Latest Wild and Panthers Speculation – May 2, 2018

by | May 2, 2018 | Rumors | 46 comments

Check out the latest on the Minnesota Wild and Florida Panthers in your NHL rumor mill.


THE ATHLETIC: In a recent mailbag segment, Michael Russo was asked about possible candidates to replace Chuck Fletcher as general manager of the Minnesota Wild. Nashville Predators assistant GM Paul Fenton is considered the frontrunner and has already been interviewed for the position. Other possibilities include Toronto Maple Leafs assistant GM Kyle Dubas, former San Jose Sharks and LA Kings GM Dean Lombardi and New Jersey Devils assistant GM Tom Fitzgerald.

Could the Minnesota Wild consider trading away Eric Staal this summer? (Photo via NHL Images)

Asked about which current Wild players could have the most trade value if the new GM opts for a major rebuild, Heika suggested Jason Zucker, Charlie Coyle, Nino Niederreiter and Jonas Brodin. Heika also doubted the Wild will get into the bidding for New York Islanders free-agent center John Tavares, citing in part the Wild’s need to shed considerable cap space to sign him.

Heika was also asked if this was the right time for the new Wild GM to shop center Eric Staal, who’s coming off a 42-goal season. He’d be hesitant unless the new GM can get a significant return.

STAR-TRIBUNE.COM: Chris Hine believes the Wild’s new GM doesn’t need to let big contracts hamper him from making a significant move this summer. He notes Thomas Vanek’s contract buyout comes off the books next season while Mikko Koivu’s new contract ($5.5-million cap hit) is cheaper than the $6.75-million of his current one.

Hine also suggests Charlie Coyle as a potential trade candidate, as clearing his $3.2 million cap hit could alleviate pressure to make other changes to the roster. He also proposed moving Eric Staal as his trade value will be high this summer. The Wild are expected to re-sign restricted free agents Jason Zucker and Matt Dumba, though they could trade one or the other if contract talks prove difficult.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Whoever takes over as the Wild’s new GM will be expected to shake up a roster that is considered an playoff underachiever. However, I don’t expect them to pursue Tavares.

Moving out higher-salaried veterans with no-movement clauses (Koivu, Ryan Suter, Zach Parise) likely isn’t an option. The 33-year-old Staal has a year left on his contract ($3.5 million cap hit) with a modified no-trade clause. While his trade value has improved, there’s no certainty he’ll be dealt.

Younger Wild players such as Zucker, Coyle and Niederreiter will attract considerably more interest in the trade market. Coyle surfaced in the rumor mill leading up to the trade deadline and could be targeted by clubs seeking skilled depth at forward. 


SUN-SENTINEL.COM: Matthew DeFranks reports the Florida Panthers could seek an experienced defenseman, a winger for Vincent Trocheck’s line and a No. 3 goaltender this summer. GM Dale Tallon said his club has room in its budget to pursue high-end free agents.

DeFranks lists Toronto’s James van Riemsdyk, Vegas’ James Neal and Boston’s Rick Nash as possible free-agent winger options. Potentially available free-agent defensemen include Washington’s John Carlson, Detroit’s Mike Green and Columbus’ Ian Cole. They’re expected to have over $9 million of cap room and could have more if the cap ceiling significantly increases for next season. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Panthers narrowly missed qualifying for the playoffs this season. They’re loaded with good young talent and have the potential to become a perennial postseason club. If they’re willing to invest some of their cap space in this summer’s free-agent market, they could land one or two good veteran additions. 



  1. I think the Wild are fine. Jets we’re a tough first round without Suter and a rushed Spurgeon . I would keep the roster as is. Coyle is young and a big body also hurt last year with a broken leg. A couple of tweaks at the trade deadline

    • I agree with you that if Coyle is what the roster purge begins, some teams will get a high upside guy who will eventually reach his potential as a top six power guy.

      • With Staal 1 year from UFA status trading his replacement in Coyle might not be sound.

        Coyle falls into my monster forward class at 6’3″ or taller or 215+ lbs. For me, that’s a min of 400 NHL games needed for 80% of players in that category. He just played his 419th NHL regular season game. His real breakthrough comes next season if healthy. It may have happened this year if not for starting late & battling through it all season.

        I’m not saying Min won’t rade him. If I’m Min I do very little. Cap friendly has 22 players signed & 7.5 mil in cap space available today so that’s 12 to 15 after the cap increase, another 3 when they but out Ennis.

        Zucker & Dumba are RFA’s needing to be signed more than enough money to do that & buy a UFA Dman which is all that is needed having been forced to send Scandella out due to expansion. As always de Haan is my 1st choice as a LD he fits their need perfectly.

        The owner didn’t need to change anything. Change for the sack of change isn’t always the answer in fact in this situation I don’t see it changing anything. Minny will be better just healthy; Parise, Coyle, Niederreiter, all missed significant time, letting the youth advance, Greenway, Kunin, EE, Dumba, hell even Brodin & Coyle are just reaching full development stage & have far more to give.

        Now a new GM gets to step in & take credit for what was already happening. There is no shame in losing in the 1st round unless you lose to an inferior team. This may have happened to Minny once the rest of the time they lost to a far better team, often simply due to injury issues.

  2. *****OFF Topic***** In Canada there is much said about Canada team and all Canadians will cheer for the Winnipeg Jets. I live in Winnipeg and cheer for Boston. Never bought into cheering for a team solely because there in Canada. I never see a day i would cheer for Montreal. Sorry.
    So which team has the Most Canadians and most USA players.
    Team Canada= Vegas 17 (wpg 11 5th)
    Team USA = Bos, Pitts 13 (wpg 11 3rd)
    Team Sweden = Nash 6
    Team Finland = Nash 4
    Team Russ = TB, Wash 3
    Team Cze = Bos, Wash 3
    Team Netherland = Nash 3
    Team International = Wash 9 (countries)

    In all 18 different countries are represented on the 8 playoff teams.
    For me I cheer for Boston to Win and for PK to lose. If you want to cheer for your most country men, have at it.

    • I live in Ontario and I have cheered for Pittsburgh for 32 years. Granted they are the third furthest team from where I live and Detroit and Toronto are the only ones closer and that will be the day I cheer for one or both of them.

      • Hi Deee
        Where in Ontario do you live that Pittsburgh is 3rd closest to you….if you are in the GTA … should be Det, Buff, Tor as closest. If nearer Det(Windsor)…. should be Det ! Clb, Buff…. if North or Eastern Ontario…. Tor,Ott, Buff, Mon all closer

    • I am a hockey fan 1st & cheer for my favourite team or teams. Now in international play, I bleed red & white.

      Even being a Bruins fan in Vancouver for that playoff run I cheered for Vancouver my local team but I wasn’t unhappy or upset they lost but would have been happy for the city had they won even at the expense of my favourite team losing.

      I consider Vancouver my hometown even though I travelled a ton as a kid, Airforce brat, & have lived on Vancouver Island longer now. I spent my formative years there 19 to 35 & spend almost every other week there on & off for years.

      • Bruin fan cheering for Vancouver is a Canucks fan not a Boston fan.

    • I don’t know, there’s just something about seeing a canadian franchise go far. It’s been far too long. That crowd last night gave me chills. The announcer was not wrong when he said the crowd scored their 3rd and game-tying goal.

      Striker, I too live on Vancouver Island for over 20 years now, but I grew up in Ottawa. I am and will forever be a Sens fan. I like to see Vancouver do well, but when they play each other, I want my Sens to pull out the victory.
      I agree though, I would find it a little sickening to see either Montreal or Toronto win the cup, but all the other canadian teams I like to see do well.
      Go Peg Go

    • interesting. I am a hometown Pens fan and always will be. Love the work vegas did and they immediately became my second. But the nationality of players I find mostly irrelevant with the exception of enjoying the overall worldwide growth of the game, especially in the US under Bettman. It has nothing to do with the nationality of these growing hockey markets and everything to do with the growing talent pool making the games more fun to watch. More and More actual talent will help phase out the goons (almost done) and the “grinders” (4th line guys who play because they offer fake intangibles or are good “PK’ers” which in itself is a made up skill set. It’s a long game but I’ve already witnessed it in the Burgh region with the talent being drafted out of here. Mathews is such a great example as well.

      • Killing a penalty is not a fake skill set. Killing a penalty takes determination, and a willingness to do something for the team that does not show on the score sheet. Many offensive-minded players are not deployed on the penalty kill for this very reason.

      • The game is now getting built on speed, puck possession & skill, the normal sized human with solid skills is replacing the plodding clutch & grab neandrathals of yesteryear, from about 1992 till their demise starting very slowly following the 2004-05 lockout.

        This is awesome for hockey. The new breed of GM will need decades to weed out the Lombardi, Armstrong’s of the world, same for coaching fraternity. Until the mentality of those in charge catches up to where the NHL is going, it will be slow drawn out process. Many will be dragged along kicking, screaming & opposing.

        I can’t wait till we come out of the next Lockout. I hate to see the NHL have shut down but Gary Bettman only needs to support of 12 teams to force his changes on both the NHL & NHLPA & legislate out the stupidity of many, slowly as able.

        The NHL game has never been better & it’s getting better now rapidly. The US invasion of talent is right around the corner. You can thank Gary Bettman, Bill Dailey & their group for where we are & where we are going. All teams will eventually have 3 solid scoring lines, teams will roll lines 5 on 5 even more than they do now. We already have too many goaltenders available worldwide for only 31 teams & the level of play at every level; the NHL, AHL, ECHL, etc., is going to just keep getting better & better.

        All you need do is look at Vegas & what given quality icetime to players who couldn’t get it on their former teams can do when given such. It’s a great time to be a hockey fan.

      • Bravo, Striker.
        With demographics & internationalization there are likely more young players per spot than in original 6 days. Pervasive video makes good coaching & role models available to all, not just the lucky few whose peewee coaches actually knew something. The recent changes have opened up the game to smaller players…my team, the Lightning, has probably benefited more than most as St Louis opened eyes here. The days of someone as talented as Tyler Johnson or Yanni Gourde remaining undrafted are probably over. But I sure hope you are wrong about another lockout being required.

      • I think we will need at least 3 more lockouts over the next 25 or so years to get a proper viable model in place, unfortunately.

        The last 2 lockouts have radically changed the NHL’s business model but it still favours the have teams & the players far too greatly. Teams shouldn’t have to make the playoffs to turn a profit if running at 90% capacity & well sponsored corporately during the regular season but that’s the model for the middle 15 teams in the NHL. Even making the playoffs doesn’t guarantee a profit for many below that.

        You can’t fix everything that ailed the NHL’s business model in 2 lockouts. The growth of the game is also helping & the 1st real national cable deal will coincide with the start of the NHL after the next lockout.

        When the top 4 teams in the NHL make more money than what was the previous 26 teams before Vegas was added is a serious problem. Those organizations couldn’t make that much money if not for the growth of the game & significantly better revenue sharing is needed.

        Unfortunately, that’s how collective bargaining works in a flawed system. The players could have extended the current CBA, got Olympic participation but wanted more; specifically a serious reduction in escrow, to do so. Escrow isn’t going away it’s the only way to maintain the players agreed to share of revenue, HRR.

        HRR will be more encompassing picking up missed revenue streams, revenue sharing significantly improved, players will even see UFA status sooner, although not sure how much lower we can go than the current 7-year model but perhaps another year, maybe 2 depending upon how everything else plays out.

        Not a chance the NHLPA is getting more in the next CBA at least in the 50/50 share, they will get less, thinking 47.5 but as revenue is going up, HRR to encompass more, it will be more if that makes any sense.

        Det’s payroll according to Wikipedia in 2003-04 the year before the 1st lockout was over 77 mil, that was almost 15 years ago.

      • offensive minded players arn’t deployed not because they cant do it, but they are more talented and dont need to waste there breath doing this. pk’ing being a skill is a myth that is in place to help keep the idea that “tough” players are needed over skilled players. coaches have to use these players as the talent pool is still growing so they throw them a bone and tell them they are special.

      • Kinda doesn’t make sense. So you can be offensively gifted, but not defensively gifted?

        Do you really think Taresenko could go out and kill penalties? I certainly don’t.

    • I two live I winnolipeg and cheer the Sens. Yet if your not cheering the jets while there not your teams direct opposition you missing out on alot of fun.

      However I will cheer canadian teams above american teams simply because of the financial boon my countrymen receive. Things like bars and restaurants make quite the coin when a team near them is in the playoffs.

      I even cheered toronto. Being a Sens that isn’t suppose to be but the bars in restaurants do quite well in Ottawa even when the leafs are going and the Sens are out

    • I have childhood favourite teams in Toronto followed by Montreal, but going into my adult life Toronto was.. how to put his nicely … A tire fire set on top of a garbage heap that was put out with fertilizer, and Montreal while fun to watch during certain runs, were not a great team to watch on a night by night basis as they have often required excellent goaltending to be remotely competitive, which isn’t great to watch year over year.

      So slowly you just become a fan in general, and I found myself cheering simply based on players you feel like deserve a win, teams that were well built, or just great stories.

      I cheered for Pittsburgh in their first win, because Crosby deserved to cement his legacy after all the injury issues, and Kessel deserved a win for all the abuse he took simply for being great, and not franchise level elite.

      Right now I’m cheering for Washington, as I think Ovie really deserves to get a win, Vegas because that’s just a fun story, and who wouldn’t love to see flower get a conne smythe? and the other two series I’m just enjoying great teams taking it to each other. I like all 4 teams for different reasons, so I don’t have too much of a rooting interest.

      I don’t have any real hated teams right now, since the teams I’m most attached too haven’t been good enough to have a great rival. Boston maybe, but for the most part it’s hard to dislike a team Lead by Bergeron, and now that Lucic is elsewhere they have more of a likable villain in Marchand, as he is entertaining, even if you root against him.

      • Ovi deserves a win when he decides to play a complete game. See that footage on the Crosby goal in game 2? Looked like he was on a Sunday afternoon family skate!

    • As an Oiler fan, who lives in the Calgary area, I CAN NOT cheer for the Flames no matter who they are playing. In fact it is also hard for me to cheer for the Canucks and Leafs.
      On a side note ever since Moog was traded to the Bruins back in the 80’s they quickly became the second team I cheer for. So when it comes to the NHL I am really not patriotic.

    • Good for you Caper! Keep cheering for the other guys! Canadian people cheer for Canadian based teams because the city they are in is in Canada! Understand? All teams have diverse line ups whic is great. But that’s not the point. A Canadian based team plays in and represents the Canadian market. See the excitement in Winnipeg? You do live there don’t you? Do you honestly believe there is as much excitement in Canada when there are no Canadian teams left? It is not a difficult concept to understand that people who live in Canada would like to see a Canadian city win a Stanley Cup? You are allowed to wear your heart on your sleeve in life sometimes!

      • I hope Canada goes through 20+ more years never winning a cup! That would be awesome!

  3. Unless Rick Nash is going to sign for less than 4 mill per there are 31 teams that should stay far away from him this summer. I still believe the Panthers are going to do something big this summer. Like maybe the Islanders sign and trade Tavares to Florida for Trocheck and Bjorgstrom. Something like that. The Panthers have a lot of players that can play centre and a lot of teams need a centre. They have options.

    • Rick Nash will be getting more than 4 mil per. At 34 to start next season I assume he will have 8 to 10 teams willing to pay him money & terms similar to Marleau’s deal in Tor give or take 500K or so.

      Meddlesome ownership flip-flopping around hurt Florida. Did they really need to use the 4 Dman format in the expansion draft? Was protecting Petrovic smarter than keeping Marchesseault & not sacrificing Smith to lose those 2 players & salaries? Now they are going to go out & spend more monies to replace those 2 players for lesser players.

      Trochek isn’t being sacrificed for Tavares. He’s as good as Tavares now & has 4 more years at 4.75. If he got 1st unit ice time as opposed to 2nd in Florida he would get far more than the 75 points he posted last season. He did so without any wingers. Barkov got the only 2 they have in Huberdeau & Dadanov, although moving Bjugstad to RW late in the season allowed for almost 2 full lines. Florida was still 1 player short of making a solid top 6.

      This is a stud in the making & only 25 in July. Next season he may well finish in the top 10 in scoring pushing 85+ points & he is a solid 2-way player, even killing penalties, a force with an engine that just won’t stop. He’s not being traded anytime soon.

      Now coming out of his contract after the lockout who knows where or what might happen to him but that’s a long way off.

      • perhaps FLA calls MIN for Nino Neds..

    • Rick Nash will be signed but at a discount.

      • What’s a discount?

      • $6M* 3 w/o signing bonus and w/o trade protection is best offer IMHO… but then again….. crazy Lou signed a high signing bonus Kaiden contract at same rate for a 38 year old…. who knows

      • Being under 35 Nash’s signing bonus would be considered salary for the purposes of the cap hit in the season paid. The only difference is it’s paid out on July 1st regardless of if there are games or not.

        Only players on ELC’s & or 1 year over 35 deals can have their bonus structures potentially deferred if earned & required.

      • A discount meaning he will not get what he thinks. Mostly because he has a good defensive game and not as much offensive skill as he used to. Since you seem to think there are no need for defensive minded players anymore. i.e., effective penalty killers, and a need for umpteen lockouts to phase these players out of the game I find it incredibly interesting that you have to ask.

    • You don’t see sign and trades in NHL. Nobody is going to give up key members on their team to acquire a player that will be UFA in 2 months. Tavares wants to go to a winning team and wouldn’t agree to something like that.

  4. as an independent Sens fan and closet Isles fan – It shouldn’t astound me that two fan bases can see the Wilson hit (hits) from completely opposite perspectives. But they do. And these are all hockey fans. How does the NHL and Perros get this right when even fans can’t agree. This shouldn’t be NBA reffing. This should be easier to police. If you put yourself in either team’s jersey for half a second and watch the hit….ughhhh… Lyle do a poll.

    • I’m a neutral fan, and yeah, from one angle it looked legit, but from another the head looks to get hit first and he does move the shoulder from low to high (not that uncommon though in terms of technique). I’d say he gets a game suspension. The guy does have a broken jaw, does he not?

      • He does. And having watched Chris Neil skirt and cross the line for years and never get suspended – I’m sympathetic to Pens fans. (every team has their villains)

    • I’m not a Caps fan fully neutral.

      Here is a condensed version of my post on Dobbers Daily Ramblings.

      “That hit by Wilson is suspendable & he is a repeat offender. I said no to a suspension to Dumoulin as Dumoulin moved at the last second making the head contact potentially accidental & I stress potentially. Backstrom already had Dumoulin so how is Wilson joining the contact a hockey play, doesn’t that pull him out of position 2 players hitting the same player?

      In this hit on ZAR, Wilson is coasting so it’s certainly not charging but he has ZAR lined up for over 40 feet, can see he’s crouched over & has time to make sure not only that he gets low enough to make shoulder to shoulder contact but doesn’t take the head as primary point of contact. ZAR doesn’t turn away, Wilson does a very good job of making sure it doesn’t look predatory but with all that time why didn’t he adjust his path to make sure he takes the shoulder 1st.

      Unless the NHL eliminates hitting to hurt these types of hits are going to continue. Wilson coming in to hit ZAR that hard isn’t a hockey play unless your goal is to eliminate the player from the game. I like hard-hitting hockey but not predatory hitting to hurt. I wish the NHL would adopt the standard used in the WJC’s. There should be only 3 reasons we need to check someone, eliminate the player from the puck, puck from the player or player from the play. Those are hockey plays. Leaving a player unable to continue to play isn’t a hockey play.

      Wilson is a good hockey player, a huge physical presence & great skater for a man his size. He doesn’t need to play this way to be just as effective. Once the NHL gets nailed with its concussion lawsuit in 5 to 7 years just like the NFL it will change, in the meantime we see players eliminated prematurely from the game with long-term issues from something that stems from the neanderthal history of the game that is still alive & well.”

      I give Wilson 3 games. He needs to know that choosing to try & hit someone like this isn’t acceptable, he’s walking the line & spending to much time on the wrong side of it.

      • I disagree Reese was looking right at him and decided to go low if he stays up it’s just two guys destroying each other. Wilson’s shoulder hits Reese’s shoulder and than slides up to his head. Was a hockey play gone bad but tell me how Kucherov wasn’t suspended.

    • No ifs ands or butts …. must be suspended. That should have been 5 and a game … 5 min PP locks win for Pens. Instead they are stunned by call and shortly after ; Caps tie. Then to ad insult to injury…. Wilson trip no call… that leads to the Ovechkin goal and win…. not sour grapes …. fact. 2 Games at least… or the very next game he’s gunning for a headshot at Crosby…. unnacceptable

      • Well, it should have at least been 2. The head was the primary point of contact. I get that the officials can’t see it well enough live to make the right call. at ice level at full speed with players in play, it’s impossible but watching the film at full speed, slow motion, from different angles it’s obvious.

        He’s not getting a hearing to be told let’s not do that again. Ha-ha! Some form of suspension is coming. It’s the playoffs & the assumed formula is 1 playoff game is worth 3 regular season games, unwritten rule. I give him 3. Players need to know that this type of hit isn’t acceptable & he is a repeat offender that just keeps walking the tightrope.

  5. Kyle “Doogie Howser” Dubas is staying in Toronto.

  6. Striker if your love of the lockout is an answer to my observation that penalty killing is not a fake skill then you misunderstand my point. I in fact agree with you that the Bergman era has led to the decline of the clutch and grab; and thankfully so. However, today’s penalty killer still needs to be skillful because today’s power play specialist has the skills you covet; and again thankfully so. I love a skilled, fast paced game as much as the next guy. However, I think the defensive part of the game will always be embraced by management and coaching. They have jobs to keep. Don’t forget that part of it. Rule changes can better facilitate the new game you, and most of us want. Work stoppages are not necessary to see this happen. Case in point, 4 on 4 coincidental minors started because of Edmonton’s exciting brand of hockey; not a work stoppage. Granted the salary cap has been very successful but this could have been implemented without losing an entire season.

    • If it could have been it would have been.

      I mean. Really?

      • The players were locked out Chrisms; remember that? They were willing to play while working out a deal. Offering their services while negotiating was an act in good faith. They knew a form of cap would be implemented regardless. Shutting the game down completely is never a good thing. The PA is on board with expansion as it provides more jobs. Not allowing a deal that gives owners some ability to exist rather than fold was never an intention of the PA. The whole thing was posturing on both sides to extract as much share of the revenue as possible. That’s negotiating. Get it?

  7. The business model of the NHL does not need to be changed. 50-50 for revenue is fair. The only reason teams get stuck with long term contracts is because they offer them to players that do not deserve them.

    As far as teams like Toronto making too much money is they fill the building and sell a lot of merchandise. They can only spend the same on salaries as anyone else. They put money into the NHL for other teams in the current system.

    We do not need anymore lockouts. The owners just need to control the GMs. Every system has parts that can be exploited so every time one supposed loop hole is closed some thing else opens up.

    The NHL has a good balance of speed and physical play. There is more hitting then other decades when you look at the clean hits. In the past fighting was considered physical play. In the 70s and 80s players took two minute shifts so they could not use speed the way it is used for checking and scoring now.

    • Tugboat
      Nice to see some common sense; thanks! To suggest lockouts are needed is ridiculous!

      • Lockouts might happen because of stubbornness not necessity. I hope there is some sensible conversation on here today!