Kukla's Korner Hockey
by George Malik on 06/30/14 at 01:06 AM ET
The theory was that very few free agent players were actually going to meet with teams' coaches or general managers during the "wining and dining period"--which ends today--because the draft's location in Philadelphia would yield too much of a hubbub (see: players being chased down by the media as they go from hotel to hotel and meeting room to meeting room)...
But the Minneapolis Star-Tribune's Michael Russo reports that the seemingly inevitable marriage between Thomas Vanek and the Minnesota Wild will get a meet-and-greet kick in the pants on Monday:
With the free-agent market set to open Tuesday at 11 a.m. [Central Daylight Time], pending free agent Thomas Vanek was scheduled to sit down with Wild coach Mike Yeo late Sunday. General Manager Chuck Fletcher was not expected to be at the meeting.
For more than a year, Vanek has seemed destined to sign with the Wild. The 30-year-old former Gophers star turned down lucrative long-term contracts last season with the Buffalo Sabres and New York Islanders in order to become a free agent.
However, the Wild appears set to offer Vanek only a short-term contract, so he likely will have a tough decision to make Tuesday because it’s expected that he’ll have the chance to sign longer-term deals for more money with other teams.
But wait, there's more, especially in the, "WILD WILL SIGN EVERYBODEYZ" category:
The Wild also has showed significant interest in future Hall of Famer Jarome Iginla since the free-agency interview period opened Wednesday. Iginla, who has scored 460 goals and 1,167 points in 1,310 career games, scored 30 goals for the Bruins last season. He is hoping to return, but he is expected to become a free agent Tuesday — the day he turns 37.
The only question is if Vanek/Iginla is an either/or proposition for the Wild to offer contracts or if there’s room for both.
The Wild will be looking for a defenseman to replace free agent Clayton Stoner. Some defensemen available will include Willie Mitchell and Anton Stralman. The top free-agent defenseman on the market will be Matt Niskanen, who had 46 points with the Pittsburgh Penguins last season. But he is seeking a seven-year contract at more than $6 million annually. Fletcher has said he is hesitant to sign players to “super-long” contracts.
Remind me again why Wild owner Craig Leipold locked out the players because he said player costs were far too high?
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Paul Kukla founded Kukla’s Korner in 2005 and the site has since become the must-read site on the ‘net for all the latest happenings around the NHL.
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