Michael Russo has covered the National Hockey League since 1995. He has covered the Minnesota Wild for the Star Tribune since 2005, after 10 years of covering the Florida Panthers for the Sun-Sentinel. He uses “Russo’s Rants” to feed a wide-ranging hockey-centric discussion with readers, and can be heard weekly on KFAN (100.3 FM) radio and seen weekly on Fox Sports North.

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Fletcher working to trade Sykora; Harding, Burns vs. Red Wings?

Posted by: Michael Russo under Wild news, Wild practice Updated: January 20, 2010 - 5:18 PM

Good afternoon from the Star Tribune building on Portland, where I made a rare all-day appearance. I dusted off my desk and even learned how to turn on the computer. Still don't know my work phone password, so if you left me a msg two or three years ago and didn't hear back, that's why.

Russo Radio coming up in-studio at KSTP at 6 p.m.

Bad news: I blame Judd Zulgad and Chip Scoggins for this, but I had a webcam installed on my laptop and now you'll get to see my sickly mug as well as read my sickly copy. Between Twitter, Russo's Rants, Webcamming, Facebook and Radio, what's my day job again? I'm getting overexposed.

I had a conversation with General Manager Chuck Fletcher this afternoon regarding veteran Petr Sykora, who cleared waivers. The next step? Trying to trade him.

As I mentioned on the previous blog, Fletcher and Sykora's agent, Allan Walsh, are working the phones to try to find Sykora another job. This is a cap world, with 11 teams up within a million of the $56.8 million camp. So between cap and budgetary issues (i.e. real money), Fletcher knew Sykora would likely not be claimed. Most teams, if interested in Sykora, would need the Wild to take back salary. Fletcher is willing to do that if it's a player that makes sense.

There are definitely interested teams and this should be resolved in the next few days. He's not sending him to Houston. Sykora's not willing to play in Europe at this late juncture. He wants to stay in the NHL, and Fletcher will try to make that happen. If he can't trade him, re-entry waivers are always an option (getting another team to take him at half price, or about 335 K each).

Fletcher expects to be able to make a move though. Some of the interested teams have cap problems as it is and might need to make a move first to accomodate a trade or roster addition.

Robbie Earl also cleared waivers. He'll stay with the team as of now. Lots of questions as to why Earl was put on waivers. First of all, he would have had to at some point to get to Houston, and do the math, he's eventually going to have to get to Houston. When Brent Burns plays -- and there really is a chance it could be tomorrow apparently, the Wild will be at the maximum 23-man roster. Clayton Stoner, who's got a groin injury, will likely have to be put on injured reserve, but when he's off, that's 24.

Also, and this is the big reason, waivers are a 24-hour process. So if a trade or waiver addition comes up, with the Wild now at its max roster, Fletcher wanted the flexibility to move a player out immediately so he can move a player in. Earl's that guy. "If he plays well, he'll stay. If he doesn't, he won't. If we find a better option, we have the flexibility," said Fletcher. He can be on the roster for 10 games or 30 days before he'd require waivers again.

Marty Havlat and Marek Zidlicky didn't practice today but are expected to play.

Also, Josh Harding has stopped 63 of 64 shots. Nik Backstrom has given up three or more goals in eight of the last 10 games. Today, Todd Richards, who usually doesn't keep his goalie decisions a secret, apparently wouldn't tell the media (Stensaas covered) who would start against the Red Wings. That may mean it's Harding. If so, it'd be his first home start since Jan. 3, 2009, against Detroit. He hasn't won a home start since Jan. 2008 (Phoenix).

OK, that's it. I've got to get to the radio station. Talk to you tomorrow. 

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