Update from St. Louis: Kent tweeted that Chuck Kobasew is out tonight with a leg injury and Casey Wellman is on his way up on emergency recall. Jose Theodore in goal.
Morning from Minneapolis, where I picked a good trip to miss. Weather here is forecasted to be incredible today.
You can follow Kent at @bloodstrib on Twitter today and tonight for the game. He's had good stuff this morning, like his tweet "trying" to tweet a picture. He failed.
Here's today's John Madden article, but the big part of the article is how the Wild's trying its hardest to persuade college free agent Stephane Da Costa, who is this year's Casey Wellman in terms of being the big fish out there, to come to Minnesota.
It's an interesting scenario because you're basically paying Da Costa like Taylor Hall, the No. 1 pick in last year's draft, or Tyler Seguin, the No. 2 pick in last year's draft, if you get him. As I've told a couple draft eligible players in the past who were disappointed they weren't drafted, often times it's better not to be drafted if you're going to further develop in college.
That especially is for late draft picks. Is it better to be a sixth or seventh round pick or undrafted? Sometimes I'd say the latter because teams naturally don't work as hard to develop or pay attention to the late picks as they do the early picks.
Plus, not only do you make more money than most draft picks if you sign as a free agent (Nate Prosser), but you get to hand pick your situation, like where you have your best shot at cracking the lineup.
This is why Wellman chose Minnesota. This is why the Wild's hoping Da Costa chooses Minnesota.,
Da Costa talked to teams yesterday and will talk to teams today and tomorrow before making his decision, maybe as early as tomorrow or Thursday. He's talking with Wild GM Chuck Fletcher today.
The Wild, I am told, is undoubtedly a frontrunner. It becomes a real sales job because everybody's offering about the same contract. So, Fletcher basically becomes a college coach/recruiter trying to prove the Wild and Minnesota is the best place for the athlete.
From what I can tell, Minnesota and Ottawa offer him the best opportunity. In other words, take Toronto. They've got Kadri, Bozak, Grabovski and Colborne. Think Da Costa's got a better chance to crack there? Take Philly, who's jam-packed with young forwards, etc.
That's the type of thing I believe Da Costa will analyze with Wade Arnott (Jason's bro) and the rest of his agents at Newport.
You look at the Wild's situation, and Da Costa has a chance to play right away.
I will say this too, as much negativity as there's been lately with the Wild, things are looking up. It sure looks like they had a great draft class last year with Granlund, Larsson, Bulmer, Zucker, etc (see what I mean, by the way, with the perception of the late picks as opposed to the early ones? Even I'm unfairly ignoring them because they weren't first or second rounders, yet I'm focusing on Da Costa, the coveted free agent).
Even Mikko Lehtonen, the kid they acquired for Anton Khudobin, has a shot, scouts tell me. He led the Swedish Elite League in goals and was second in points. We'll see.
It's too early to tell with all these guys, but for the first time since I've covered the Wild (end of my sixth season), there's more than one or two "kids" to actually pay attention to. This is how you build teams. Yes, it'll take patience to watch their development (Mikko Koivu wasn't Mikko Koivu immediately), but this is the way the best teams do it (through development, not free agency every July 1).
Anyway, just a quick blog on this subject. The Wild's interested in a few other college free agents, but right now all of its attention is on Da Costa, the big fish. Once Da Costa makes a decision in the next few days, the Wild will focus again on the others.