s agent at all. He has, however, talked with Sykora’s agent on and off all summer.
Like I said, no contract offer has been tendered yet, but Fletcher is considering maybe offering one next week.
He feels if he signs Sykora, it must be before training camp because he doesn’t want to sign any free agents who don’t have the benefit of a camp (to learn the system and get in shape). The only caveat there? If the Wild’s ravaged by injuries in camp, he’d consider free agents, of course.
Unless there’s news, blog will likely be dormant until the middle of next week because I’m out of town.