Kukla's Korner Hockey
Entries with the tag: chuck fletcher
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:
One really begets the other here, so bear with me:
Via Chris Nichols, Minnesota Wild GM Chuck Fletcher spoke with the Minneapolis Star-Tribune's Michael Russo about the free agent wining and dining period, which is clearly very good in terms of sensing the "fit" for players with various organizations, but isn't necessarily fascinating in terms of the way that it's driving players' "market values" into the stratosphere...
Cue Fletcher: “I’ve had the opportunity to speak with several agents of pending UFAs and try to get a sense of who may have interest in coming to Minnesota and talk about different roles and whether what we have to offer them fits from a role and an ice time standpoint with what they’re looking at. There’s been some ones that may work out, there’s been some ones that clearly won’t work out. But that’s good. I wasn’t really involved in the shopping period last year, but it’s been great. It gives you the sense where instead it used to be July 1 it was such a battle to sign guys. You were competing with other teams to sign players. It wasn’t like you were spending time interviewing players to get their idea of an ideal role. We weren’t having these conversations you might assume we were having. A lot of times you had to make quick decisions and you were throwing money around. So the great thing about the shopping period is you can say, hey this is what we have. This is the type of role. This is the type of fit. Does that interest you?”
And the lack of consensus as to who-goes-where from picks 1 to 4 to the utter mess of players who could be drafted anywhere from 5th to 40th means that we could see a flurry of trades to move up and/or down (and a first round that takes four or five hours starting tonight at 7), as NHL.com's Dan Rosen notes...
When player agent Neil Sheehy's left International Falls, Minnesota prior to the draft, you know the wining and dining period is underway. The Minneapolis Star-Tribune's Michael Russo reports that the WIld plan on speaking to the agent who once got a free flight back home (after the Wild and Red Wings made their pitches to Ryan Suter) by owner Craig Leipold on Thursday in Philly, and it sounds like the Wild are aiming for the free agent stars:
It’s not believed the Wild had any formal sit-downs yet, but General Manager Chuck Fletcher contacted at least the agents of defensemen Matt Niskanen and Willie Mitchell, goal scorer Thomas Vanek and center Paul Stastny, NHL sources confirmed. At a minimum, Fletcher is expected to meet with Niskanen’s agent, Neil Sheehy, and Vanek’s agent, Steve Bartlett, while they’re all in Philadelphia this week for the NHL draft.
Vanek, 30, the former Gophers star who lives in Stillwater, might have to consider a one- to three-year deal from the Wild if he wants to play at home in Minnesota.
That’s because it’s clear the Wild has significant interest in Niskanen, who lives in Tower, Minn. The 27-year-old right-shot blue-liner had a career year with the Pittsburgh Penguins, scoring 10 goals and finishing 13th among defensemen with 46 points. He led all defensemen with a plus-33 rating.
The question is whether Vanek would forgo potential long-term security elsewhere for the opportunity to stay in Minnesota. After all, he turned down a seven-year, $49 million contract offer from the Islanders last season and an even more lucrative offer from the Sabres.
Continued with talk about Willie Mitchell returning to Minnesota, and again, Russo reported that the players represented by top agents probably won't be in Philadelphia (though it would not surprise me if a little man in a top hat calling himself AnDay OyleBay makes an appearance ), it appears to be time for each and every team interested in a free agent to talk contract...Cheesesteak.
from Dan Rosen of NHL.com,
A lot of general managers will say they look at the Detroit Red Wings as the model for consistency as a franchise. As a younger GM with experience working in the League for several teams, does that play with you as well and do you want to model your team after the Red Wings?
"I think so, but it's a pretty tough path to duplicate their success. Their success has been phenomenal going back over two decades of just winning. But when you think of Detroit, you think of how well they draft and how well they develop. A lot of teams draft well, but not every team develops the players well after they draft them. The way Detroit develops players is tremendous. They don't rush their players. They make them take all the necessary steps to get to the NHL. You look every year, they have good young talent. It's just phenomenal.
"I don't think we're anywhere near what the Red Wings have done, but certainly that's what we're trying to do. In today's day and age you have to develop your own talent. It's just too hard to find top talent. I mean, we were fortunate to sign Parise and Suter, but you can't expect to go into the market and get the top players every summer; it just doesn't work that way -- so you really have to draft well and you have to develop your own talent. In a salary-cap system you have to make sure you have good young players that can contribute playing every year. It's just a necessity in the salary cap world."
more Q & A...
from Ben Goessling of the Pioneer Press,
Though the Wild are in the midst of the worst three-month stretch in franchise history, finishing the 2011-12 season with a roster decimated by injuries, it appears their leadership structure will remain intact.
Both general manager Chuck Fletcher and coach Mike Yeo will return for the 2012-13 season, according to a person with knowledge of the situation.
The third-year GM and the rookie coach oversaw the Wild’s rise to the league’s best record in December, culminating with a franchise-record seventh consecutive road win against Phoenix on Dec. 10. Injuries soon caught up with a team already challenged to score goals, however, and the Wild have gone 9-22-7 since then.
Ask any Minnesota Wild fan what has been the most impressive highlight of Chuck Fletcher’s reign as GM, and the answer you get back will most likely revolve around the influx of new talent in our farm system. Mikael Granlund, Johan Larsson, and Jonas Brodin highlight a recent draft haul that now includes newly acquired (via trade) Charlie Coyle - all of whom give hope and optimism for the near future of our team.
With good reason too. When Fletcher arrived in our state in 2009, the cupboard was essentially bare. Former general manager Doug Risebrough had attempted to placate a demanding fan base by going into “win now” mode, even though history proves that very few NHL expansion franchises have immediate success. Sure, the unexpected run to the 2003 Western Conference Finals had St. Paul buzzing - but poor roster structure and a short-term vision would cause the Wild to be stuck in the mud for several years.
from Kevin Allen of USA TODAY,
...Fletcher has sent a message to players and fans that he embraces the repairman function of his job.
Sure, every GM is trying to draft and plan for future success, but this is the salary cap era and there is no patience for five-year rebuilding plans. And there shouldn’t be, not when two-thirds of NHL teams are spending roughly the same amount of money for their rosters. You have to change up your roster on the fly. The mandate in the salary cap era is to rebuild and repair at the same time.
That’s why I like that Fletcher is showing aggressiveness in Minnesota. He succeeded Doug Risebrough, a true gentleman, highly respected around the league, but conservative in his approach to managing a team.
When Risebrough was in charge, it seemed as if the franchise never was able to escape the expansion team mentality. The Wild always seemed to be looking to be competitive up the road, instead of today.
Michael Russo of Russo’s Rants does an extended Q & A with the Wild GM.
Q: Have you thought about whether Havlat will play with Koivu or maybe Bouchard? Also, Havlat’s biggest problem might be his willingness to go into the gritty areas. Is there a way to help keep him healthy by putting him with a digging winger like Clutterbuck or Owen Nolan?
A: We’ve talked about lots of different scenarios if the roster looked like this and that, but it’ll be important to see who he finds chemistry with right off the bat. But you’ve hit the nail on the head. Havlat’s a competitive player. He’s a player who plays hard every game and because of his skill level, he attracts the attention of other team’s best defenders. Unfortunately, there’s not much you can do. It’s no different than Gaborik or Crosby or Malkin or Ovechkin. These high-skilled guys compete hard every night and get into situations that lead to injury.