By KENT YOUNGBLOOD
Minnesota Wild general manager Chuck Fletcher said he’s still interested in free agent center Mike Modano, but he has not yet talked formally with either Modano or his agent.
“Nothing is set up yet,” Fletcher said while watching the first day of the Wild’s development camp. “But it is still my intention to speak with Mike. The first thing he needs to do is decide whether he wants to continue playing. He needs to take the time to see where he’s at.”
Modano, 40, is reportedly currently in Lake Tahoe, Nev., participating in a charity golf tournament. The Wild is among four teams reportedly showing an interesting in hosting Modano’s 21st NHL season, a list that includes Detroit, San Jose and Anaheim.
“He needs to take the time to see where he’s at,” Fletcher.
Meanwhile, Fletcher said he has had back-and-forth conversations with Craig Oster, goalie Josh Harding’s agent about a new contract. Harding’s $1.1 Million qualifying offer expires Thursday. “We have discussed different scenarios,” Fletcher said. “We expect to hear back shortly.”
--Fletcher didn’t sound in a hurry to hiring the final assistant on the Wild’s coaching staff, saying “Nothing is imminent.”
--Negotiations on a long-term deal with Mikko Koivu do not appear to have advance beyond preliminary conversations. “Our goal is to keep him here, long-term,” Fletcher said.
Kent Youngblood here.
It’s been a while since I was writing for Russo’s Rants. Two years. But, after two seasons covering the Gophers football team I’m back to working with Mike on the Wild and with Jerry Zgoda on the Wolves, something I did for four years starting with the 2003-04 season.
Man have things changed. I’m gone two years and just about the entire Wild organization has changed. The only person I knew while looking on the ice today was Bob Mason.
Anyway, today was the first of three days of development camp practices which run through Thursday. Then the players will play in scrimmages on Saturday (for season ticket holders) and Sunday (for the general public).
The players are broken up into two groups, and each day includes a practice session for each. The only player on the development camp roster not here was defenseman , who is expected later in the week.
Practices today were relatively low-key, with a succession of drills followed by a brief cross-rink scrimmage.
So, what stood out today? Just a few things.
Center Casey Wellman can take a hit. During cross-rink practice he took a hard, certainly accidental hit from a much bigger defenseman and hardly lost stride. Good omen for a fellow who has to prove that his relative lack of size won’t affect his production at the NHL level.
--Winger Johan Larsson, a second-round Wild draft choice, must have a pretty heavy shot. He shattered a panel of the plexiglass behind one of the goals during warm-ups Tuesday – with a wrist shot!
--Talk about your firehouse drills. The fire alarm went off during the second session. But the false alarm didn’t appear to affect the session.
Meanwhile, I talked briefly with GM Chuck Fletcher on a few issues:
--He has set to meet formally with free agent Mike Modano and talk contract, but said the interest is still there. Fletcher is waiting for Modano to decide for sure whether he wants to return for a 21st season.
--Fletcher said he is in no hurry to hire the final assistant for the Wild coaching staff.
--He has been talking in earnest with the agent for goalie Josh Harding and expects to hear back from him soon.
That’s about it. I’ll get back at you tomorrow.
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