Although this morning on NHL Live Doug Wilson stated that he wouldn't trade the negotiating rights to Evgeni Nabokov before he became an unrestricted free agent on July 1st, it appears as if the first day of the draft might have changed his mind. After the first round was completed, and people started to file out of the arena, Wilson was one of the few GM's left on the draft floor.
Had he gotten offers for Nabokov, and how many if he had?
"Have people contacted me about him? Yes. As for how many, let's say more than one and leave it at that," Wilson remarked with a wink.
Although we don't know exactly who these two teams are, it's assumed that one is the Philadelphia Flyers, who are looking for a goaltender this offseason. We did catch Doug Wilson and Philadelphia GM Paul Holmgren chatting multiple times during the draft between picks, and with numerous sources in the Philadelphia media reporting growing interest in the Russian netminder, the possibility of these two teams engaging in a transaction tomorrow is greater than it was yesterday morning.
We also saw Wilson with Vancouver GM Mike Gillis and members of the Carolina Hurricanes camp. Although the speculation here is pure guesswork, the Canucks traded for defenseman Keith Ballard yesterday, setting up a situation where they have a large number of blueliners on the roster. Kevin Bieksa has been linked to trade talks in circles of the media, a player that San Jose could most definitely be interested in. Bieksa brings an ability to play top three minutes immediately for the Sharks, contributing physical acumen and offensive skills to a team that could use an upgrade on the backend.
Bieksa has one year remaining on a $3.75MM deal.
However, even though nothing immediate came from Wilson's conversations, or the multiple chats he had on the phone throughout the day, Wilson told FTF that he was still working into the night.
"I'm all ears," Wilson said in regards to a potential trade. "I'm going back to the hotel and anyone can call me."
Beyond that, Wilson wouldn't elaborate. But behind the shroud of mystery, you could tell that there was something brewing, as it likely always is with the San Jose GM. Perhaps the proposals and offers made on Friday just needed some time to marinate.
Which again brings us back to Nabokov. It's obvious that no team would have been offering a first round selection for a few days of exclusivity with the Sharks' 34 year old netminder, and that probably contributed to a deal not being made. But what is that four day window worth?
Dan Hamhuis is obviously a unique case, but it's one of the more interesting situations that we can remember in which a UFA's rights were traded. That's because in the span of just a few days, Hamhuis' rights have been transferred twice; first to Philadelphia for RFA Ryan Parent, and second to Pittsburgh for a third round selection in next years draft. Rumor has it that Philly never actually negotiated with Hamhuis, so something else must have happened there (perhaps they decided to spend the money on Nabokov, instead)-- that leaves us with the perceived bounty of a mid-round pick for Nabokov, not a poor return by any means for a player San Jose is guaranteed not to re-sign.
We've mentioned Braydon Coburn in trade pieces before, but it's unlikely he's involved here. That doesn't eliminate the possibility that he could be donning teal of course-- we just don't think this is the move that gets it done. And in all honesty, with Hamhuis out of the picture in Philadelphia, the chances that Coburn will be playing somewhere other than the city of Brotherly Love next season is growing less likely every day.
Wilson has always shied away from making rash or impulsive decisions that many other hockey executives fall victim to. It's easy to forget that only the first 30 picks took place on Friday evening, as teams will continue to shape their organizations with the picks and trades they make during tomorrow's six round docket.
Doug Wilson wouldn't specify, though, on how he would handle the second day of the draft. A member of the media asked him if he was looking for picks or roster players coming back to San Jose in a potential deal.
"You're trying to take advantage of an old defenseman," Wilson said, flashing his trademark raised eyebrow and grin. "Just because I didn't wear a helmet."
The truth is, that old defenseman is usually the one taking advantage of others this time of year.
Even if he didn't wear a helmet.