NHL Rumors: Wild GM Candidates … Buffalo Sabres Notes on Gusev, Gardiner and Ristolainen
Some Minnesota Wild GM candidates

Michael Russo: The Minnesota Wild didn’t end up meeting with Ron Hextall yesterday about their general manager opening. Sources did say that they are close to setting up an initial interview though.

Dave Schwartz: Other potential GM candidates for the Wild include Tom Fitzgerald, Dean Lombardi, Dave Nonis, Bill Zito and Peter Chiarelli. It’s not known who has been contacted yet.

Sabres mailbag on Nikia Gusev, second-line center, Jake Gardiner and Rasmus Ristolainen

Lance Lysowski of the Buffalo News: (mailbag) The Buffalo Sabres should have been in on the Nikita Gusev trade talks with the Vegas Golden Knights, but can’t confirm if they did or did not. The Sabres had already traded some of their draft picks and have some salary cap issues of their own with three RFAs left to sign. Sabres GM Jason Botterill may have been more focused on moving a right-handed defenseman, or maybe they are eyeing a different top-six forward.

The cost to acquire a second-line center is never cheap and Botterill likely isn’t interested in moving high picks and top prospects. The Sabres will have future options at No. 2 with Casey Mittelstadt and Dylan Cozens, but if they could find one to fill the void for now, they should. They will likely fill from within for now though. Defenseman Rasmus Ristolainen may not be enough to land someone like Ryan Nugent-Hopkins.

Unrestricted free agent defenseman Jake Gardiner would definitely help the Sabres, but the cost of fitting in his salary doesn’t seem possible right now. They have about $3.1 million in cap space with three RFAs. They could gain cap space by trading Ristolainen and/or buying out Vladimir Sobotka, but they also have to think about cap issues beyond this season.

Believe the Ristolainen still has value around the league and that teams would be interested, but the asking price remains really high. The Sabres want the value of a top-pairing defenseman. believes that Ristolainen won’t be with the team in training camp.