SAINT PAUL, Minn.
-- Wild GM Chuck Fletcher, taking a rare timeout between the ebbs and flows of Free Agency 2009, spent nearly an hour on Thursday meeting with the Twin Cities media -- 35 minutes with local beat writers on a conference call and another 20 with TV outlets in a banquet room at 317 Washington Street. The topic, of course, was his take on the Wild's approach to the annual signing period that is met with great anticipation and characterized, rather loftily, if not out of hopeful hyperbole, by phrasing such as Free Agent Frenzy.
As of 6 o'clock Thursday night, Minnesota had acquired two players, Martin Havlat and Greg Zanon, both of whom, according to Fletcher, contacted the Wild and showed a great deal of interest in signing with the club nearly as the gates opened at 11 a.m. CDT Wednesday.
At the close of regular business hours on Wednesday night, the Havlat deal had not been completed, but, working deep into the evening, Fletcher was able to sign the talented and versatile winger, then wake up with the feeling he had accomplished his Day 1 mission -- to land both a defenseman who could play in the top five as well as a top-tier free-agent forward.
Havlat, 28, certainly fits that bill. In addition to his production (29 goals last season, plus 44 between 109 shortened seasons from 2005-08), Havlat, should the Wild's coaching staff see fit, can play in all situations and on both sides of the ice. He's 6-foot-2, 217 pounds, and signed for the next six seasons.
In the coming days, Fletcher will continue to pursue the options he has available to him -- he told the writers, "we're certainly working on things." The Wild GM is understandably uncomfortable discussing some of the specifics, but he was quick to point out, on a few occasions, both with the writers and with the television crews, the idea that a free agent signing period runs more than just a few days.