If you're in the market for an affordable Minnesota Wild jersey, here's a rare bit of good news for these tough economic times: Odds are that the team's shop will be slashing prices on
The inability of the club and the impending free agent to finalize a contract extension before the start of the season suggests that this drama won't end happily with a handshake and a long-term agreement. Forget about the team's first-ever draft pick remaining Wild for life. The growing impasse suggests he won't even finish the season in Minnesota.
And if GM
As difficult as it may be for the franchise to cut ties with its leading scorer and lone original member, it now seems inevitable. There's always the chance negotiations will sputter back to life, but Wild fans can't blame Risebrough if his next press conference revolves around a trade rather than the announcement of an extension. Numerous league sources have confirmed that the gifted winger was offered a deal up to 10 years in duration at $8 million per.
That's a significant offer by the Wild. Certainly it's fair enough to entice someone who's never been a top-10 scorer or award candidate -- and who has missed a major chunk of time to upper leg injuries in three of his previous four campaigns.
That sort of scratch would have put Gaborik in pretty elite company over the short term. Just five players -- including
That should tell you why these negotiations are going nowhere. He's saying all the right things, of course, telling the local media he'd love to remain with the team. But the truth is that, barring an over-the-top offer that would put him in Ovechkin's tax bracket, Gaborik is committed to testing the market next summer.
Chasing the possibility of a bigger payday doesn't make Gaborik a bad guy. But his obviously disingenuous approach does leave Risebrough in a bit of a bind. Gaborik's a lot like the stock market lately, a volatile but promising asset whose value seems just as likely to tank as soar. And so the GM is stuck trying to play the market timing game. The longer he waits, the likelier it is that his leverage decreases. That's why Risebrough won't wait until the March 3 trade deadline to move the player.
Of course, Risebrough has to find someone who is willing to dance with him. Cap issues, both this season and in the future, limit the number of teams that are capable of ponying up. And even if he can find a partner, the immediate return probably won't help the Wild defend their Northwest championship. That's a tough pill for fans to swallow, but the less painful alternative to losing Gaborik for nothing in July.
So, where is Gaborik likely to go? The Penguins have popped up as a possibility, but that's just speculation. It's not hard to see that Crosby is a racecar saddled with square wheels for wingers. The thought of Gaborik and the Kid gunning it into enemy territory is delicious, but the math doesn't work. The Pens already have four big-ticket players on the books for next season, with the possibility of a fifth in
And honestly, the Wild likely won't get a player of Staal's caliber in return. Long-term rental or not, this deal is likely to be structured similarly to the one that sent
The Sabres have some cap space, and the kind of young talent and picks to make an intriguing offer. After losing so much talent to the free agent game, Buffalo could use an immediate infusion to legitimize their run for an Eastern Conference playoff spot. Montreal, in a make-or-break year with just four forwards signed for next season, has to be in the running. It would require some nifty cap space shuffling by
The most intriguing possibility might be the Panthers, a team with plenty of cap room next season, pressure to break a long playoff slump this season, and the need for a positive PR move given the likely loss of impending free agent defenseman
Every day that passes without some sort of resolution is a gamble for the Wild, but the risk is just as high for Gaborik. If he suffers another injury that costs him more than a couple games -- something that seems as likely as
More productive negotiations are expected to start shortly between the Detroit Red Wings and
As a native son of the true north strong and free, I don't have a dog in the American electoral fight, but I do offer this advice: Enough with the hand- wringing over
Speaking of politics, former Winnipeg Jet star
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