According to Frank Seravalli of TSN, the New York Islanders are working to acquire Zach Parise from the Minnesota Wild. The Islanders would be sending Andrew Ladd back in a potential deal, though the trade is not complete at this point and there would likely be additional pieces involved. Parise obviously has a link to Islanders GM Lou Lamoriello after playing the first part of his career in New Jersey. Michael Russo of The Athletic tweets that Parise is willing to waive his no-move clause if it does come together.
Back in 2012, the Wild made two huge splashes on the free agent market, signing defenseman Ryan Suter and winger Zach Parise to 13-year, $98MM contracts. While Suter has largely panned out, the same can’t be said for Parise who has often been injured and hasn’t been consistently productive when he has been in the lineup. Despite that, Michael Russo of The Athletic mentioned in an appearance on KFAN 100.3 (audio link) that one Eastern Conference team showed interest in Parise last summer and have recently inquired with regards to his availability. Given the nature of his contract though (a $7.538MM AAV for five more years after this one with a full no-move clause and the potential for salary cap recapture), dealing Parise may be easier to do in the summer but Russo adds that GM Bill Guerin is looking to shake things up and finding a new home for the 35-year-old would certainly be one way to do that.
More from the Western Conference:
- Two years ago, winger Anton Slepyshev failed to lock down a regular role with the Oilers and decided to return to the KHL. The move has been a fruitful one as he was January’s player of the month in that league and is having his most productive year with CSKA Moscow. GM Ken Holland told Bob Stauffer of 630 CHED (audio link) that he has had talks with Slepyshev’s representatives about bringing the 25-year-old back to North America for next season. Holland was active in bringing affordable Europeans over last summer in Gaetan Haas and Joakim Nygard and it appears he may be eyeing a similar strategy for this offseason as well.
- The news doesn’t appear to be good for Coyotes defenseman Jakob Chychrun. Craig Morgan of The Athletic notes (Twitter links) that the results of the imaging done on Chychrun was “definitely not good” to use head coach Rick Tocchet’s description. He has already been ruled out through the weekend and there is no timetable for his return. While the team hasn’t provided any details regarding the nature of the injury, Morgan reports that it’s a hip issue.
While the Minnesota Wild are hardly calling it a rebuilding project, it’s been quite obvious of late that they have been doing just that. Afterall, the team has traded away Charlie Coyle, Nino Niederreiter and Mikael Granlund in the second half of the season last year and continue to look like they are getting younger and younger.
In an in-depth piece about Wild forward Zach Parise, The Athletic’s Michael Russo (subscription required) writes that The Athletic has learned that general manager Paul Fenton has discussed the possibility of trading Parise at the draft and in the weeks since then in hopes of finding a trade partner. That would be a tall challenge for the GM as the 34-year-old Parise still has six years remaining on his contract at $7.53MM AAV (he originally signed a 13-year, $98MM contract back in 2012). Regardless, the scribe believes the team is seriously considering it, although there would be some obstacles.
First on the list, is whether Parise, who has a full no-movement clause, would be willing to accept a trade. While from Minneapolis and stating quite clearly that he loves it in Minnesota, the veteran also revealed that he’s concerned about the fact that the Wild seem to be looking toward a rebuild, something a veteran of 15 years isn’t likely to want to go through.
“I think I want to win. I want to win here, and I do love everything away from the rink. We’ve got so many friends through the kids away from the rink, away from hockey. It’s so great. It is great, so that’s the hard part,” Parise said, when asked if he’d be willing to accept a trade. “But you get to that point where you want to win. That’s all you want to do. Trust me, we’d all love to win here. I think this place would be absolute insanity if we won here. So that’s the goal. I mean, I just don’t know. Let’s put it this way, they haven’t come to me asking if I want to get traded somewhere.”
The second problem is that no playoff teams are going to be willing to pay $7.53MM for six straight years at his age, which will mean that Minnesota almost assuredly would have to retain some of his salary, perhaps even half of it. And if the club does that, would they be able to get a quality return even then? Parise did post 28 goals last season and could prove to be a valuable asset to many teams, but would a team be willing to take on six more years of him and hand over a major asset or two as well? After all, he’ll be 35 when the season starts and will be still be paid that amount when he turns 40. That’s a tall order even if they only have to pay $3.77MM per season.
Obviously moving Parise would quicken the pace of a rebuild as Parise’s contract (along with Ryan Suter who signed the same contract alongside Parise back in 2012) are definitely holding the team back from a complete rebuild. Of course, Parise also was the team’s leading scorer last year on a team that struggled to put the puck into the net and the team could get quite a negative reaction from fans if the team sends him off, especially if the return is a meager one. However, this might be the best time to move on from Parise after his 28-goal season as he is only getting older and even fewer teams will have interest in trading for him in the future if he struggles next season.
As we speak, the Minnesota Wild are playing what amounts to a must-win game against the Arizona Coyotes. Neither team is in a playoff position as of now, but it still represents a potential four-point shift in the Western Conference wild card race. The Coyotes currently sit in ninth place, three points back of the Colorado Avalanche for the final postseason berth. The Wild are in tenth place, just one point behind the ’Yotes. A Minnesota regulation win would see them leapfrog Arizona to pull within two points of Colorado, but an Arizona regulation win would put Minnesota three points back of the nine seed and still four points back of the eight seed, which might be insurmountable with only three games remaining after today.
Hurting the chances of a much-needed Wild win today is the continued absence of star forward Zach Parise. Unfortunately, he may not be returning at all this season. Just prior to puck drop, beat writer Sarah McLellan reported that Parise would not be active for the game, which was not a great surprise, but added that head coach Bruce Boudreau has qualified Parise’s lower-body ailment as “significant”. While she writes that the team “hopes” he might play again this season, it seems far from certain. Parise has now missed four games in a row and with three games left his chances to return are running out. A loss today would substantially lower the odds of Parise being rushed back to action as well. The 34-year-old has enjoyed a resurgence this season, leading the team with 26 goals and 59 points, but this is a disappointing end to an otherwise encouraging season for the veteran.
- The Athletic’s Michael Russo believes that the Wild are “pushing hard” for college free agent forward Nico Sturm. The Clarkson University captain is considered the top defensive forward in the NCAA and has improved offensively in each of his four collegiate seasons as well. The concern with Sturm is that the 23-year-old may have already peaked in his development and could project as nothing more than a fourth-liner at the NHL level. However, with good size and a mature game, Sturm does have the added benefit of being able to contribute right away, even if not on the score sheet. In fact, Russo writes that if Sturm lands in Minnesota, he is likely to join the Wild right away and burn a year off his entry-level contract.
- There has been plenty of speculation as to where St. Cloud State University defenseman Jimmy Schuldt might end up and the rumor mill has only heated up since the Huskies were unceremoniously upset for the second straight year in their first game of the NCAA Tournament. At one point, it seemed like a foregone conclusion that Schuldt would follow teammate Ryan Poehling to the Montreal Canadiens, but those whispers have subsided and many other contenders have entered the fray. Count the Wild as one such interested club. The Athletic’s Jake Jensen writes that Minnesota is at least “in the race” for Schuldt, alongside the L.A. Kings and Vegas Golden Knights. Potentially the best undrafted defender in college hockey this season, Schuldt will be a nice prize for whichever team he decides to join.
The Dallas Stars continue to hang onto the top wildcard playoff spot and continue to attempt to fend off several teams trying to steal away their spot. The Stars may get a much-needed boost soon as veteran Mats Zuccarello, who appeared in just one game with Dallas after they acquired him from the New York Rangers at the trade deadline, is making progress and could return to the team soon.
Zuccarello, who scored a goal an assist in his first game in Dallas before breaking his arm while blocking a shot on Feb. 24, participated in Dallas’ pre-game skate, according to NHL.com’s Mark Stepneski. His four-week recovery estimate is almost up and the team hopes that he could be ready soon.
“It increases every day,” Zuccarello said of the stickhandling. “Maybe a week, just started light and now I can shoot a little bit more, but it still hurts a little bit.”
The 31-year-old Zuccarello has 12 goals and 39 points so far this year, but the Stars need his experience on their struggling second line, especially if they want to remain in the playoff position they are currently in.
- The Minnesota Wild announced that the team will be without forward Zach Parise Saturday, who suffered an undisclosed injury Friday after colliding with Washington Capitals’ forward Tom Wilson. Parise, however, remained in the game and assisted on the team’s game-winning goal. The 34-year-old Parise is having a big season with 26 goals and 59 points in 73 games and has only missed two games this year up until now. It’s Parise’s biggest season since 2014-15. The team will replace Parise in the lineup with Pontus Aberg.
- The Winnipeg Jets are close to getting back a pair of key defensemen as both Dustin Byfuglien and Josh Morrissey each skated prior to the team’s morning skate Saturday, suggesting they could return soon, according to Mitchell Clinton of NHL.com. Byfuglien, who has been out since Feb. 14 with a lower-body injury, while Morrissey has been out since Feb. 24 with an upper-body injury. Head coach Paul Maurice said that Byfuglien has actually been skating on his own since Wednesday. “The way this works now is he skates, if he feels good the next day, he’ll start thinking about morning skates going forward,” said Maurice. “Then start building toward contact.”
- The Denver Post’s Mike Chambers reports that the team will be without star forward Mikko Rantanen again on Sunday at Chicago after missing his first game of the season against the Blackhawks at home on Saturday with a midsection injury. The 22-year-old was hurt in Thursday’s game against Dallas when he was checked into the boards along the team benches. He remains day-to-day.
- One a more positive note, BSN’s Adrian Dater reports there’s a chance, albeit a small chance, that injured forward Gabriel Landeskog, who was listed as being out four to six weeks with an upper-body injury back on Mar. 8, could return a bit early. That would be welcome news for a Colorado team that looked to be sliding out of the playoffs, but have had a recent resurgence that has brought them back into the playoff race. Landeskog is having a breakout year with 33 goals and 69 points.
The Winipeg Jets got some good news about a pair of their defensemen as head coach Paul Maurice said today that the team expects defensive star Dustin Byfuglien begin skating again later this week, according to Winnipeg Sun’s Ken Wiebe. The 33-year-old has struggled all season with multiple injuries and hasn’t played since Feb. 14 after injuring his ankle. Byfuglien has appeared in just 37 games, but has shown his value in those games as he has four goals and 30 points in that span.
Wiebe also added that defenseman Joseph Morrow skated for the first time since suffering a lower-body injury. He has missed six straight games and is expected to be out Sunday, but could be back later this week. Morrow has six points in 39 games this season.
- The Nashville Predators may be getting back one of their top forwards for today’s matchup against Minnesota as The Athletic’s Adam Vingan reports that Craig Smith has been activated off of injured reserve and is expected to join Kyle Turris and Mikael Granlund on the Predators’ second line. Smith has been out with a lower-body injury since Feb. 16 and has 16 goals this season in 61 games. The team might need him as the Wild have won five in a row.
- After scoring no more than two goals per game over their last six, the St. Louis Blues are in desperate need for offense and the team, which has gone 2-3-1 after winning 11 straight. The team truly seems to miss injured forwards Brayden Schenn and David Perron, the latter of which could be ready to return to the lineup soon, according to St. Louis Post-Dispatch’s Tom Timmermann. With the team not playing again for three days, that could be the time they need, especially with Perron, who has looked good in practice lately. More information will come Monday after the team’s practice.
- The Minnesota Wild got an impressive performance from emergency callup Matt Read, who scored a goal and played an all-around great game Saturday night in Minnesota’s win over the Calgary Flames, according to The Athletic’s Mike Russo (subscription required). Unfortunately, with veteran Zach Parise expected to play Sunday, that could spell the end for Read unless they use one of their official recalls on him.
With the playoffs being a longshot for the Vancouver Canucks, the team needs to start focusing on next year, especially with their defense. General manager Jim Benning recently said that the blueline needs work and the team could find themselves being active participants in free agency this summer.
“We’re going to look this summer to try and change things up in the back end. There’s work to be done on defence,” he told reporters.
The Vancouver Sun’s Patrick Johnston writes that the team will likely make a play for San Jose’s Erik Karlsson, Toronto’s Jake Gardiner and Winnipeg’s Tyler Myers or even try and deal for Jacob Trouba. All are possibilities, although many of them are likely to be longshots. In fact, there may not be many big-name defensive free agents that Vancouver can add.
However, while the team feels good about bringing Quinn Hughes on board later this year, possibly in the next few weeks, and have him take over a spot on the team’s top-four immediately, the Canucks have quite a few decisions of their own roster to make, including the status of defenseman Alexander Edler, who will be an unrestricted free agent this summer, but has indicated a willingness to return to the team even though a they haven’t managed to work out an extension yet. The team will also have to give a significant pay raise to defenseman Ben Hutton who has had a solid season in Vancouver this year.
The Canucks are expected to give a long look to blueliner Ashton Sautner, and still have high expectations for Olli Juolevi, who is out for the season with a knee injury. Regardless, the team will need to do something to improve the teams defense next season.
- It hasn’t exactly been the year that St. Louis Blues forward Robby Fabbri would have hoped for, but the oft-injured winger feels that his play is starting to turn the corner for the Blues, according to Jim Thomas of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. Fabbri has appeared in just 29 games this season with just five points, but with injuries to Brayden Schenn and David Perron, Fabbri has been receiving those extra minutes as well as some time on the power play, showing some signs that interim head coach Craig Berube is starting to show some confidence in the 23-year-old forward, who has lost almost two seasons to serious knee injuries. “I’ve been feeling good, and I’ve been feeling good for a while,” Fabbri said. “But there’s nothing like playing games. There’s a lot of things during the game that you can only practice in-game. It’s nice that I’m getting that opportunity right now.” Coincidentally, Fabbri has been made a healthy scratch for Saturday’s game, replaced by Sammy Blais, according to NHL.com’s Lou Korac.
- The Dallas Stars get a big boost on their offensive end as veteran forward Jamie Benn is expected back to their lineup Saturday against St. Louis, according to NHL.com’s Mark Stepneski. Benn was forced to leave their Feb. 24th game against the Chicago Blackhawks after suffering an upper-body injury early in the game and subsequently missed the next two games. “I’m good. Ready to go,” Benn said. “100 percent.” The team could use an offensive boost even though Benn hasn’t had his usual type of season with just 21 goals and just 20 assists in 61 games this season.
- The Minnesota Wild will be without veteran forward Zach Parise, who will miss Saturday’s game in Calgary and is questionable for Sunday’s game against Nashville with a foot injury, according to The Athletic’s Michael Russo. The 34-year-old Parise is having a impressive season with 24 goals and 54 points and has been hot lately with a goal and four assists in his last five games.
Though they have no bearing on the eventual winners, last season the Professional Hockey Writers Association brought back their Midseason Awards to give fans an idea of who was leading the charge around the NHL at the halfway point. Today those ballots have been tallied and the midseason trophies were given out:
Hart Trophy – Most valuable player
Norris Trophy – Best defenseman
Selke Trophy – Best defensive forward
Calder Trophy – Best rookie
Lady Byng Trophy – Sportsmanship & gentlemanly conduct
Vezina Trophy – Best goaltender
Jack Adams Award – Best coach
1. Barry Trotz, New York Islanders
2. Bill Peters, Calgary Flames
3. Jon Cooper, Tampa Bay Lightning
GM of the Year Award
1. Brad Treliving, Calgary Flames
2. Doug Wilson, San Jose Sharks
3. Lou Lamoriello, New York Islanders
Rod Langway Award – Best defensive defenseman
Comeback Player of the Year Award
The Dallas Stars have a tough road ahead of them. With new inspiring head coach Jim Montgomery ready to take the reins in Dallas, the team is eager to force their way to the top of the Central Division, but they also know that if the team can’t sign star Tyler Seguin to an extension sometime this year, everything they’ve worked for could fall apart.
The 26-year-old star is coming off a career-high 40 goals, but has also seen his team not reach the playoffs in three of his last four seasons. On top of that, Seguin has not signed an extension as of yet, something that could have happened on July 1. NHL.com’s Mike Heika writes that while Seguin has been careful about what he says about his next contract, he has expressed his love for the city.
“My focus is I have another year with the Dallas Stars, so there is no real thought of thinking of other teams or thinking of free agency,” Seguin said. “My focus is getting ready to play this year … I love it here. My objective is I want to win a championship here. I love Dallas, it’s home to me. So that’s my No. 1 goal.”
Heika writes that one obstacle is the team is hesitant to sign any player to a higher AAV than the deal they gave Jamie Benn back in 2016. Unfortunately, Seguin might easily be able to pass that mark as John Tavares recently signed for an $11MM AAV and with salaries increasing yearly, that could be an issue that Dallas might have to re-examine.
- Dane Mizutani of the Twin Cities Pioneer Press writes that Minnesota Wild winger Zach Parise, who suffered a fractured sternum just three games into the playoffs, says he is 100 percent now and will be ready for training camp. In fact, the 33-year-old feels so good that he has decided to participate in Da Beauty League, a weekly 4-on-4 league, to get himself back into game shape after suffering the injury. Parise, who was one of the top scorers for Minnesota late in the season, including scoring 12 goals over the final 18 games and then three more goals in the first three games of the playoffs, will be a key piece for the Wild to compete for a playoff spot next season.
- Scott Billeck of NBC Sports writes that the Winnipeg Jets are likely going to have to pay up to sign restricted free agent Jacob Trouba and predicts the team will hand him an eight-year deal. The real question is how much will the team have to pay for Trouba, who has developed into one of the best top defensive lines next to Josh Morrissey. Trouba’s numbers may not look impressive, but he had career numbers in assists per 60 minutes at 1.03 and points per 60 minutes at 1.22. Those numbers actually compare to elite defensemen like Victor Hedman, Drew Doughty and P.K. Subban. Those numbers could bring his pricetag to a very high number.
The Minnesota Wild were expected to shake things up after another disappointing playoff run and made that clear when they replaced general manager Chuck Fletcher with Paul Fenton. One forgets that Fenton as the assistant to David Poile in Nashville for the past 20 years, has been involved in many blockbuster trades in that time. So, don’t be surprised to see the team make several big moves this offseason.
The Athletic’s Mike Russo (subscription required) delves into several potential trade candidates and what the chances are that Fenton might move them. At the top of the list is winger Nino Niederreiter, who might be the perfect trade candidate. After three 20-goal seasons, Niederreiter came up two goals short this year, but also missed 19 games this year with a high ankle sprain and a broken fibula. Unfortunately, Niederreiter also has struggled in the playoffs recently combining for just one assist in 10 playoff games over the past two seasons. However, the fact that he’s 25 years old and is locked in for another four years at $5.25MM AAV could make him the team’s biggest trade chip. Throw in the fact that Jason Zucker and Zach Parise are listed as the top two left wings on the team, he is expendable.
While he analyzes a number of trade candidates in the article, Russo suggests that despite going well out of their way to protect Mathew Dumba at the expansion draft last season (that cost them Erik Haula and Alex Tuch), Dumba rewarded the team with a career highs in goals and assists with 14 goals and 36 assists. Now a restricted free agent, the team must decide whether Dumba is worth a long-term deal and if not, the Wild might want to move him while his value is high.
- With the team’s success this year, Vegas Golden Knights general manager George McPhee refers to their 2017 first-round picks, Cody Glass, Nick Suzuki and Erik Brannstrom as “long shots” to making the team next season, according to SinBinVegas. If one of those picks were to make the Golden Knights roster out of training camp, they would have to be “really, really good.” McPhee also said he doesn’t believe teenagers belong in the NHL and the team must take more responsibility to develop their prospects properly. “Smartest thing we can do is take our time and develop them,” McPhee said.
- Sticking with the Vegas Golden Knights, David Schoen of the Las Vegas Review-Journal reports that McPhee said the team continues to pursue Russian winger Nikita Gusev, who the team acquired in an expansion-day deal with the Tampa Bay Lightning last year. The 25-year-old has scored 46 goals and tallied 133 points over the past two seasons in the KHL. He still has one more year remaining on a two-year deal he signed last summer, so the Golden Knights have to wait a while longer. “He’s got another year on his deal and then we’ll see what we can do. He’s a talented guy and we’ll do what we can to get him here. We’ve talked to him, and we’ll continue to talk to him,” McPhee said.