The NHL's trade deadline has passed with the Minnesota Wild completing just one deal involving minor league players. Some details from that deal were still being ironed out when General Manager Chuck Fletcher sat down with Wild.com, so he was unable to comment on that trade.
But Fletcher did talk about the day's events, and in particular why he was plenty satisfied with keeping his NHL roster in tact as the team prepares for the final 20 games of the season. Fletcher also said Mikko Koivu
had a good visit with the doctor today, and that he expects a return from Guillaume Latendresse
in the next seven to 14 days.
Here is the full transcript of our sitdown with Fletcher. First, and perhaps most importantly, do you have an update on Mikko Koivu?
Yeah, in speaking with (Head Athletic Therapist) Don Fuller, Mikko saw the hand specialist again this morning. The appointment went well. Mikko continues to progress nicely. I believe he’ll have another checkup in a few more days. He’s healing, and right now we’re optimistic that he’ll be back sooner rather than later.There’s a lot leading up to the deadline, but as you came to the office today, what was your mindset about how the day would go?
Over the course of the year and certainly over the last few weeks, I believe every manager spends a lot of time calling around to find out what the market is and to gauge what interest teams may have in your players and vice versa.
Certainly, I’ve spent a lot of time on the phone the last few weeks, speaking to managers and speaking to teams and assessing what the market would be. So coming into today, I had a pretty clear idea of how things would transpire.
There have been a few trades around the league, but it was about what we expected and I felt pretty strongly that we wouldn’t do anything today based on how the conversations had gone the past few weeks.
The bottom line is that right now, the majority of the NHL teams remain in the playoff hunt and there’s many more teams looking to buy than to sell. When that happens, 1) there’s a scarcity of players available to trade for. And 2) the prices for players that are available skyrocket.
From our opinion, it didn’t make sense to overpay with respect to future assets for players that we thought weren’t impact players. The majority of the players that were available were players that we already have.
It was a very expensive market and we didn’t feel it was worth getting into. Did the team’s performance since Koivu and Kyle Brodziak went down contribute to your decision to stay put? Would things have been different had the team gone 1-3 or 0-4 as opposed to 2-1-1?
I don’t know. We remain committed to making the playoffs and we believe we will make the playoffs. We like the team and there’s a lot of character in the room.
The impressive thing recently has been how the team has really bonded together over the last few months. The work ethic has been terrific all season and now our chemistry seems to be top notch as well.
At this point we didn’t feel there was any reason to make a change for the sake of making a change. You look at our record over the last 25 games and I think there’s only a couple teams in the League that have more wins than we do.
The important thing to us is to be as competitive as we can be in the short term without mortgaging our future. Leading up to the deadline, you’ve talked about being careful to not upset the character and chemistry this team has. Do you think that helped put your current players at ease? It didn’t feel like deadline day down in the locker room today.
Yeah. Again, the players have really stepped up over the last few months and played terrific hockey. What’s impressive about this team is we find ways to win. The team really cares for each other. They play hard for each other. And I think they believe that the answers to any potential problems reside within that room. We don’t need to look to the outside and that’s great.
If you go back to last summer, we added seven new players if you count Clayton Stoner
as a new player. It’s eight new players if you count Pierre-Marc Bouchard
, who played 10 minutes last season.
We’ve had a lot of change over the last year and a half. We’ve added a lot of new players and it’s been a process to get to this point in terms of developing chemistry and developing trust.
We’re finally at that point. When I look at it, what I feel we need is more stability, not more change. We’ve had so much change. We’ve dealt with that change. We’ve integrated the new players into the team. And now we’re finally at the point where we have a team.
To continually bring in players from the outside…on paper you’ve upgraded your talent level. But in theory all you’ve done is take away from the chemistry that you’ve worked so hard to develop and that the players have worked so hard to develop. During last summer’s free agency period, you talked about the additions of Matt Cullen, Eric Nystrom, Brad Staubitz and John Madden as three moves that would improve the character in the locker room from last season. Would you say that these guys have brought what you needed the most?
Exactly. If you look at some of the acquisitions today, teams were trying to find centermen. They were trying to find top checking centermen that could kill penalties and win faceoffs.
When we signed Cullen and Madden last summer, that’s what we envisioned getting. We wanted quality veteran guys that brought a lot of character, work ethic and energy to the rink every day. Guys that could play multiple roles. Guys that could win faceoffs.
Today, from taking a cursory look at the trades that have been made, it seems like teams were working hard to acquire veteran centermen. In a lot of ways, we went out and acquired those assets last summer.
We felt last summer that if we could add some of the complementary pieces to our team and add more depth and add more character and add more players that could kill penalties and check and compete and help win games on the road, our team would be better.
That has shown to be true so far this season. Do you expect Guillaume Latendresse to be your deadline acquisition even though it will be later than February 28?
We’ve been anxiously awaiting Gui’s return to our team. Certainly we would have liked if he already had returned. He had some significant surgeries in the Fall and it’s a long process to return to full health from those.
I still believe he’ll be able to return to our team in the next seven to 14 days. Hopefully it’s closer to seven than 14, but we will get him back in time to help our team win games down the stretch.
You look at the trade market and there were very few, if any, players like Gui available. To find that type of power forward…we’re fortunate that we have Gui and he will make a return to our team, and he’ll hopefully contribute when he does get back. You said the day played out as expected, but did things get hairy in the war room at all today?
You know, it wasn’t. The calls were evenly spread throughout the last three days to be honest with you. Every day I had a few phone calls and I’ve spoken to most of the managers in the League over the last week and probably all of them over the last month.
I think the market this year developed a little earlier than it has in years past. It seemed like some teams got their work done in advance of the deadline. It probably made today quieter than what we’ve become accustomed to.
But we weren’t attempting to do much and we didn’t feel like there were a lot of assets available that would have accomplished what we wanted. And the day kind of played out exactly as expected. It doesn’t normally, but there weren’t any surprising calls or offers at the last minute.
It was certainly the quietest trade deadline I can remember in a long time.