• Report: Chances are ‘quite high’ Thomas Vanek is bought out by Wild

    Jared Clinton
    Thomas Vanek (Bruce Kluckhohn/NHLI via Getty Images)

    In 154 games with the Minnesota Wild, Thomas Vanek has scored 39 goals, 93 points and has logged second- and third-line minutes, but at a $6.5 million price tag, it simply hasn’t been enough.

    And with the Wild entering the off-season with little more than $9 million in cap space and only eight forwards under contract, something is going to have to budge. With free agency approaching, it appears more and more likely the pieces that’s going to move is Vanek, and it doesn’t appear the 32-year-old is going to be moving on via trade.

    According to the Minneapolis Star-Tribune’s Michael Russo, it has been indicated that Wild GM Chuck Fletcher has talked with Vanek’s agent about buying out the final season of Vanek’s three-year, $19.5-million deal. TSN’s Bob McKenzie more than backed up Russo’s report, too, saying the “probability…appears quite high” that Vanek will be bought out by Minnesota before next Thursday’s buyout deadline. Read more

  • Auston Matthews: From the Arizona desert to the Center of the Hockey Universe

    Ryan Kennedy
    Auston Matthews. (Minas Panagiotakis/Getty Images)

    Surely, the Matthews residence in Scottsdale, Arizona is a lovely abode. But when Auston Matthews was growing up, he tended not to stay within its walls for very long, even through the Xbox era. That’s because there were always sports to play outdoors. The neighborhood was full of kids up for games of football, soccer and basketball, while organized hockey and baseball went year-round thanks to summer hockey all-star tournaments and Arizona’s perfect ballpark climate.

    Auston’s father, Brian, must shoulder some of the blame for this as well, however. A college pitcher who went on to play semi-pro, he loved to challenge his son in the batter’s box. And the right-handed Brian had more than just fastballs in his arsenal against the left-batting Auston. Brian hurled sinkers and filthy stuff fathers don’t typically give sons. “I was throwing everything at him, mixing it up,” Brian said. “He never knew what was coming. But his hand-eye co-ordination was uncanny.”

    Auston was a catcher and a hard-hitting one at that. Coaches told him there was more money to be made on the diamond than the ice rink, but the Arizona Kid wasn’t having it. When time constraints forced him to choose between sports at 13, baseball lost out handily. “Auston was a better baseball player than he was a hockey player, but the game wasn’t fast enough for him,” said his mom, Ema. “He needed motion.”

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  • Rumor Roundup: Latest on Subban, Lucic, Shattenkirk, Fowler and more

    P.K. Subban. (Getty Images)

    Entering the 2016 NHL draft, the trade speculation is ramping up on several notable NHL stars.

    Topping the list is Montreal Canadiens defenseman P.K. Subban. The trade chatter reached a fever pitch on Thursday when Vancouver Canucks GM Jim Benning admitted he contacted Canadiens GM Marc Bergevin to inquire about Subban. Meanwhile, Edmonton Oilers GM Peter Chiarelli claimed he looked into acquiring the Habs blueliner but the asking price was too high.

    The Montreal Gazette’s Pat Hickey reports Bergevin insists he’s not shopping Subban but he can’t prevent rival clubs from calling about the defenseman.

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  • Flyers ink physical defender Gudas to four-year, $13.4-million deal

    Jared Clinton
    Radko Gudas (Al Bello/Getty Images)

    Philadelphia fans have been known to enjoy when the Flyers have an edge or a feistiness to them, so there’s good reason why Radko Gudas became somewhat of a fan favorite for his take-no-prisoners style of play. And Flyers fans will be glad to know that Gudas isn’t going anywhere.

    It was announced Thursday evening that Gudas, 26, has signed a four-year deal to remain in Philadelphia, and Sportsnet’s Chris Johnston reported the contract is worth $13.4 million. The deal came with Gudas set to become a restricted free agent, having just completed a three-year, $2.975-million deal.

    Gudas’ raise, which is a significant one that will see him earn $3.35 million per season, could come in handy, especially when it comes to paying off potential fines. This past season, Gudas was fined and suspended once by the NHL, but he was involved in at least a handful of questionable, borderline incidents that could have seen him slapped with further suspensions or fines. Read more

  • Could P.K. Subban actually get traded at the NHL draft?

    Ken Campbell
    P.K. Subban (Photo by Billie Weiss/Boston Red Sox/Getty Images)

    BUFFALO – If you thought Dougie Hamilton getting traded at the draft last year was a monumental event, how would you react if P.K. Subban were moved by the Montreal Canadiens? That is not to say it will happen at the draft tomorrow, or ever, but if you’re a ‘Where there’s smoke, there’s fire’ kind of person, you’d have to think this story is getting some serious legs.

    Because there’s smoke. Lots of it. Like more than there is when all the kids decide to hotbox after the prom. There has been chatter for sometime about the possibility of Subban getting dealt, and Vancouver Canucks GM Jim Benning did nothing to quell the wildfire when he told Matt Sekeres and Blake Price of TSN 1040 in Vancouver when asked whether he has called Canadiens GM Marc Bergevin about Subban, “Yeah. I think there’s a lot of teams that have reached out to find out what it would take to try to complete a deal of that magnitude. We’ve been one of the teams that have talked to them, but we haven’t gone down the path to make belief that’s something that’s going to be real or not.”

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  • This man could shake up the first round of the 2016 draft

    Pierre-Luc Dubois.  (Photo by Bill Wippert/NHLI via Getty Images)

    BUFFALO – Weird. Vincent Lecavalier retired. You’d swear it was him, or a magical teenage version of him, sitting on a podium overlooking Lake Erie. That’s what it felt like talking to elite 2016 NHL draft prospect Pierre-Luc Dubois.

    Dubois, a friendly, rosy-cheeked tank of a youngster at 6-foot-3 and 202 pounds, carries himself like a young Vinny. It’s a strange coincidence, as the last time the draft went down in Buffalo was 1998, when Lecavalier went first overall. Dubois was calm yet confident, exuding the poise of a man many years older, seemingly enjoying the questions as he sat outside on a windy Thursday. The novelty hadn’t yet worn off.

    He was endearingly wide-eyed about the draft experience. He said his old QMJHL teammate, Red Wings 2015 first-rounder Evgeny Svechknikov, told him to have fun and not waste the experience. Dubois was gracious about his off-season workouts, in which he encountered the Tampa Bay Lightning’s Alex Killorn and Andrej Sustr and eventually worked up the courage to approach them for advice. Dubois can’t wait to face his childhood idol, Henrik Zetterberg, and couldn’t believe his eyes when, while he attended the Stanley Cup final in San Jose, Pittsburgh Penguins captain Sidney Crosby approached and said, “Maybe I’ll see you soon.”

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  • Panthers fill need for backup goaltender, send Grimaldi to Avalanche for Berra

    Jared Clinton
    Reto Berra (Doug Pensinger/Getty Images)

    One of the Florida Panthers’ needs heading into the off-season was a backup goaltender to relieve Roberto Luongo here and there.

    Al Montoya had performed admirably over the past two seasons in just that role, but with some options for him to go elsewhere — and maybe even earn a larger share of the net duty — the 31-year-old appeared ready to head elsewhere as an unrestricted free agent. That left the Panthers in the market for some backup help, but they took care of that Thursday by shipping Rocco Grimaldi to the Colorado Avalanche for netminder Retto Berra.

    Berra, 29, is locked up at $1.45 million for the upcoming campaign, per CapFriendly, and he’s coming off of a somewhat decent run in the Colorado goal this past season. Read more