Afternoon. Real quick:
-- Jeff Penner is real young in his pro career after signing as a college free agent out of Alaska Fairbanks. Basically this is a depth move to fill a spot in Houston because Tyler Cuma, who will have reconstructive knee surgery this week, and Drew Bagnall are hurt.
-- Mikko Lehtonen leads the Swedish Elite League in goals and is second in scoring while playing for the top team in the league, Skelleftea. He's big and fast and the Wild's basically taking a run at trying to get him to come back to North America this summer. He left a few years ago after scoring 103 points in two years in Providence. The former Bruins third-rounder just got stuck behind a deep group of forwards. So maybe it turns out to be a steal, maybe he winds up being Petr Kalus. We'll see this summer.
--Again, and I didn't think this was any secret, but judging by the emails I'm getting from stunned fans, it was. The Wild was letting Anton Khudobin walk away this summer, so when somebody called for him, it decided to get something for him.
Heck, the Wild almost let him go last summer when he threatened KHL if he didn't get a one-way deal. At the deadline, in mid-July he signed a two-way. The Wild has Matt Hackett and will sign Darcy Kuemper as the 1-2 in Houston next year. The Wild plans to bring Dennis Endras over to compete for the No. 2. They'll also watch him at the world championships to see what they've got with him, but if worse comes to worse, you just sign a veteran backup this summer to play in Minnesota. There will be a million goalies.
What the Wild really wants to do is bring back Jose Theodore, so my suspicion is Theodore will take a few days on July 1 to guage the landscape to see if he can be a No. 1 somewhere. The Wild would hold its horses on signing a goalie and if Theodore can't find a job, it would welcome him back with open arms.
Josh Harding, sadly, is a non-issue in my opinion. He's a free agent and will likely have to move on. The Wild also has Johan Gustafsson in the system.
But as for Khudobin, he filled in admirably in the games he came up. But he was leaving anyway. If he becomes Dominik Hasek in Boston, email me frantically then. But as of now, really, don't get so needlessly up in arms.
--The no movement. There always is this perception that just because other teams made moves and the Wild didn't, the Wild "lost." Oh my God, Calgary added Fredrik Modin and the Wild didn't type of stuff.
The Wild didn't need third and fourth liners, so they're not trading for guys like Maxim Lapierre and Brad Winchester. As for the centers, correct me if I'm wrong, but other than Jason Arnott, whom the Wild didn't want, were any traded?
The Wild didn't like the ones available to them or weren't willing to give up the assets to get those players. As for the big deals, I'm thinking the Penner one, the Wild wasn't giving up those pieces, same with the Upshall/Lepisto one. Those, to me, are the only two deals that happened in the West where I felt OK, Columbus just helped themselves, OK, LA just helped themselves.
As for Chuck Kobasew, I don't think there was a lot of interest in the end. At least that's what I'm hearing. If there was, is getting a fifth or sixth round pick or whatever worth more than losing the depth Kobasew brings if the Wild gets injured after he's gone? Hard to answer until you're calling up Jed Ortmeyer again or Petr Kalus.
That's what the Wild had to ask itself.
I know TSN went out and bashed the Wild for not getting something for its UFA's, but the Wild made it extremely clear that it was going for a playoff spot, not trading its UFA's for picks. So unless you have that context, it's easy to rip.
You trade Andrew Brunette and John Madden, you're pulling the plug, and the Wild's not willing to do that. The Wild believes this room can get it done, so it's going for it with this room. We'll see if it works out.
As I've said all along, it would have been awesome to add a scorer, but the prices were clearly inflated in a market where there were few sellers or the ones available were players the Wild either didn't want want to pay major assets for or didn't want to put into a tight room.
I thought it would get a center, but again the prices were crazy. Second for Konopka? Second for Reasoner? The Wild wasn't willing to do that. So it'll continue to stopgap while Koivu is out, which I think will be another two to three weeks, although he's been healing nicely.
OK, sloppy, quick blog. Probably some typos and some confusing it's and they's, but that's what you get with about 15 other things on my plate to tackle. More after the game.