At 10 PM CDT last night, the NHL compliance buyout window officially opened. The first real surprise of the buyout window came this morning when the Lightning bought out one of their franchise cornerstones, Vincent Lecavalier.
There has been very little news from the Wild since they re-signed Niklas Backstrom on Monday. The team has been doing its annual road tour this week, but one would hardly consider that news worthy (the road tour ends tonight with the annual summer bash at the Oval in Roseville).
This morning, TSN's hockey guru Bob McKenzie had two offseason related tweets that were about the Minnesota Wild. They are not really that shocking, but it gives us a better idea as to what the front office is actually thinking as we head into the draft on Sunday.
MIN has a lot of balls in air. Heatley can't be bought out, Wild need to shed some $. Tom Gilbert in play but if no takers, possible buyout.— Bob McKenzie (@TSNBobMcKenzie) June 27, 2013
MIN talking extension with Clutterbuck but also talking trade involving him. UFA P-M Bouchard won't be back; Matt Cullen probably not back.— Bob McKenzie (@TSNBobMcKenzie) June 27, 2013
With the very thin free agent market for defenseman, it makes a lot of sense for Fletcher to try and shop Gilbert. Unluckily for Fletcher, Gilbert is coming off a horrible year and has a cap hit of $4 million next year. One would figure the Wild would try and give him away for next to nothing, but the decreasing cap in 2013-14 may have killed any possibly deal for him (who wants to take on a $4M cap hit for a struggling defenseman?). A buyout seems more possible for Gilbert, just to clear his $4M off the cap.
The second tweet is a bit more informative than the first. The team is trying to lock Cal Clutterbuck into an extension, but at the same time are talking with other teams about a trade for him. Clutterbuck has a lot of interest around the league and the team would get a good return should they decide to trade him. But should the Wild sign Clutterbuck to an extension, that would almost be certainly be following a compliance buyout to Tom Gilbert (unless they signed Clutterbuck to an extension, then immediately traded him). The team can't keep both Clutterbuck and Gilbert.
Pierre-Marc Bouchard was gone the second the Wild were eliminated in early May. So that fact is no surprise to any of us. However, there has been a lot of support for bringing back Matt Cullen. It now seems like a lock that he will not be back either, given the Wild's small cap space and the fact that the market for centers keeps growing daily. Cullen was on KFAN with Russo on Tuesday, and you got the indication that he knew he wasn't coming back. He can probably make something similar to the $3.5M salary he was making here, on the free agent market.
What does Chuck Fletcher end up doing in the next week? Who knows at this point. The amount of big decisions he has to make in the next week is rather ridiculous. It's not easy being in his shoes right now.
Lets all hope he makes the right decisions...