Vincent Lecavalier


Nearly 24 hours from free agency; Wild depth chart as of now; USA Olympic orientation camp roster; Mill named assistant to the GM

Tuesday, June 30th, 2009

I’ll be back on later this evening with a more in-depth free-agent primer, but I figured I’d jump on and say hello now.

I know there are all these Vincent Lecavalier rumors to Minnesota floating around the blogosphere, but I can tell you that yesterday morning, as good a source as you can possibly have from one of the two teams told me that “Vinny’s staying — 100 percent,” meaning he will not be traded before his July 1 no-trade kicks in.

I suppose if some deal knocked the Lightning’s socks off in the next 24 hours, that could change. But let’s be honest — it’s very doubtful the Wild has those assets to suddenly make the Lightning change its mind.

Essentially, as I mentioned on the blog last week, one owner wants to move Lecavalier; one does not. And both owners have veto power of any trade, so it would take a major philosophical altercation by that one owner today to put Lecavalier in another zip code.

Also, Lecavalier’s cap hit might be $7.7+ million in the next 11 years, but he makes $10 million in real dollars in the next seven. I just don’t see the Wild being willing take on that type of commitment in this economy.

It will be interesting to see if there are trades tomorrow. Remember, you can go 5 percent over the cap starting July 1 until training camp, so as often is the case, trades are agreed to at the draft and executed on July 1 (Manny Fernandez to Bruins, Marek Zidlicky to Wild, although that had to wait simply because that’s when Zidlicky’s no-trade expired).

The Senators have to trade Dany Heatley by midnight if they’re going to escape paying him that $4 million bonus.

Also talked to two sources yesterday — one exec, one agent — and both said they’d be shocked if Josh Harding isn’t traded in the near future. He’s got arbitration rights, and the agent thought he’d be owed a fairly significant raise just because of his goals against and save percentage last season.

Here’s a look at the depth chart as it currently sits assuming all the UFA’s go to free agency, so have some fun today, check out the free agent lists and you fill in the holes:

LW                              C                                RW

———                Koivu                          Bouchard

Brunette                Sheppard                   Nolan

Miettinen              Belanger                    Clutterbuck

Boogaard              Brodziak                     Weller

Potential candidates: Pouliot, Gillies, Irmen, Kalus

***I see the Wild pursuing a center, which would bump down the center spots and maybe put Brodziak on the right side and Weller in the press box; If they don’t sign a No. 2 center, maybe Bouchard or Pouliot gets that chance, which opens up a top-two line RW spot.

LD                         RD 

Johnsson              Burns

Schultz                  Zidlicky

Scott                      ———-

*** I see the Wild bringing in two NHL defensemen, meaning Scott could be the extra.

Goalies

Backstrom

Harding

***Harding is trade bait, and then the Wild would sign a cheaper backup goalie, and they grow on trees.

Kudos to editor/sportswriter Mark Wollemann for stepping in for me yesterday. The day off was very much appreciated.

Update: Negotiations are ongoing right now with Chicago and Pittsburgh regarding Martin Havlat and Ruslan Fedotenko, but if they are not re-signed, the Wild may pursue.

Update: USA Hockey announced the roster for August’s Olympic orientation camp. Here is the release.

The roster includes several Minnesotans or players with Minnesota ties: Tom Gilbert, Erik Johnson, Paul Martin, David Backes, Dustin Byfuglien, Phil Kessel, Jamie Langenbrunner, Ryan Malone, Kyle Okposo, T.J. Oshie and Zach Parise. 

Update: Wild at least having talks still with Stephane Veilleux.

Update: Wild has hired Jim Mill (not Nill) assistant to the GM and GM of the Aeros.

(more…)

Good morning, … Chat with me at 10 a.m.

Friday, June 26th, 2009

lnh.jpg

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.