Wild wingers file for arbitration, as expected
While it s just a formality, Wild restricted free agents Pierre-Marc Bouchard and Stephane Veilleux filed for arbitration Saturday.

In one week, both players will have arbitration dates set for some time between July 20-Aug. 4, and in the interim, the Wild can continue to negotiate with the two wingers.

"Neither is unexpected nor going to change our efforts to sign them," Wild Assistant General Manager Tom Lynn said of Bouchard and Veilleux electing to protect their rights by electing arbitration.

Bouchard, 24, drafted eighth overall in 2002, has scored 61 goals and 221 points in 354 games for the Wild, including 50 goals and 179 points the past three seasons.

His negotiations are worth watching. The Wild says it plans to offer him a long-term contract, but there's no doubt the team has dangled him on the trade market because he's going to warrant a lucrative contract a year from now as an unrestricted free agent.

The Wild offered Bouchard in a trade proposal for Florida Panthers center Olli Jokinen at the NHL draft, but Jokinen was dealt to Phoenix instead.

If the Wild can't sign Bouchard to a long-term contract, Bouchard would be awarded a one-year deal if it gets to arbitration.

Veilleux, 26, a third-round pick in 2001, scored a career-high 11 goals last season and is one of the Wild s checking-line wingers and energy guys. He's also one year from unrestricted free agency and would be awarded a one-year deal if it gets there.