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Fletcher, Boudreau Provide Updates From Buffalo

by Evan Sporer / Minnesota Wild

BUFFALO -- The coach's challenge, video review, and goaltender equipment were some of the topics discussed during a General Manager's meeting on Thursday in Buffalo, a day before the 2016 NHL Draft begins.

All 30 teams convened, and the coach's challenge specifically was a long topic of conversation, which included head coaches from around the league.

This past season was the first in which the NHL used a coach's challenge to review scoring plays, whether they were offside or if there was interference with the goaltender.

The Wild challenged nine plays during the regular season, and had two reversed. In the playoffs, Minnesota was 0-for-2 on challenges. The Wild's opponents were 3-for-10 on challenges this season.

"I can't speak for everybody," Wild General Manager Chuck Fletcher said. "I thought there might just be a handful of offside reviews, but it was a lot more than I anticipated. The cameras on the blue lines in the playoffs made a big difference. That will speed everything up, and maybe lead to fewer challenges. It's going in the right direction."

Fletcher said the conversation was more explanatory, and less about implementing specific changes to the existing system.

"The goaltender interference from my standpoint worked exactly the way I thought it would," Fletcher said. "Again, it's not a black-and-white issue, and they're trying to make the better call, and there are always going to be some calls that we may all disagree on. But I think it's a big improvement over what it was before."

Wild Standing Pat For Now

Fletcher said Thursday was a relatively quiet day for him, as far as the trade market is concerned, again saying the timeframe for trades may extend beyond what most summers are currently like.

"I've been an active listener, and we'll see where it leads us, if anywhere," Fletcher said. "Our goal is to try to improve our team this summer any way possible, but we're certainly not going to make changes for the sake of making changes."

With its 2016-17 coaching staff set, Fletcher has said on multiple occasions (backed up by the coaches themselves) that the new staff likes a lot of the pieces already in place on the roster.

"We have the potential to have a really good offensive team," said Head Coach Bruce Boudreau, who said he isn't concerned about Minnesota adding offensive weapons. "I don’t care, as long as we win, and I think there are a lot of guys (already on the roster) with offense in general."

Boudreau said he's made contact with five players, and is waiting for more of the Wild's offseason to be hammered out before reaching out to more of the roster.

"Just as an example, (calling) Charlie Coyle, saying, 'Hey Charlie, we really want to use you at center,'" Boudreau said. "Because I don't know where he's going to play, but I want to make sure that after the draft and free agency stuff, then we'll know more about where he's going to play."

Boudreau did say he liked the way Mikael Granlund plays with Mikko Koivu, though again said it's too early to handicap if Granlund would play center or wing.

On Monday, Fletcher also said he liked the way Granlund played next to Koivu.

"[Granlund is] pretty adaptable. Depending on how many guys we have to play center will determine where he plays."

Fletcher said conversations will occur soon between the Wild and its restricted free agents. He said he had a good meeting with forward Tyler Groavac's agent, and has meetings scheduled for Friday, but those are more preliminary talks.

Fletcher said Jason Zucker's agent isn't in Buffalo, but that they've had a lot of conversations, and hopes to make progress on that front over the next week.

"He started so well, and it was such a struggle the second half of the year," Fletcher said. "He still scored 34 goals the past two years, and I think 31 of them at even-strength. There's a lot more untapped potential there, but in my opinion we have several players that have played better, can play better, and will play better."

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