Apr 18, 2014; Tampa, FL, USA; Tampa Bay Lightning right wing Ryan Callahan (24) skates against the Montreal Canadiens during the third period in game two of the first round of the 2014 Stanley Cup Playoffs at Tampa Bay Times Forum. Montreal Canadiens defeated the Tampa Bay Lightning 4-1. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

NHL Rumors: Wild could target Thomas Vanek, Ryan Callahan

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The Minnesota Wild may have won more than any team who lost in the Stanley Cup playoffs as their six game series loss to the Chicago Blackhawks in the Western Conference Semifinals was a statement to the entire league that they had arrived as a legitimate hockey franchise.

Part of what made the Wild so fun and exciting was their young group of players that were boosted by veterans Zach Parise and Ryan Sutter. With cap space to spend this offseason, Minnesota will be thinking about paying their young players down the road but have big free agent names in mind for potential offers.

According to Michael Russo from the Star Tribune, the Wild could use their wealth in cap space to target another top free agent like Paul Stastny, Ryan Callahan or long time Minnesota hockey fixture Thomas Vanek.

Maybe that means former Gopher and current Stillwater resident Thomas Vanek, Paul Stastny or Ryan Callahan or maybe that means defenseman Matt Niskanen, a Minnesotan who is only 27 and had a career-best 10 goals, 46 points and plus-33 with Pittsburgh this past season.

But Fletcher says the Wild’s at a stage where it doesn’t have to chase players. There is a specific price point and term the Wild’s willing to reach.

The player that makes the most sense is Vanek, as he appears as though he could fit into lines better for the Wild and he’s been coveted for a while. Minnesota failed to trade for him at the deadline though, preferring a deal for Buffalo’s Matt Moulson instead, but Vanek has been a player Wild fans and executives have had eyes on for a while.

Stantsy and Callahan are new names to the conversation, but if they’re legitimate enough for Russo to mention then that’s proof the Wild may be swinging for the fences this offseason.

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Tags: Minnesota Wild

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