Latest on the Wild, Blues and Blue Jackets – May 11, 2013.

What off-season moves could be in store for the Minnesota Wild and St. Louis Blues? How are contract talks going between the Blue Jackets and Sergei Bobrovsky?

Are more big changes coming to the Wild?

Are more big changes coming to the Wild?

STARTRIBUNE.COM: Michael Russo reports Minnesota Wild GM Chuck Fletcher has big decisions to make this off-season but only $9 million in cap space. Topping the list is addressing their goaltending, as 35-year-old, injury-hobbled starter Niklas Backstrom is due to become a UFA this summer. Russo listed possible options for replacement, noting Mike Smith and Ryan Miller could be too expensive and doubts they’ll have interest in Roberto Luongo. The Blues might be willing to move either Jaroslav Halak or Brian Elliott, the Ducks could shop either Jonas Hiller or Viktor Fasth, while the Kings could shop Jonathan Bernier.

Russo also believes the Wild must boost their offense, an opinion shared by his colleague Chip Scoggins. They must also decide if they’ll re-sign pending UFAs Matt Cullen and Pierre-Marc Bouchard. Fletcher could also get into the trade market, which “could include shopping players such as Devin Setoguchi, Cal Clutterbuck, Tom Gilbert, Zenon Konopka and seldom-used Nate Prosser.” Compliance buyouts are also an option. Dany Heatley would be a prime candidate but he underwent season-ending shoulder surgery and could be ineligible. Russo also speculated Fletcher could approve Jason Pominville and Devin Setoguchi later in the summer regarding contract extensions. Gilbert could also be a buyout candidate.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: I detailed possible moves by the Wild in a recent Soapbox update. If they’re to re-sign or replace Backstrom, re-up other key players and add another scoring forward, they have little choice but to shed salary via trades or buyouts. I would also caution against them drawing too much upon their young talent as trade bait for established veterans. Dealing for Bernier could be the best option, as of the goalies Russo listed, he seems the most likely to be traded this summer, and could prove the most affordable. As for their UFA forwards, I think they’ll try to re-sign Cullen, but Bouchard’s injury history likely means they’ll part ways with him.

STLTODAY.COM: Bernie Miklasz calls upon Blues management to add “a proven finisher” to their lineup. Given the poor performances by Andy McDonald and Chris Stewart against the Kings, he wonders how much management will offer them to re-sign.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Expect more postmortems from the St.Louis media in the coming days about the Blues off-season plans. I doubt McDonald or fellow UFA Jordan Leopold are re-signed, and I wouldn’t be surprised if Stewart (who’s an RFA this summer) is shopped during the Entry Draft weekend. It also wouldn’t surprise me if Jaroslav Halak or Brian Elliott become trade bait. The Blues biggest priorities are re-signing RFA blueliners Alex Pietrangelo and Kevin Shattenkirk,

COLUMBUS DISPATCH: Aaron Portzline earlier this week interviewed Blue Jackets GM Jarmo Kekalainen, who said he doesn’t anticipate any problems re-signing goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: One comparable I’ve heard suggested is Halak’s four-year, $15 million deal, but with Bobrovsky nominted for the Vezina, it could be higher than that.

6 Comments

  1. I could see a Bernier to the Wild happening as well. I would hate to lose him as a Kings fan but understand that it will happen sooner than later with Quicks extension last summer. This makes alot of sense cause Bernier is ready to be a number 1 goalie and won’t cost the wild much in cap hit ($3-3.5 mill per), and the Kings could use some prospects to replenish the system and the Wild have a ton of them.

  2. I can see the Wild try to buyiout Heatly and put Setoguchi out for trade. I would like to see Bflo trade Stafford for Seto – two underachievers in a new environment – but who knows. The Wild goalie situation and injuries effected their performance in the 1st round and hopefully they will make the adjustments next year.

    I really like the Blues and I think they just need a couple of tweaks – trade for Vanek and go after someone like Wheeler, Read or Condra or even Clark to add that extra scoring threat.

  3. I think the Wild will retain Backstrom. There isn’t a great market for goalies right now, especially if Luongo will hit the block as a “anything in return” player, or possibly be bought out. So, Backstrom would be better off re-signing with a team that is building very strong.

    I’d actually let Bouchard and Cullen walk. Cullen will be older and be able to do less, so he either re-signs for half of what he currently made, or he goes. Let the young players take the role, and re-sign Clutterbuck.

    Blues are a growing team. They could try and land someone like Vanek. They have the cap space (even after re-signing the key three players in Pietrangelo, Shattenkirk, and Berglund, and have the assets as well.

  4. blues should go hard after vanek. he could be what carter was for the kings. the blues need a difference maker and proven sniper to put games away, vanek could be both those things. he’d be pricey, i’d think tarasenko or schwartz plus a conditional first (reliant on vanek resigning with the blues) which would be comparable to what the kings gave up for carter.

    the blues have to get a lot more out of berglund. with berglund and backes st louis has a quality 1a and 1b center pairing but if berglund isn’t going, he was nearly invisible against LA, backes looks out of place as their top center. they need to decide if berglund is their guy. and if he’s not they need to move him out and find a suitable compliment for backes, especially with berglund becoming an RFA this summer and surely looking for a big raise.

    • I would like to see Vanek traded to the Blues for Stewart and Schwartz. And then try to unload Stafford and Myers. I see the Sabres got rid of Kevyn Adams and James Patrick – while I like James Patrick, I really didn’t think Adams was a better special team coach than Brian McCutcheon as it looked like the Sabres regressed over the past couple of years. I understand that Teppo will still be retained and I hope Rolston hires someone who is a known quantity working with special teams.

  5. I’d love the habs to pick up Clutterbuck if he is available. He would be a perfect fit ona line with Gallagher