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The Athletic's Michael Russo, one of the best and most trusted beat reporters in hockey, recently did a deep dive into the Minnesota Wild and their summer plans.
It is jam-packed with information, some of which pertains to the Calgary Flames.
I'm going to touch on the points that do, although I'd still recommend reading the article in full
Zucker knows by now that he was awfully close to being dealt at the February trade deadline to the Calgary Flames for Michael Frolik and a high draft pick.
We knew the trade was centered around Zucker and Frolik, with Calgary including a sweetener. We didn't know what that sweetener was. A quality draft pick makes sense because a) Zucker is younger; b) Zucker is better and; c) Zucker has more term on his contract.
The exact pick is unknown but the Flames don't have a 2nd this year and I don't think a 3rd counts as a "high draft pick". It's probably safe to say the pick, be it a 1st or 2nd, was going to come from the 2020 draft. I very much doubt they'd consider moving a 2019 1st already being without a 2nd, so it'd make sense to defer to a year from now.
I'm interested to see if the Flames revisit those discussions and are able to get something done. I thought Zucker's fairly strong finish (he produced at a 27 goal, 51 point pace over the last 21 games) would serve as a bit of an eye opener and have the Wild reconsidering a move. That sure doesn't sound like the case.
The one player multiple sources say Fenton is dangling big-time is Jason Zucker, who saw his goal total last season drop from 33 to 21 in the first year of a five-year, $27.5-million deal.
Fenton sold low on Nino Niederreiter and seems poised to do so with Zucker.
Speaking of Niederreiter, Fenton is already looking to cut bait with the key piece – check that, only piece – he fetched for one of the league's better possession-driving, two-way wingers.
And you can bet your last dollar Fenton is doing everything he possibly can right now to throw Victor Rask and his three years left at $4 million annually into a bigger trade perhaps in exchange for another team’s problematic contract.
Why is this relevant to the Flames? Well, the Wild are looking at any and all potential scorers to improve their offense and the Flames have a "problematic contract" they could work into a Rask trade.
I'm referring to James Neal, of course. I don't know if it's simply opinion, or anything Russo has heard, but he mentioned Neal as a possibility.
Other potential trade targets if one considers them top-6 players: Calgary’s James Neal and Frolik, Anaheim’s Daniel Sprong, L.A.’s Tyler Toffoli
It sure seems like a stretch to call Neal a top-6 forward after his 2018-19 campaign, although it's worth noting his struggles were exaggerated by a career low 4.96 SH%. Previously, Neal had never shot below 10.36%, and only once below 11.34%.
If the Wild believe he can still shoot, and did have luck working against him, perhaps they'd be willing to gamble on a trade centered around Rask ($4M for three more years) and Neal ($5.75M for four more years).
The Flames would have to sweeten the pot, I'd think, but a deal like that could be within the realm of possibility considering how starved the Wild are for *any* scoring talent.
As awful as Neal's season was, he still managed to score more than double the amount of goals Rask did.
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