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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Kuemper's agent on KHL threat: "Darcy has to play somewhere this year"

Posted by: Michael Russo under Wild off-season news, Wild training camp Updated: September 8, 2014 - 5:05 PM

As an addition to the previous blog (which can be read here) on unsigned goalie Darcy Kuemper’s contract stalemate with the Wild, I subsequently spoke by phone with Kuemper’s agent, Jeff Helperl, about his negotiations with General Manager Chuck Fletcher.

“Basically, Chuck and I are stuck,” said Helperl, who confirmed he has spoken to teams in Russia’s Kontinental Hockey League about signing Kuemper if he is unable to get a contract done with the Wild.

Helperl said he is asking the Wild for a one-year, one-way contract (not big term at big money, as previously reported), meaning he would be paid his NHL salary whether he plays in Minnesota or at American Hockey League Iowa.

Helperl said the Wild is offering Kuemper a two-year deal. The first year would be a two-way deal (meaning Kuemper is paid a lower salary if/when he plays in the AHL and a higher salary if/when he plays in the NHL) and the second year would be a one-way deal (NHL salary in either place). Jason Zucker signed a similarly-designed contract earlier this offseason.

Kuemper doesn’t require waivers to get to Iowa, which Helperl knows means Kuemper could be destined with Josh Harding and Niklas Backstrom both under contract.

“It comes down to Darcy has to play somewhere this year,” Helperl said. “Minnesota, they’re stuck on giving Darcy a two-way deal and I think Darcy deserves more. I’ve basically told Chuck, ‘we’re looking at a one-way deal on a one-year contract.' They want to do a two-year contract. I just kind of told him where things are at. By no means are we shooting for the moon at all. I just want to get a one-way contract and get Darcy playing more games, and wherever that’s going to be, it’s going to be.”

Helperl said last weekend, there was a two-day window where KHL teams were able to discard players. He said, “I had [KHL] teams contact me, so that’s where it all started from.”

Asked if that means Kuemper will sign with the KHL if the Wild doesn’t offer him a one-way contract, Helperl said, “Well, he’s going to play somewhere, so it could happen.”

From the Wild’s standpoint though, Kuemper does have a chance to play “somewhere” even on a two-way contract. If he doesn’t make Minnesota out of camp, he would start in Iowa. If he proves in camp that he’s the Wild’s best goalie, the two-way is insignificant because he would make his NHL salary with the big club anyway.

This sounds more like Helperl is just trying to design the contract to give Kuemper the best chance to play games in the NHL as opposed to the AHL. In other words, if Kuemper's on a one-way, the theory is the less likely the Wild would be to send him to Iowa because the team would have to pay him his NHL salary there.

I asked Helperl if Kuemper really would prefer to play in Russia over potentially playing in Iowa: “He needs to get going. He needs to get playing. He needs to try to figure out where things are at [in his career],” Helperl said. “I’ve never seen him more confident as a player and how hard he’s worked this summer. Basically, Chuck and I are stuck, so that’s where it’s at. It’s easy as it can be.”

Wild players officially report for training camp next Thursday with players taking the ice for the first time next Friday. Is there a deadline as to when Kuemper will decide on the KHL?

“The days are coming where camp is going to get started. We’ll see when camp starts and see where we’re at,” Helperl said. “It’s an ongoing, moving target all the time. I last spoke to Chuck I think last week and I don’t think we moved very far ahead. It’s pretty simple. We’re looking for a one-year, one-way deal.”

In the meantime, Harding and Backstrom are skating daily and are ready for training camp. Helperl said, “Chuck keeps reminding me over and over again how healthy they are and how good they’re looking right now, so what am I supposed to do from that?”

Most KHL deals have NHL out-clauses. If Kuemper chooses the KHL, I asked Helperl if his contract would have an out-clause that would allow Kuemper to return to the Wild if the team gets into a goaltending pickle like last year. Helperl said, “I don’t know that. I don’t know how the contract’s going to be worded. I don’t know that.”

Fletcher declined to comment on Kuemper.

Wild players are skating together daily until training camp. Helperl said he’s not sure yet if Kuemper will take part in that. “We’ll see how talks go from now to then.”

Unsigned Nino Niederreiter told me he arrives back in Minnesota on Wednesday. He is expected to take part in these captain’s practices. As I mentioned on the previous blog, the hope is that a contract is agreed upon in the next week so he reports to camp on time.

Darcy Kuemper exploring KHL defection option

Posted by: Michael Russo under Wild off-season news, Wild training camp Updated: September 8, 2014 - 4:26 PM

With most Minnesota-based NHLers having departed for their team cities, the Wild’s informal captain’s skates officially began today.

Twenty-one guys were on the ice today. In order of me spotting them, Niklas Backstrom, Josh Harding, Matt Cooke, Mikko Koivu, Jason Pominville, Ryan Suter, Charlie Coyle, Thomas Vanek, Stu Bickel, Jared Spurgeon, Jason Zucker, Tyler Graovac, Kurtis Gabriel, Jordan Schroeder, Keith Ballard, Stephane Veilleux, Justin Fontaine, Kyle Brodziak, Erik Haula, Christian Folin and Cody Almond were in the house today.

Zach Parise, who had been skating with the NHLers and Wild guys the past few weeks, is in New York representing the Wild in the annual NHL national media blitz. He’ll be rejoining Tuesday or Wednesday.

So, only sure-thing roster guys not here today: Mikael Granlund, Jonas Brodin, Marco Scandella and unsigned Nino Niederreiter. Jon Blum is expected to join Tuesday.

Another guy not here is unsigned goalie Darcy Kuemper, who is in the middle of a big game of chicken with the Wild right now.

As reported in July, Kuemper had the right to file for arbitration. When he chose not to, the alarm was sounded that a contract battle could be brewing. As I mentioned then, Kuemper’s agent battled the Wild oh-so close to that June 1 deadline prior to his entry-level contract getting done. The one positive about arbitration is there’s always a resolution. File arb, and both sides either settle on a new deal before or after the hearing or allow a neutral arbitrator to determine the contract on a one- or two-year award.

When that didn’t happen, you just knew the threat of not arriving to camp on time would be an option.

As reported throughout the summer, Harding and Backstrom are healthy. With both goalies ready for training camp and on one-way contracts, there’s a very good chance that unless Kuemper outperforms both in camp that he could be destined to start in Iowa.

Kuemper doesn’t require waivers either, so the Wild has been offering him a two-way contract (meaning lower salary if he plays in the AHL, higher salary if he plays in the NHL).

Quick update: Kuemper’s agent talked to me this afternoon, so I'll update the blog a bit later. Kuemper is  looking for a one-way contract (NHL salary if he played in the AHL or NHL).

Kuemper's agent confirmed Kuemper is investigating his options to play in Russia’s Kontinental Hockey League. If Kuemper chooses this route, the Wild would not lose his NHL rights and Kuemper would have an out-clause if the Wild came calling. The KHL threat is not a shock; many unsigned restricted free agents this close to camp use the KHL as a threat and, I can tell you, the Wild typically doesn’t acknowledge KHL threats.

At this young stage of his career, with Kuemper having few contract rights beyond that right of filing for arbitration (which he didn’t use), the only real leverage he may have right now is threatening to play in Europe.

The problem Kuemper has is as long as Harding and Backstrom are healthy and looking like they’ll be fine to start the season, GM Chuck Fletcher, who declined to comment on Kuemper, is likely to stand his ground.

Harding, arguably the Wild’s first-half MVP last year until complications with multiple sclerosis, has been on the ice during all these informal sessions the past few weeks and looks and feels great. Backstrom was out there today, also looked good and said he feels healthy heading into camp. Last year at this time, he was complaining of soreness and tightness in his hips and groin and this time said his movements feel “much smoother” on the ice.

"I want to get back to the level I'm used to being at," said Backstrom, the Wild's all-time leader in victories. "So far everything has been going good, so everything should be good when camp starts. I'm excited for this season."

The risk, of course, of not signing Kuemper is that Backstrom is coming off two more season-ending surgeries (separate hip and abdominal surgeries) and Harding’s MS has forced him to miss significant time the past two seasons, including the entire second half last season. The Wild proved last year how important it was to have Kuemper in the minors to save its bacon when Harding went down and Backstrom was playing hurt. In fact, the Wild proved last year the importance of having four goalies. When Kuemper began to struggle and then sustained a concussion, the Wild was lucky Ilya Bryzgalov was acquired. Bryzgalov went 7-1-3 down the stretch.

--From the Wild’s standpoint, Kuemper, 24, has limited NHL experience (32 regular-season games, 26 last year, and eight playoff games, six last year) and coming off two concussions (one in the playoffs in Game 7 of the first round). He has shown promise at times and looked shaky at others, had a chance to file for arb and it didn’t and with two NHL goalies on one-ways, the Wild is unwilling to give him term and dollars without a bigger sample size. The Wild also knows that if worse comes to worse, there’s always Bryzgalov available as a free agent and he has made it publicly clear through his agent, Ritch Winter, that he wants to play in Minnesota.

--From Kuemper’s standpoint, the Wild’s presumed Goalie of the Future saved the team’s hide twice last season – once in the second half when the season looked like it may unravel and once in the first round of the playoffs when the Wild returned home down 0-2 against Colorado with Bryzgalov in net. He went 3-1 in his next four starts, including back-to-back home starts to even the series, before Bryzgalov replaced him with a deficit in Game 7’s come-from-behind win. Kuemper’s agent is also well aware of the injury/illness concerns in goal if Kuemper isn’t in the fold.

I asked Fletcher on KFAN earlier this summer about the potential battle unfolding with Kuemper. Here is a link to Fletcher’s comments from that blog: “I wouldn’t say there’s been enough conversations to say it’s going to be a battle. I mean I guess every negotiation is a battle, but the agent is always trying to get the best contract he can for the player and we are trying to do what is right for the team. It’s always a little trickier I think on our side, the agent obviously wants to represent his client. We have an obligation to every player on our team and if we do a bad contract or spend too much money on a player it impacts our ability to be competitive in other areas. It’s not that we’re trying to fight the player, we’re trying to protect the team. It’s a pretty big obligation. We are certainly going to take our time to get the right deal.

“Darcy certainly has great potential and played very well in stretches for us this season, but at the end of the day I think he’s played around 30 games in the NHL. Usually this isn’t the time to fight for the big contract. We feel Darcy right now is trying to establish himself in the league and once he does that it’ll be a little simpler to come up with terms. Our focus right now is just on getting good deals with both of them. If we can get the right deal for the player and for the team, then it’ll give us a chance to be competitive. If we spend too much money on players before they’re ready to get the money they feel they deserve it impacts a lot of other things down the road. If we can get a deal done tomorrow, great, if it takes even into training camp, it’s really not a big deal. We’ve got great depth, we’ve got a lots of players. We are going to have to what’s right financially to keep this thing moving forward.”

There is little doubt the Wild wants to get Kuemper signed. But there is a price point and term and type of contract (one-way or two) that Fletcher doesn’t seem willing to budge on.

As for Niederreiter, who turned 22 today, he is also unsigned. His agent also hasn’t replied to an interview request made Sunday. I hear the Wild and Niederreiter are also a ways apart, but as I have said before, this stuff typically works itself out and the hope is a deal can get done by the time players report for camp next Thursday and take the ice for the first time next Friday.

The Wild feels it has enough depth to get by for awhile if Niederreiter’s contract takes longer to reconcile, and his delay could theoretically open the door wider for others like Jason Zucker. However, Niederreiter has one of the Wild’s best shots and is one of the team’s bigger bodies and most physical players. He certainly showed his value as well in Game 7 of the first round, setting up Jared Spurgeon’s late tying goal and scoring two goals off blistering shots, including the series winner in overtime.

As I have mentioned before, this is the negotiation worth keeping an eye on because it absolutely affects Granlund, Coyle, Haula and even Brodin. Those players can all become restricted free agents next summer, which is why Fletcher says that he will “try to get ahead of it” and sign some of these guys to extensions before it gets to next summer.

Fletcher has previously said he is trying to sign Niederreiter to a contract length of two to four years. A two-year bridge deal seems to make the most sense for both sides. It’s hard for the Wild to project out exactly what type of player Niederreiter will be and two years gives Niederreiter enough time to put up some big numbers to get the big contract. He scored 14 goals and 36 points in 81 games last season.

Correct me if I’m wrong because many of you have better memories than me: This will be my 10th season covering the Wild and I don’t think the Wild has had any unsigned players heading into training camp in my tenure. In fact, if Kuemper or Niederreiter aren’t signed before, I think this may be the first since Marian Gaborik and Pascal Dupuis in 2003-04. Again, correct me if I’m wrong.

Jason Zucker excited to "perform" in training camp; Josh Harding on special Upper Deck trading card

Posted by: Michael Russo under Wild off-season news, Wild training camp Updated: September 5, 2014 - 10:11 AM

Moments after Nino Niederreiter scored an overtime winner against Nashville to usher the Wild into last year’s Olympic break, coach Mike Yeo announced that Jason Zucker would have a “minor procedure” stemming from blocking a scorching Shane Doan shot above the right knee late in a Jan. 9 game at Phoenix.

Zucker played on the injury for a month. Behind the scenes prior to the procedure, Zucker was getting treatment on his leg before and after practices and games, and he even played some of his best hockey during that time.

Yeo, Zucker and the entire Wild organization figured the speedy winger would be back in the lineup three weeks after the procedure once the schedule resumed in Edmonton. As it turns out, Zucker did return to the ice for a few skates after the break, but he would never play again due to complications either during the first surgery or aggravation while rehabbing.

What exactly happened is still unclear, but GM Chuck Fletcher said March 20 that Zucker needed a subsequent season-ending surgery that was meant to repair a tendon in Zucker’s right quadriceps. He called it a fluky injury and one he never heard of before.

“I’m not going to go into details, but there was a complication,” Zucker said. “It didn’t go as planned on the recovery portion of it. I think all of it was not exactly as anyone thought, so I had to have the second surgery, and that was a big blow. I think we all thought it was going to be 10 days, 14 days and back. I was excited about not having to deal with it anymore and it turned out to be more serious. It was definitely tough seeing the team play and you’re not, but it was great seeing them do so well (second round of the playoffs). From that standpoint, it was awesome watching that.”

Regardless, Zucker, 22, has been skating all week with many Wild teammates and several other NHLers at Braemar and says he’s “100 percent ready to go back to normal. It was definitely frustrating, but it’s part of hockey. Good thing for me is Chuck and the guys had faith in me to give me another contract and give me another chance.”

Zucker, who has scored eight goals and four assists in 47 regular-season games and an overtime winner and an assist in five playoff games, signed a two-year contract this offseason. The first year is a two-way deal, the second year a one-way deal. In addition, Zucker still doesn’t require waivers to get to Iowa, meaning there’s no doubt he has to play his way onto the team once training camp opens Sept. 18.

However, with Niederreiter still unsigned and potential spots on the third and fourth line, Zucker says he’s up for the challenge.

“I’ve always believed that the door’s always open,” Zucker said. “Even if you have the best guys on your team, if you perform, they’ll try to make room for you if you’re playing well and doing the right things. That’s what I focused on this summer. [Thomas] Vanek’s a great addition and all the rest of the guys are great players. I hope I just can help that out.”

Zucker, who does look thicker and as fast as ever on the ice, said he dedicated himself on and off the ice this summer in an attempt to make the team.

“I don’t think I’ve ever been more excited for a hockey season,” Zucker said. “I was home [in Las Vegas] for five months. I was doing rehab six days a week, I was in the gym six days a week just making sure that every little bit was ready to go for training camp. I want to do everything I can. I think I went back and watched every single game I played three times just to watch video of myself. I just wanted to do everything I could, myself, to be ready for this year. The rest is obviously how I perform in camp.”

Photo Credit: Upper Deck

As part of Upper Deck’s Heroic Inspirations campaign, Wild goalie Josh Harding will be featured on a collectible trading card he autographed and inscribed for charitable purposes. In a press release, Upper Deck said, "The goal of the card is to give people suffering from MS hope and to raise awareness for Josh Harding’s charity; Harding’s Hope."

The 2013 Masterton Trophy winner and 2013-14 NHL goals-against average and save percentage leader signed and inscribed, “My inspiration is my father,” on 25 cards that have been inserted into packs of the 2014-15 NHL® O-Pee-Chee series. Harding has signed and inscribed other versions of the card with some of his other inspirations. These additional autographed and inscribed cards will be available with a donation to the charity through the Harding’s Hope website at the start of the 2014-15 season.

As I've mentioned previously, Harding has been taking part in all the NHL skates and looks ready to go for training camp.

It's Sept. 1, and Kuemper, Niederreiter remain unsigned; Nick Seeler transferring to Gophers

Posted by: Michael Russo under Wild off-season news Updated: September 1, 2014 - 12:57 PM

It’s Sept. 1 (happy Labor Day everybody), meaning in 17 days, Wild players report to training camp for physicals and fitness testing. On Sept. 19, players take the ice for the first time. The only question right now is whether Nino Niederreiter and Darcy Kuemper will be there with the rest of their teammates.

As of now, both restricted free agents remain unsigned, meaning their contract squabbles with the Wild threaten their on-time arrival to camp. General Manager Chuck Fletcher said Friday at the State Fair that conversations remain ongoing but gave no indication that either is close to being signed. There’s more than a dozen quality restricted free agents around the NHL still unsigned, including (per capgeek.com) Niederreiter’s junior linemate Ryan Johansen (Columbus), St. Louis’ Jaden Schwartz, Boston’s Torey Krug, Colorado’s Tyson Barrie (Edmonton just signed Justin Schultz to a one-year, $3.675 million deal, so there’s a potential comparable), Dallas’ Brenden Dillon and Cody Eakin, Boston’s Reilly Smith, Anaheim’s Devante Smith-Pelly, the Rangers’ John Moore, Nashville’s Ryan Ellis and Detroit’s Danny DeKeyser.

Usually, this stuff works itself out right before camp begins. Kuemper is 24. Niederreiter turns 22 on Sept. 8, so at such young ages and with such competition in camp, it certainly won’t help matters if they miss the start of camp.

From the Wild’s perspective, Fletcher is at least painting this as, “not a concern,” because goalies Josh Harding and Niklas Backstrom are healthy and ready to go. Up front, the Wild has a number of forwards competing for top-6 or bottom-6 roles. For instance, Niederreiter’s late arrival could open the door for Jason Zucker, who has a big camp ahead of him. If you remember, last year, Zucker had a sub-par camp and then injured his groin at the same time Mikael Granlund began to excel in camp. That pretty much set in stone Zucker’s start in Iowa. Justin Fontaine has the ability to play any role. This year, the Wild also has players like Cody Almond, Stephane Veilleux, Kurtis Gabriel, Brett Sutter, Michael Keranen and Jordan Schroeder that will battle for roster spots up front. So, there’s some insurance.

“We’d rather have a contract done, but these things happen. You’d like everything to be clean and simple, but it doesn’t always happen that way,” Fletcher said. “We’ll continue to try to etch into it.”

The Niederreiter negotiations, to me, are the most compelling because of how many Wild forwards can become restricted free agents next summer – Granlund, Charlie Coyle and Erik Haula. Fletcher said again that in the next couple months, he’ll talk to the agents of all of next summer’s potential RFA’s (including Jonas Brodin and Marco Scandella) to “try to get ahead of it.” (aka, extensions). “In some cases, we may need to wait until next summer.”

But with so many young players to re-sign soon, Fletcher feels he has to get the Niederreiter deal right or it’ll affect the others.

Also, Fletcher told me as of now he’s not anticipating signing any more unrestricted free agents. It’s too early to say if he’ll invite any unsigned free agents in for tryouts. Few unsigned players would accept tryouts at this early juncture anyway (last year, the Wild invited David Steckel. He didn’t make the team, started in Iowa and eventually signed with Anaheim). Fletcher says he’s probably at least answered the phone call of agents for more than a dozen unsigned free agents. Some I know of include Ilya Bryzgalov, Ryan Malone, Paul Bissonnette and George Parros.

Fletcher’s leaning toward seeing what the Wild has in camp and then reacting if he needs to.

“Obviously things change. I mean, if we had a couple long holdouts, maybe that changes the thinking, but as of now, I want to give the kids like Zuck a chance,” Fletcher said. “Like, Justin Fontaine is a pretty good hockey player and was pretty good in that Chicago series. This guy has a chance to be a 20-goal scorer. If you keep bringing in vets, how are these kids ever going to play?”

-- Nick Seeler, a fifth-round pick by the Wild in 2011 and former Eden Prairie High defenseman, has transferred from the University of Nebraska-Omaha to the University of Minnesota, according to sources. @hammyhockey on Twitter was the first to report the news last week.

Seeler left UNO last month. He will have to sit out this season for the Gophers but will be allowed to practice. Not playing for a year obviously isn’t the most ideal scenario for his development, but it is what it is and he’ll at least be able to practice daily with one of the best college programs in the country and work with Don Lucia, Mike Guentzel and Grant Potulny.

Seeler is 21, so he is too old to play junior. So his options were to sign with the Wild and play in Iowa, play in Europe or transfer schools and sit out a year. From talking to the Wild, it was pretty clear early on that getting his education was very important to Seeler and his family, so this route makes sense.

Gopher fans should like Seeler next year. Real good player and brings a nastiness that intrigues that Wild and should make him a fan and coaching favorite at the U. Here's his bio.

-- Again, if you missed my Q and A at the State Fair with coach Mike Yeo, here is the link. Also, the inaugural Mike Yeo Classic, a bass tournament to raise money for local Minnesota charities, takes place on Lake Minnetonka on Sept. 9. For more information on how to fish with Matt Cooke, Justin Fontaine or Keith Ballard, click this link.

-- Important dates: The Traverse City prospects tournament is Sept. 12-16. The roster can be seen on the previous blog. Camp starts Sept. 19 on the ice (players report Sept. 18). Sept. 20, regular-season single-game tickets are on sale at 10 a.m. at Xcel Energy Center’s box office and 12 p.m. at Ticketmaster and wild.com. Preseason single-game tickets are on sale now. Sept. 22 is the first preseason game in Winnipeg. Sept. 27 is the first preseason game at home vs. Winnipeg. The regular season opens Oct. 9 vs. Colorado at 8 p.m.

-- And to refresh your memory,

WILD DEPTH CHART

Here’s a look at how the Wild is shaping up to look like this season. The depth chart is my opinion. Obviously, lines change, roles change, etc., and Yeo said lines Day One will change by Day Two as he experiments throughout camp.

In parentheses, each player’s cap hits with some assistance from the web site, www.capgeek.com.

Forwards

Left wing                         Center                          Right wing

Zach Parise ($7.5+M)       Mikael Granlund (900K)  Jason Pominville (5.6M)

Thomas Vanek ($6.5M)   Mikko Koivu (6.75M)     Charlie Coyle (900K)

Matt Cooke (2.5M)            Erik Haula (900K)           Nino Niederreiter (RFA)

Jason Zucker (900+K)        Kyle Brodziak (2.83 M)    Justin Fontaine (1M)

Cody Almond (550K)

Vying for spots: Zucker, Almond, Stephane Veilleux (587,500), Brett Sutter (600K), Michael Keranen (792,500), Jordan Schroeder (600K), Joel Rechlicz (600K), Brett Bulmer (780K), Kurtis Gabriel (667K), Zack Mitchell (615K), Tyler Graovac (747,500), Zack Phillips ($863,333), Brady Brassart ($836,667), Raphael Bussieres ($759,167), Curt Gogol ($551,667).

Defensemen

Left Defense                     Right Defense

Ryan Suter (7.5+M)          Jared Spurgeon (2.66M)

Marco Scandella (1.025M) Jonas Brodin (1.4+M)

Keith Ballard (1.5M)          Christian Folin (925K)

Jon Blum (675K)

Vying for spots: Folin, Blum, Matt Dumba (894,167), Justin Falk (700K), Stu Bickel (600K), Gustav Olofsson (795K), Guillaume Gelinas ($596,667), Colton Jobke ($551,667).

Goalies

Niklas Backstrom (3.42M)

Josh Harding (1.9M)

Darcy Kuemper (RFA)

* Kuemper can be sent to the minors without waivers even if he receives a one-way deal.

Vying for spots: Johan Gustafsson (665K), John Curry (600K).

  

Total cap hit roughly: $57,413,008.

Available cap space: $10.88 million roughly (I based this on a $68.3 million salary-cap ceiling; NHL salary cap next season is $69 million, but the Wild will be charged a bonus overage of a little less than $700,000). Note, the $10.88 million excludes re-signing restricted free agents Niederreiter and Kuemper. The Wild will almost certainly not be a cap ceiling team for the first time in a long time. Its actual payroll (real dollars paid out) is at above $67 million, and all teams have internal budgets.

Minnesota Wild's Traverse City prospects tournament roster

Posted by: Michael Russo under Wild news Updated: August 28, 2014 - 10:58 AM

Wild players report for physicals and fitness testing Sept. 18 with camp officially opening on the ice Sept. 19, but as always, the Wild will take part in a prospects tournament in Traverse City, Mich.

The information and roster is below.

If you missed yesterday's Q and A with Wild coach Mike Yeo at the Star Tribune booth at the State Fair, here is a replay. Good primer for training camp.

I will also be at the State Fair KFAN booth with Paul Allen on Friday starting at 9:55 a.m. talking Wild.


MINNESOTA WILD TO PARTICIPATE IN 2014 NHL PROSPECTS TOURNAMENT IN TRAVERSE CITY, MICHIGAN, SEPTEMBER 12-16
 
    SAINT PAUL, Minn. – Minnesota Wild General Manager Chuck Fletcher today announced the National Hockey League (NHL) club will participate in the 2014 NHL Prospects Tournament in Traverse City, Mich., Sept. 12-16. Wild prospects will compete in the tournament’s Gordie Howe Division with the Columbus Blue Jackets, Detroit Red Wings and St. Louis Blues. The Buffalo Sabres, Carolina Hurricanes, Dallas Stars and New York Rangers will play in the Ted Lindsay Division.
 
    Minnesota’s roster features a total of 12 Wild draft picks: G Alexandre Belanger (2013, 7th round), LW Raphael Bussieres (2012, 2nd round), C Reid Duke (2014, 6th round), D Matt Dumba (2012, 1st round), D Tanner Faith (2014, 5th round), RW Kurtis Gabriel (2013, 3rd round), C Tyler Graovac (2011, 7th round), G Johan Gustafsson (2010, 6th round), RW Pavel Jenys (2014, 7th round), D Dylan Labbe (2013, 4th round), C Chase Lang (2014, 6th round) and D Gustav Olofsson (2013, 2nd round) along with four free agents signed during the 2013-14 season: C Brady Brassart, D Christian Folin, D Guillaume Gelinas and RW Zack Mitchell. Iowa Wild Head Coach Kurt Kleinendorst and Assistant Coach Steve Poapst will lead the Wild prospects.
 
    Fans can visit www.wild.com for tournament updates including reports from Assistant General Manager Brent Flahr. Minnesota is set to open its 2014 Training Camp presented by Andersen Windows on Friday, Sept. 19. A complete training camp schedule and roster will be announced prior to the start of training camp. 
 
2014 MINNESOTA WILD TRAVERSE CITY PROSPECTS TOURNAMENT ROSTER 
FORWARDS                  HT     WT    SHOOTS   BORN     BIRTHPLACE                    2013-14 TEAM   LGE          GP   G     A     PTS   PIM                                        ACQ
82 Olivier Archambault   6-0     190    Left            2/16/93    Le Gardeur, Quebec             Quebec                QMJHL      38    19    27    46      37                                        INVITEE
80 Jessey Astles              6-2     205    Left            6/4/93      Coquitlam, British Columbia                            Tri-City      WHL        50    11      9          20                                        67      INVITEE
62 Brady Brassart            6-2     196    Right          6/15/93    Vernon, British Columbia    Calgary                WHL          70    35    50    85      94                                        FA/14
49 Raphael Bussieres       6-1     198    Left            11/5/93    Longueuil, Quebec               Iowa                    AHL          61    5      14    19      51                                        EN/12
75 Reid Duke                   6-0     189    Right          1/28/96    Calgary, Alberta                   Lethbridge           WHL          62    15    25    40      91                                        EN/14
53 Tyler Graovac             6-4     205    Left            4/27/93    Brampton, Ontario               Iowa                    AHL          64    13    12    25      29                                        EN/11
63 Kurtis Gabriel             6-4     214    Right          4/20/93    New Market, Ontario           Owen Sound        OHL          60    16    35    51      99                                        EN/13
47 Reid Gardiner             5-11   185    Right          1/19/96    Humboldt, Saskatchewan     Prince Albert        WHL          70    22    22    44      39                                        INVITEE
57 Ryan Graham              6-2     205    Left            5/6/96      Calgary, Alberta                   Saskatoon            WHL          70    15    8      23      37                                        INVITEE
81 Pavel Jenys                 6-2     198    Left            4/2/96      Brno, Czech Republic          Brno                    Czech         29    2      0      2        4                                        EN/14         
76 Chase Lang                 6-1     182    Right          9/13/96    Nanaimo, British Columbia  Calgary                WHL          68    10    15    25      52                                        EN/14
59 Zack Mitchell              6-0     184    Right          1/7/93      Caledon, Ontario                  Guelph                 OHL          67    31    52    83      40                                        FA/14
67 Andrew Ryan              6-3     202    Left            1/15/94    St. John’s Newfoundland     Halifax                 QMJHL      56    27    28    55      52                                        INVITEE
71 Ryan Walters              6-0     190    Left            7/30/91    Rosemount, Minnesota        Nebraska-Omaha NCHC        34    6      24    30      16                                        INVITEE
DEFENSEMEN               HT     WT    SHOOTS   BORN     BIRTHPLACE                    2013-14 TEAM   LGE          GP   G     A     PTS   PIM                                        ACQ
55 Matt Dumba                6-0     183    Right          7/25/94    Regina, Saskatchewan          Minnesota            NHL          13    1      1      2        2                                        EN/12
                                                                                                                                          Portland               WHL          26    8      16    24      37
73 Tanner Faith               6-3     211    Right          10/5/95    Terrace, British Columbia    Kootenay             WHL          10    0      1      1        9                                        EN/14
5 Christian Folin              6-3     210    Right          2/9/91      Gothenburg, Sweden            UMass-Lowell     HE             41    6      14    20      31                                        FA/14
34 Guillaume Gelinas      5-10   185    Left            6/14/93    Quebec City, Quebec           Val d’Or              QMJHL      67    23    69    92      81                                        FA/14
68 Alex Gudbranson       6-2     204    Right          9/3/94      Orleans, Ontario                  Sault Ste. Marie    OHL          66    7      8      15      76                                        INVITEE
78 Dylan Labbe               6-2     194    Left            1/19/95    St. George, Quebec              Shawinigan          QMJHL      63    9      18    27      20                                        EN/13
23 Gustav Olofsson         6-4     191    Left            12/1/94    Boras, Sweden                     Colorado College NCHC        30    4      4      8        20                                        EN/13
79 Hunter Warner            6-2     202    Right          9/21/95    Eden Prairie, Minnesota       Waterloo/Fargo    USHL        50    2      10    12      127                                        INVITEE
GOALTENDERS            HT     WT    CATCHES BORN     BIRTHPLACE                    2013-14 TEAM   LGE        GPI   W-L-OT  SO GAA  SV%                                        ACQ
50 Alexandre Belanger     6-1     184    Left            8/19/95    Sherbrooke, Quebec            Rouyn-Noranda   QMJHL    52      28-18-3   1    3.23   .881                                        EN/13
31 Johan Gustafsson       6-2     202    Left            2/28/92    Koping, Sweden                   Iowa                    AHL        40      12-20-4   1    2.98   .903                                        EN/10
70 Brandon Whitney        6-5     208    Right          5/11/94    Kentville, Nova Scotia         Victoriaville         QMJHL    41      13-18-7   4    3.25   .906                                        INVITEE
 
 
2014 MINNESOTA WILD PROSPECTS TOURNAMENT SCHEDULE*
 
FRIDAY, SEPTEMBER 12
2:30 p.m.        Minnesota vs. Columbus
3:00 p.m.         Buffalo vs. Carolina
6:00 p.m.         New York Rangers vs. Dallas
6:30 p.m.         Detroit vs. St. Louis
                                      
SATURDAY, SEPTEMBER 13
2:30 p.m.         Carolina vs. Dallas
3:00 p.m.        Minnesota vs. St. Louis
6:00 p.m.         Buffalo vs. New York Rangers
6:30 p.m.         Detroit vs. Columbus
 
MONDAY, SEPTEMBER 15
2:00 p.m.         Dallas vs. Buffalo
2:30 p.m.         Columbus vs. St. Louis
5:30 p.m.         New York Rangers vs. Carolina
6:00 p.m.        Minnesota vs. Detroit
 
TUESDAY, SEPTEMBER 16
2:00 p.m.         Seventh Place Game (4th Howe vs. 4th Lindsay)
2:30 p.m.         Fifth Place Game (3rd Howe vs. 3rd Lindsay)
5:30 p.m.         Third Place Game (2nd Howe vs. 2nd Lindsay)
6:00 p.m.         Championship Game (1st Howe vs. 1st Lindsay)
* All times listed are Central
 
 

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