Michael "Sources Close to the Situation" Russo had this in his notebook this morning:
According to sources, Fletcher has talked to Edmonton GM Steve Tambellini about power forward Dustin Penner, a four-time 20-goal scorer. He's got a year left at $4.25 million, and for the Wild, which is $950,000 from the salary-cap ceiling, to make any trade for a player of that price, it would have to give up salary in a deal.
So far, Fletcher seems hesitant to trade any significant players from his lineup because of the risk of fouling up chemistry.
After saying he is not a seller, being a buyer would be very, very nice to see. We aren't big into rumors, and we generally prefer to mock them than take them seriously, but when Russo reports it, we put some faith in it. Make the jump and let's discuss what this would mean to the Wild, and what they may need to give up to get Penner.
#27 / Left Wing / Edmonton Oilers
Sep 28, 1982
|2010 - Dustin Penner||60||21||17||38||-11||45||6||1||3||132|
They way I read this, the Wild have the chance to add a guy who is a prototypical power forward, a guy who is physical, and a guy who can score? Um... yes, please. He scores 20 goals a year for a bad Edmonton team. He currntly skates with Shawn Horcoff, no slouch, but also not the greatest center since Gretzky. Horcoff has 16 points in 38 games this season, and had just 36 in 77 games last season.
Put him on a line with Koivu? Maybe across from Havlat with Brodziak? On a line with Matt Cullen? Who knows, but any of those three is going to be a huge upgrade from Horcoff.
Why Edmonton would give up a guy with size, and with decent hands is a bit more complicated. A bit of a pariah in Edmonton, Penner is constantly the source of trade rumors. He is going to LA one week and to Tampa the next. They are in the middle of a rebuild, and he clearly doesn't fit. Thus, he is available.
As Russo points out, he still has a year on his deal at $4.25 million. That means it cannot be a simple player for pick / prospect deal. Thus, the comment about needing to move salary. Would that salary go back to Edmonton, or does Fletcher need to move someone else off the squad? Can he move someone else?
For a GM who is insistent on not disrupting the chemistry in the room, this would take some pretty big moves. Trust me, there are very few things in the NHL that are "deal breakers." This isn't one of them. If he can add a goal scorer, Fletcher will do it.
What Would it Take?
If salary needs to be moved, and if the concern is the extra year, you have to look at moving non-UFAs. Nick Schultz is an option that has been brought up in the past. Where he would go would be the biggest stumbling block. I don't know that Edmonton wants him in return, so it then becomes Schultz for some picks or prospects and then the Penner deal. Moving Schultz is a huge gamble on the room. He is very popular with his team mates, especially with guys like Brent Burns, who has to be re-signed soon.
Of course, fans are already mentioning Cam Barker. Don't count on that. Always see the deal from the other side. If you don't want Barker, why does someone else? Would be amazing to see that contract off loaded, but who takes it, knowing they have to pay him $3.083 million next year and then qualify him at a raise, no matter his performance, just to keep him around? Teams do not normally lineup to take bad contracts off your hands.
The deal to Edmonton could be relatively simple. They don't want him, the Wild do. That makes it easy. Maybe a reasonable price, even. You just never know. The stepping stones need to to be in place, first, and that is where the issues arrive. Moving salary without destroying your team, without disturbing the chemistry. It's a big time balancing act.
While it is exciting to read the Wild are interested in making an impact move, this is far from done. Don't get your hopes too far up. Be excited just to have something to talk about, first. Then, if this happens, we can all be excited together, OK?
How do YOU make it Happen?
You're the GM. What do you do? Who or what goes to Edmonton for Penner? UFAs? Prospects? Picks? Be specific.
How do free up the salary this year and next? Let's see you work the magic.