It has been over two months since Matt Cooke was bought out by the Minnesota Wild and the 36-year-old is still waiting for a contract.
Star Tribune reporter Michael Russo recently caught up with the veteran forward, who is hoping to play this season.
“I’ve been blessed to play this game for 17 years and make a living out of it and provide opportunity for my family,” Cooke said. “I have fire in my belly, I still feel I can play, I worked hard to make sure if I get the opportunity that I can contribute to whatever team gives me a chance.
“If it doesn’t come into fruition, I’m not going to get upset. It’ll be an opportunity to spend time with my family 24/7 for the first time in awhile.”
Sports hernia surgery limited Cooke to just 29 games with the Wild last season where he had four goals and six assists.
“I was hurt last year. There was some mismanagement on my (hip) injury, and part of that is my fault. It led to me getting hurt twice in one season. I’m 36 years old, I only played 30 games last year and then me getting bought out, that’s a tough scenario (to find a job).
“Patience is a virtue and right now all I’m doing is making sure I stay ready, that I get ready. We’re still three weeks away (from camp).”
Related: Report: Ballard, Leopold leaning towards retirement
Not only do the Minnesota Wild still have to get Devan Dubnyk signed, they also have a trio of restricted free agents — Mikael Granland, Erik Haula and Christian Folin — in need of new deals.
Granlund, the former ninth overall draft pick, finished with 39 points in 2014-15, the fifth most on the team. The 23-year-old’s agent provided an update on contract talks to the StarTribune.
“We’ve been talking on and off since training camp basically,” said Todd Diamond. “I wouldn’t say we’re way off. It’s like a marathon. The last half mile is the most difficult. I would surmise that’s where we are.”
While Granlund, 23, is obviously a big part of the Wild’s future, Dubnyk, an unrestricted free agent, will be GM Chuck Fletcher’s priority until July 1.
According to the StarTribune, Fletcher will meet with Dubnyk in Las Vegas at next week’s NHL Awards and, soon after that, he’ll meet with Dubnyk’s agent, Mike Liut, at the draft in Florida.
Yesterday, the Wild confirmed their intentions to buy out winger Matt Cooke in order to gain some additional room under the cap.
The Minnesota Wild have confirmed their intentions to buy out the remaining season of Matt Cooke’s contract.
“In order to give our team more salary cap flexibility for the upcoming season we needed to make this difficult decision,” said GM Chuck Fletcher in a release. “We thank Matt for his time with the Wild and wish him the best going forward.”
Once Cooke clears waivers, the 36-year-old winger will become an unrestricted free agent, though he cannot re-sign with the Wild. Per CapFriendly, the buyout will result in a cap hit of $500,000 for next season and $1 million in 2016-17.
The Wild need the “salary cap flexibility.” Devan Dubnyk is a pending unrestricted free agent, while forwards Mikael Granlund and Erik Haula are pending RFAs.
According to Michael Russo of the StarTribune, there “has been little headway toward a new deal” for Dubnyk, who will officially become unrestricted on July 1.