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Vanek, Stastny, Niskanen, Mitchell on Minnesota’s shopping list

Jun 26, 2014, 9:05 AM EDT

Chuck Fletcher Getty Images

Minnesota Wild GM Chuck Fletcher has a shopping list for free agency and it’s rather juicy.

Michael Russo of The Star Tribune reports the Wild have been in contact with the agents for forwards Thomas Vanek and Paul Stastny as well as defensemen Matt Niskanen and Willie Mitchell.

Chasing Vanek isn’t a surprise as we’ve heard about the mutual interest between the two for a while now. Russo says they may not be thinking long-term with the Austrian star forward.

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.

The reason for that is because the Wild want to go heavily after Niskanen, another Minnesota native.

His breakout season with the Penguins has made him one of the hottest targets in free agency and he’d cure some power play ills for the Wild if he signed there.

The interest in Stastny makes sense because he’d give the Wild another solid player up the middle who can score as well as play strong defensively. Having him line up with Mikko Koivu as the top two centers would give them a very strong setup.

As for Mitchell, he’s a former member of the Wild and showed to be a strong contributor and mentor to younger blue liners like Slava Voynov and Alec Martinez with the Los Angeles Kings. With the host of young blue liners in the Wild’s stable, adding Mitchell would provide depth and a guy for others to learn from.

  1. pjblake2redwings - Jun 26, 2014 at 9:13 AM

    Noooo. I want Niskanen in Detroit!

  2. bricevjohnson - Jun 26, 2014 at 9:26 AM

    All I want for my birthday (Saturday) is for Matt Niskanen to sign with the Avs. That’s all I ask Sakic/Roy. Please make it so.

    • avscup - Jun 26, 2014 at 9:57 AM

      Why? The Avs have enough small d that don’t play the body. The Avs need grit and team toughness more than anything. A bigger D that can be nasty in our zone is the answer, not another medium sized puck moving D that gets pushed around by the bigger forwards in the league. We miss Footer, Blake, Bourque non of them small, all of them HOF!

      • ibieiniid - Jun 26, 2014 at 10:19 AM

        “A bigger D that can be nasty in our zone”

        I gave you a thumbs up for innuendo’s sake.

      • avscup - Jun 26, 2014 at 10:33 AM

        Not really innuendo but wishful thinking. The Avs have some great pieces but are missing the grit and toughness. MN exposed that in the playoffs.

        Just look at LA. All the right parts.

      • ibieiniid - Jun 26, 2014 at 10:46 AM

        lol sorry man. I was making a d*** joke. I think your mind is too grown up for me.

  3. buffbry - Jun 26, 2014 at 9:26 AM

    I’m a wings fan too and I don’t understand the infatuation with Niskanen. He is a 1 year wonder. Has he been steady before this sure, but at 6 million a year, not that steady. I much rather get someone like Boyle for 2 years to mentor the young kids and then have them take over or get someone via trade/free agency in 2 years.

    Everyone is down on Boyle, but remember other older veterans who were supposed to stink, Chelios, Rafalski, Murhpy, Stuart who all came to the wings and thrived. I believe Boyle could be that same type of player. For 2 years at 5-6 million it’s worth more then Niskanen at 6-7 years at 6 a year.

    • hockey412 - Jun 26, 2014 at 9:33 AM

      As a Pens fan I agree. He’s going to get way overpaid. I can see $3.5M up to $4M. And that’s only because he’s going to be overpaid in free agency. He’s a dependable two way defenseman, and pretty sturdy. Doesn’t hit often, doesn’t block shots often, not bad at moving the puck, skates ok, but not fast. He basically does everything ‘ok’, which is pretty good when you think about it. But it’s not $6M good. But hey, get what you can while you can.

    • mshantz22 - Jun 26, 2014 at 9:34 AM

      I would love Boyle for one year but two is pushing it, and I’m sure Holland will sign him for 2 years and too much money. He’s 38 and a small guy. It’s screams injury. I assume he hasn’t lost all of his speed yet, but I’m honestly tired of Detroit signing all of these old guys.

    • steelpenbucs87 - Jun 26, 2014 at 9:40 AM

      412 alluded to this as well, but I think Niskanen is greater than the sum of his parts. He’s jack of all trades and a master of none, but it gives him such versatility. He’s got enough offensive game to be on your powerplay, enough spacing awareness and stick on puck game to be on your PK, he’s not overly fast or physical but, again, decent in those areas too. I wouldn’t begrudge a team giving him $4M – $4.5M a year (except the Pens but that has more to do with their team situation than NIskanen), but I think $6M will likely be a bit steep.

    • hockeydon10 - Jun 26, 2014 at 11:31 AM

      I think everyone has hit the nail right on the head here.

      He’s good, but
      Better than Kronwall? No.
      Better than DeKeyser? Maybe, but DDK just kept looking better and better on the ice.
      Better than Ericsson? I could see that argument but not to the tune of $6M+

  4. lbeezyse - Jun 26, 2014 at 9:28 AM

    Joe, you might want to check your sources on the Wild. Granlund & Stats would be our #1/2 centers with Koivu sliding to #3.

    • nharris28 - Jun 26, 2014 at 9:56 AM

      Koivu-0.80 PPG
      Statsny-0.72 PPG

      • lordfletcher - Jun 26, 2014 at 10:56 AM

        Koivu is really the best #3 C in the game, just getting paid like a top 6 / #1 C.

        He is a complete two way center and shuts down top lines well. He has also shown that he can put up 60 points playing with top playes and bottom 6. I love the idea of Koivu being the #3 but I still don’t see how MN offers Stastny enough to leave Denver or not go to a team that could offer more.

        No doubt the biggest prize for MN this free agency is signing a RHD that can work the PP. Which is Niskanen, just wished he was bigger… either way, I will be stoked if Fletcher gets him at a comfortable but obviously spendy price.

        No Vanek over 3+ years!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

      • purpleguy - Jun 26, 2014 at 11:17 AM

        Fletcher, your comments are always spot on, but please, please could you lighten up on Koivu for just one day?

      • lordfletcher - Jun 26, 2014 at 4:50 PM

        :) sorry Purpleguy

        I am really not trying to bash Koivu here, just telling it like it is from my eyes. I do like Koivu but I am very frustrated with his role in MN. I really wish he could be on the 3rd line and I truly don’t care how much he costs and great two way centers are worth their value (as long as we have guys who score on the top 6). Koivu is no worse than a #2 C but his game is suited for the 3rd line, IMO. Again, he played well with Miettinen and God knows what other garbage and has put up similar points with Parise and Co. Just saying, have Granlund as your #1, someone else as #2 (stastny), Koivu #3 and Haula as #4 but getting prime minutes as a 4th liner. Those are quality centers and eventually I see Haula being the two C in about 3 years with that depth.

        again, I do like Koivu, just wish we wouldn’t have to rely on his offensive game as much as we fans like to.

        side bar — Would like to see Fletcher draft a LW / RW at #18 tomorrow and then bring in Iginla over Vanek. Shorter deal, less money, better player and when Iggy is done, potentially have a call up ready from 2014 draft!!!


        Sign Matt N!!! need a RHD cuz I think Dumba is still 1-2 years away

    • wildskater - Jun 26, 2014 at 8:07 PM

      You might want to check the source of your brain cells went….Really Koivu a number 3C???

      • lordfletcher - Jun 27, 2014 at 12:31 AM

        I honestly don’t know where to start w your comment. Outside of you sharing literally nothing to combate my opinion, you are asking me to “check the source of your brain cells went”?????


        Please enlighten me

      • wildskater - Jun 28, 2014 at 2:49 AM

        I’m pretty sure I replied to Ibeezyse not you Fletcher. He said something about checking the source of the Wild playing Koivu.

        And speaking of Koivu….3rd line centers as people are clamoring here do not put up high stats in possession as Koivu does year in year out. This is the first year where when Koivu got injured, the overall team possession didn’t fall off a cliff. The only team Koivu is a 3rd line C is PIT, and thats if they have Crosby/Malkin as their 1/2.

  5. peopletrains - Jun 26, 2014 at 10:24 AM

    Ah, yes. Let’s pick out a single statistic and conclude that Player A is better than Player B.

    • nharris28 - Jun 26, 2014 at 10:39 AM

      Koivu 13th in possession
      Statsny 79th in possession

      I can add more

      • wildskater - Jun 26, 2014 at 8:13 PM

        Keep going! Wow I thought people would be smarter here. Nice to see someone see’s the obvious….if you watch hockey that is.

        No way no how is Stastny better than Koivu.

  6. bhinrichs9 - Jun 26, 2014 at 11:42 AM

    I do like Stasny he showed up bigtime in the playoffs vs the Wild and can score goals. I think he would mesh well with our veteran forwards Parise and Pominville and then have the youth Movement on line 2 with Granlund Coyle and Nino. Koivu is a fantastic 3rd line center but what does that make Haula? A wing? If you are going to overpay for an Av, overpay for their young stud Ryan O’Reilly. Love the idea of Niskanen.

    • 19to77 - Jun 26, 2014 at 1:46 PM

      ROR’s the one Avs management will make the biggest effort at retaining. Between him and Statsny, they’ll let Statsny go.

      Plus, only ways O’Reilly leaves are:
      A) If a team throws him too big a qualifying offer for the Avs to stomach (in which case, I hope said team can afford all the draft picks they’d have to part with as compensation)
      B) If they sign and trade (which would also be for a very steep price)
      C) Trading for his rights (which the Avs would only resort to if they absolutely cannot reach terms, because that’s the worst possible return value for him)

      So, yeah, teams can try for ROR I guess, but they’re either going to fail or get reamed in the process. Statsny’s a much more achievable goal.

  7. avfanforlife - Jun 26, 2014 at 1:02 PM

    If teams want an AV, they should be trying for Ryan O’Reilley over Stats… That said, I really want them both to stay in CO – Loosing either, ESPECIALLY to the Wild, would s u c k.

    • 19to77 - Jun 26, 2014 at 1:53 PM

      You’re right in that ROR’s the better player, but going after him as a trade or contract target would be extremely hard at this point. If you sign him as an RFA, you give up a king’s ransom in picks because he seems to want $6.5m+ per season and the compensation for that is steep as hell. If you wait for the Avs to sign and try to prise him out afterward, they’ll want even more coming back their way. And they absolutely will not deal his rights because that won’t get them anywhere near what he’s worth. Between that and overpaying him, they’ll just overpay him and accept it.

      • avfanforlife - Jun 26, 2014 at 2:23 PM

        Agreed – I’ve said before, Av’s will be better off slightly over-paying for them both than letting them go. The team really came together under Roy last year (duh), but keeping the core together is crucial to a serious cup run in my opinion. Enough cap space to cover them both really… give ROR a longer term contract to keep the yearly cap hit down and let the team’s chemistry go forward and bring the Cup back to Denver!!!

  8. bhinrichs9 - Jun 26, 2014 at 2:08 PM

    It going to be a good year to be a Wild fan.

  9. rsmaggiemae - Jun 26, 2014 at 2:48 PM

    To the Minnesota boys as free agents
    Just remember what Dorothy said in the Wizard of Oz
    ‘There’s no place like home’
    Matt would be close to Tower
    and Tomas to Stillwater

  10. rsmaggiemae - Jun 26, 2014 at 2:54 PM

    How can you praise Koivu so much ???
    His highest rating over the last 6 years has been a +9 and he gets 6 mil a year???
    i personally think this guy is so over rated and should be on the 4th line..
    Haula can play center or left wing, so move Koivu down again.
    I dont dislike Koivu but he just doesnt have the jump that he used to have and in Canada on the tv show, they were talking about how he has lost something in his game, and they cant pinpoint exactly what it is as it something different in each game….sometimes he disappears in the games especially in the playoffs now for the last 2 years

    • lordfletcher - Jun 26, 2014 at 7:07 PM

      You think I “praise” Koivu a lot?

      You should look at my history of posts :) …. I don’t think he is the point getting that fans want out of him as a skater. His game to me is a shut down, two way C. If Koivu can get near 50-60 points a year, that’s fantastic!

      Him getting paid $6+ is because the Wild couldn’t have lost him 4 years ago for nothing… Imagine having not one quality center for a long time if he had left…

    • wildskater - Jun 26, 2014 at 8:29 PM

      Wow 4th line???? What Wild hockey games are you watching???

      • lordfletcher - Jun 27, 2014 at 12:33 AM

        Apparently most of Koivu’s playoff games 😉

      • wildskater - Jun 28, 2014 at 2:53 AM

        I’m hoping you’re joking. So your saying Brodziak and Haula at that matter are better than Koivu?!?!?

        If your answer is yes, you have no business having Fletcher in your screen name.

  11. guitarhunterdude - Jun 26, 2014 at 3:03 PM

    The only one I have any interest in here is Vanek. Stastny is going to get 7 per if he leaves the Avs, and he’s not worth that. Niskanen is going to get overpaid massively, and Mitchell is an old, injury-prone third-pair guy who’s getting too slow to connect on his hits and can’t move the puck up the ice effectively. Basically he’s Stoner, but with a way bigger cap hit.

    Stastny would make our center depth pretty crazy (I think Haula would get moved to left wing and we’d have Koivu-Stastny-Granlund-Brodziak down the middle, with the top three lines getting pretty even minutes but Koivu and Stastny having tougher matchups) but he’s really just a Koivu clone. A bit better goalscorer, sure, but not nearly the distributor or possession driver that Koivu is, and it’s been that way for a few years now. Let’s not let one good playoffs where he shot almost 40% blind us. We’d be buying high on both him and Niskanen.

    We’d be buying low on Vanek, on the other hand. I think the Gaborik contract put a ceiling on what Vanek’s going to get, and with his value being low already, I think he could be gotten at 6-6.5 per for 5 years, optimistically. For someone who’s basically guaranteed to add 25 goals and 60 points, bare minimum, at a position of need, that’s not bad.

    I can’t stress how much I want Fletch to stay away from Mitchell. The dude wasn’t that good to begin with, and he’s washed up. Re-sign Blum for a cheap fourth-pair option instead.

    • guitarhunterdude - Jun 26, 2014 at 3:17 PM

      I said fourth-pair, when I obviously meant third. Blum would be a solid guy to have either as the #6/7 or #5/6, depending on how Ballard looks next year and whether or not Folin pans out.

      • lordfletcher - Jun 26, 2014 at 7:40 PM

        couldn’t agree more.

        Like the idea of moving Haula to wing if they bring in Stastny!!!!! Haula needs minutes and it would be great to have those 4 at center

  12. jeff91121 - Jun 26, 2014 at 3:19 PM

    Go ahead and overpay again for more free agents Minnesota. Not like you already have $28 million tied up in 4 players. Like many other GM’s in the league Minn still has not figured out that winning in the NHL is about depth more than it is about having the highest priced players. Wasn’t it Minnesota that was crying a couple years ago about losing money…I think that was right before they signed the 2 most expensive free agents last season.

    • slickvb82 - Jun 26, 2014 at 4:16 PM

      At no point in your rambling, incoherent response were you even close to anything that could be considered a rational thought. Everyone in this room is now dumber for having listened to it. I award you no points, and may God have mercy on your soul.

      • jeff91121 - Jun 26, 2014 at 4:28 PM

        100 points on originality. Where have I heard that before?

      • slickvb82 - Jun 26, 2014 at 4:41 PM

        Sorry, I had to. Your comment deserved it.

  13. 19to77 - Jun 26, 2014 at 4:07 PM

    I like the Wild. They’ve built a good team. But seriously, must every summer consist of Wild fans talking about how literally every free agent would look great in their jersey and should come play in Minnesota? Sooner or later paying every UFA who ever played a shift or two of junior hockey somewhere in the state will stop being a viable strategy. Let’s all try to remember that free agency is the most expensive way of getting a player, and the salary cap is in fact a real thing. So go on, sign Statsny, Vanek, Niskanen, Mitchell and hey, what the hell, toss a few million in Dan Boyle’s general direction just to see what happens. Then try to explain the $90 million dollar roster to Gary Bettman and see how that goes.

    • fightingwild - Jun 26, 2014 at 4:22 PM

      you have to forgive us poor Wild fans. For many years during the Previous regime the Wild couldn’t get trades/Free agents of good ability. One year in the midst of a run for the division our GM got us…….Chris Simon. He was our big deadline trade. Risebrough didn’t trade or resign Gaborik when he could have & let him slip away for nothing. Getting Parise & Suter & then Pomminville have really changed us, we now believe we have a chance at almost any free agent out there & that Fletcher will fleece any trade partner he has. It is a good time to be a Wild fan. Team on the Rise, deep Prospect Pool, Depth on the Roster. Our only issue is goalie where Harding is great when he is healthy & Kuepmer too when he doesn’t smack his melon.

    • slickvb82 - Jun 26, 2014 at 4:22 PM

      C’mon man. You cant start by saying you like the Wild and they’ve built a good team but then go into a rant about them chasing FA’s. They signed two big name UFA’s of late, Parise who is actually from MN and Suter that has ties to MN. You act like this has been going on for years.

      • 19to77 - Jun 26, 2014 at 6:28 PM

        I’d add Pominville and Cooke to the list of overpriced FA acquisitions (Pommer’s cap hit is fine, but the term and the NTC aren’t great), but fair enough, you’ve got a point. It actually is a recent thing and not a regular occurrence.

      • lordfletcher - Jun 27, 2014 at 12:39 AM

        Also pommer is far from overpaid in any fashion of that contractm , term or length.

        POM’s is responsible for turning several of the young gums into the skaters they are now. He is credited as the main role model in the development of those young top 6 guys.

        That is hard to put a price on but I’ll just say POM’s is a bargain IMO

    • guitarhunterdude - Jun 26, 2014 at 4:34 PM

      I think Vanek will be the last big splash signing they make, but Fletcher has a pretty concerning habit of overpaying depth guys from UFA (Ballard,Cooke, Brodziak, possibly Stoner or Mitchell this year) that could really cripple the Wild in the next few years.

      • lordfletcher - Jun 26, 2014 at 7:49 PM

        (Ballard,Cooke, Brodziak, possibly Stoner or Mitchell this year)

        Ballard wasn’t over paid 1.5million for two years

        Cooke 2.5 and that is great value IMO (like him or not – I am not saying I do)

        Brodziak 2.8 and that’s after showing great promise, can’t really blame Chuck there.

        Stoner is a maybe. Huge playoffs as the playoff game suits him well but can’t play at that level for 82 games in the regular season. I doubt they go after Stoner if they bring in Niskanen as they could call up Dumba if needed or others. and Folin I think is going to be the real deal!!!

        I am not necessarily disagreeing with you but don’t agree :)

    • lordfletcher - Jun 26, 2014 at 7:45 PM

      “must every summer” – 19to77

      lets be real here, no one almost has ever came to MN as a free agent (name your sport) except for Parise and Suter….

      and this article is just pointing out what one of the best beat writers in any of the major sports is reporting. So it is worth making an article over to blog about.

  14. 2qswing - Jun 26, 2014 at 5:34 PM

    Vanek, Stastny, Niskonen, Mitchell? Hell why not add Gretzky and Lemieau. Why even attend the draft. Wild = Yankees. Buy your way to the playoffs

    • slickvb82 - Jun 26, 2014 at 6:15 PM

      Haha my god some of you people. They are *interested in and speaking with their agents. How many teams do you think are doing the same? Get a clue man.

      • slickvb82 - Jun 26, 2014 at 6:17 PM

        They pick up 2 FA’s last year, and apparently trying to make moves again this year and we are now the Yankees of the NHL….ok, dude.

  15. bluesdroogie - Jun 26, 2014 at 8:58 PM

    Stastny needs to come home to St Louis. We just signed Berglund so the avs can get a bigger younger center/winger in return. Bring Stastny home. Stastny centering Schwartz and Tarasenko would be fun to watch. Then a 2nd line of Backes centering Oshie and Steen.

  16. d1122 - Jun 26, 2014 at 10:22 PM

    as an Islander fan I am really hoping Vanek is going to go to the Wild or any other team, I know the biggest idiot in the league (Garth Snow) is going to keep his 7 year 49 Million offer on the table and there is no other team who is going to come close to that offer, and I am going to have to see Vanek’s contract turn into another horrible contract by his 2nd year

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