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.
Shayne Gostisbehere is the proud owner of a new rookie record.
With his goal in the third period of Saturday’s 2-1 OT loss to the Devils, the 22-year-old extended his point streak to 11 games, which is a record for rookie defensemen in the NHL.
Gostisbehere has an incredible 10 goals and 30 points in 35 games this season.
Gostisbehere’s goal tied the game at one after Devils forward Joseph Blandisi scored this beauty in the first period:
Adam Henrique added the game-winning goal in overtime.
It’s the second straight 2-1 victory for the Devils, who also beat the Oilers by the same score on Tuesday night.
The Flyers have just one win in their last five contests.
To add insult to injury, Philadelphia lost Michael Del Zotto to an upper-body injury, per GM Ron Hextall.
Here’s an updated look at the Metropolitan division standings and Wild Card race:
CHICAGO (AP) Blackhawks forward Artemi Panarin is expected to play Saturday night against Anaheim after missing two games with an illness.
Panarin participated in Chicago’s optional morning skate, and coach Joel Quenneville says the rookie will be in the lineup against the Ducks.
The 24-year-old Panarin, who has played on Chicago’s second line with Artem Anisimov and Patrick Kane for most of the season, is second on the team with 34 assists and 52 points. The Blackhawks dropped both games while he was out.
Some good news/bad news for the Rangers.
Exactly one week after suffering a concussion against the Philadelphia Flyers, defenseman Ryan McDonagh returned to the ice with his teammates this morning.
The Rangers captain was wearing a non-contract jersey, but “looked good” according to coach Alain Vigneault.
McDonagh was hurt after taking a punch to the head from Flyers forward Wayne Simmonds (above).
The 26-year-old has missed each of his team’s last three games since suffering the injury.
McDonagh hasn’t been cleared for contact, but that could happen in the next few days according to Vigneault.
The news wasn’t as good for forward Rick Nash, who’s been dealing with a bone bruise in his leg.
Nash has missed each of New York last eight game’s and Vigneault admitted that he’s no longer considered day-to-day.
He’ll miss at least another week.
What a story Joseph Blandisi‘s been for the New Jersey Devils this season.
The 21-year-old played in his first NHL game on Dec. 11 and has stayed with the Devils ever since.
It took him five games to pick up his first career point, but he’s done a whole lot more damage since then.
Blandisi came into Saturday’s action with 10 points in his last 12 games and he added to that against the Flyers.
He opened the scoring with this beautiful between-the-legs goal on goalie Michal Neuvirth (top of the page).
That’s Blandisi’s fourth goal of the season.
Some Twitter reaction to the goal: