Saturday, June 29, 2013

2013 NHL Draft: Fasten Your Seat Belts

Photo tweeted by @DarrenDreger

In the days leading up to the draft, you were expecting a bunch of trades to be made. Several teams have tight cap space and still have several spots on the roster to fill. The wheeling and dealing should of been at a ridiculous pace by now, right? Wrong.

Since the end of the Stanley Cup Final on Monday, the most prolific trade was a laughable one between the Avalanche and Flames. Rumors have been flying around like no other this week, but none of them have come to fruition. One has to think that at some point, those deals will finally get done.

Going into this draft, the Wild appear to be one of the teams looking to heavily wheel and deal. Russo points out today that the team is shopping Cal Clutterbuck around and are trying to get back into the first round of the draft (their existing first round pick was sent to Buffalo in the Jason Pominville trade).

It has also been mentioned that the team could buyout Tom Gilbert, before the buyout window closes on July 4th, to clear his $4M off the cap. It would give them much more breathing room in the cap to work with this year (the team only has $3.6M in cap space right now).

Chuck Fletcher has a history of draft day trades. Every one of them should be considered a success. So should he choose to make a move on Sunday, the odds that the trade works in his favor are very high (credit for the previous trades also go to Brent Flahr, who has been the unsung hero of the Wild front office).

If nothing at all happens today, you can sure expect an abundance of moves tomorrow. Players and picks will be moved at a high rate, bringing Gary Bettman to the podium far too many times than we would care for.

Fasten your seat belts, folks. It is going to be a great day.

Required Draft Reading:
  • Dan Chan, from Hockey Wilderness, tells us that the Wild need to draft physical defenseman and goal scorers. He also gives his Top 100 Rankings (this will come in handy tomorrow when Seth Jones and Nate Mackinnon are off the boards).
  • First Round Bust has literally spent the entire month going over all things draft related, so just click on this link and you can find all their draft coverage.
  • TSN's Bob McKenzie gives his draft rankings.
  • ESPN's Scott Burnside tells us who to keep an eye on.

Follow Giles on Twitter @gilesferrell

Saturday, June 22, 2013

Stay Away From Bernier

Yesterday, it was reported that there were three teams left in the sweepstakes for Los Angeles Kings backup goaltender, Jonathan Bernier. The Wild were one of those teams. They are joined by the Toronto Maple Leafs and Philadelphia Flyers, as the teams who Los Angeles has their list narrowed down to.

Bernier has been the Kings backup netminder for three seasons. This past season he played in 14 games (not a bad number considering the short 48 game season), and posted a 9-3-2 record with a 1.88 GAA and .922 save percentage (the last two stats were better than the Kings number one starter, Jonathan Quick). To compare, Wild goalie Niklas Backstrom had a 2.48 GAA and .909 save percentage, but, the Kings defensive core is a bit more polished than the Wild's.

The Kings are selling Bernier as a starting goalie. So that means LA will be asking for some kind of package involving a goalie prospect to backup Quick, and some combination of top prospects and high draft picks.

Clearly, the Wild are looking at backup options for if/when they should let Niklas Backstrom leave via free agency. They do not have the confidence in Josh Harding to take over as the number one, and they feel that Darcy Kuemper is still a year or two away from playing regularly in the NHL.

The fact remains, that the other two teams in this race (Toronto and Philadelphia) are very desperate for a goalie like Bernier. The Wild are desperate for a starter too, but not on the level like the two other squads (see Ilya Bryzgalov, James Reimer, and the word woof). Both those teams have the means for a deal like this, and would be more willing to part with their key prospects/draft picks to add Bernier.

Minnesota does not have its first round pick in this year's draft, as it was traded to Buffalo in the Jason Pominville deal. They used one of their top two goalie prospects, Matt Hackett, in the same deal, clearing the way for Kuemper to be the goalie of the future. Johan Gustafsson will be in the AHL next year, but he is a ways off from the NHL too. The prospect pool is still deep, but the type of prospects LA would want from Minnesota should clearly be stamped as "untouchable" (i.e. Mikael Granlund, Charlie Coyle, Jason Zucker, Jonas Brodin, and Matt Dumba).

Bottomline: Toronto, Philadelphia, and Minnesota are locked into a bidding war for Bernier. At some point, the two teams from the East will simply take the bidding past a point that will be beyond ridiculous. GM Chuck Fletcher needs to stop once it goes beyond that point. He should not part with Kuemper, any one of the "untouchable" prospects, and their draft picks (in fact, the Wild should be looking to move back into the first round).

Refrain from acquiring Jonathan Bernier. Get Backstrom to re-sign at a lower price, or find someone else to take the starting job (Marc-Andre Fleury is available). The asking price is too great.

There may not be a better option than Bernier, but you can find cheaper options who can still get the job done...

Follow Giles on Twitter @gilesferrell

Friday, June 21, 2013

Player Conversations: Superheros

For those of you who made frequent trips down to St. Paul this past year, you know that something that has to change in the Xcel Energy Center on game night, is the commercial break and intermission entertainment. I talked about that in my post on Hockey Wilderness a few weeks ago.

However, something they did get right was the video segment that was titled "Player Conversations". It was highly entertaining, especially since Zenon Konopka was featured in all of them (he is quite the comedian).

On a visit to the Wild website today, I came across these segments, and figured I would share this with you. This one is asking the players who is your favorite superhero. Enjoy.

Konopka's superhero is the best

Charlie Coyle loves the Hulk. Sometimes, I wonder if Coyle is secretly the Hulk given how he can just toss guys around on the ice.

Given my personal favorite superhero is Batman (its not even a contest, Batman is the best), special shout-outs to Cal Clutterbuck, Tom Gilbert, Zach Parise, and Clayton Stoner for agreeing with me.

The other player conversations can be found on Wild TV under the "Wild Features" category.

Follow Giles on Twitter @gilesferrell