Morning from my plane.
Some random thoughts, so I figured I'd share them with you.
1. With Nick Palmieri and Stephane Veilleux set to be inserted into the Wild's lineup Sunday against San Jose, the Wild reassigned Matt Hackett (meaning Josh Harding can dress) and Chad Rau. Jed Ortmeyer stays for now. He's played gritty and physical the last three games. I guess the Wild will recall Rau next time in needs a winning goal. One forward will have to come out tomorrow. If it were me, I'd make it Erik Christensen. He has no points, seven shots and is minus-8 in 10 games. I mean, do you keep playing him just hoping games go to shootouts?
2. As I mentioned last night, I'm mostly interested to watch Palmieri the rest of the year and see if he's got what it takes to be a regular third-liner. The Wild has a lot of top-6 guys coming, so if he can become a regular third-line player, that'd be a coup. He played last year with Ilya Kovalchuk and Travis Zajac, which was probably over his head. Those that know him say he has to play bigger to be a third-line guy. He certainly has the size and the skating ability, so we will see. Last week at practice, he was apparently getting fighting tips from Cam Janssen and Eric Boulton, too.
3. Foster's value will obviously come on the power play, a power play that's actually started to score (five times in the last six games. Per Bergen Record's Tom Gulitti, in 29 games before Foster's arrival, Devils' PP was 14-for-110 (13.2%). In 28 games, Foster played for Devs, PP was 19-for-87 (21.8%). He's got a big shot. 5-on-5 was the area where Lou Lamoriello and Pete DeBoer didn't have a whole lot of faith in Foster. Foster will be playing for a contract, so I'd think we'll see a very motivated player. He has a 9-month-old boy, and three trades in a year, I think he and his wife are getting tired of hopping around. As you know, one of the nicest guys in the game and a go-to quote. And Mikko Koivu's bud (the Kaptain was in Foster's wedding)
4. Veilleux is also playing for a contract. He's been on a 2-way deal all year. He's very happy. Married a local girl, lives in St. Paul, has tried to return to the Wild a couple times to no avail under this regime, so you know he wants to impress. And as you know, one of the great characters in the game. Look up my training camp story from 3 years ago when he had the wing-eating contest with players at Buffalo Wild Wings in Grand Forks. Funny dude.
5. The key to this trade -- the second-rounder. Replaces what it gave up in the Brent Burns deal. The other key, as I mentioned on last night's blog, was freeing up another $4 million of cap space for next year. This summer, the Wild will try for a big fish or two.
6. I'll be interested to see Zidlicky in New Jersey. This is not the same player of a few years ago. He doesn't compete the same, and he certainly doesn't shoot the same. My theory: I think that separated shoulder last season took a toll on Zidlicky. He hasn't looked the same since, he hasn't shot the puck the same way since. His zip is missing, and he doesn't trust it. But he'll be playing with some talented guys in Jersey in Parise, Kovalchuk, Elias, etc., etc.
7. If the Wild loses to San Jose, my big question is whether Fletcher trades Greg Zanon and/or Josh Harding on Monday.
8. Veilleux wears his old No. 19. Because Christensen wears Foster's old 26, Foster gets 20. Palmieri wears 17.
9. Brad Staubitz is back on his way to Minnesota via re-entry waivers. If claimed Monday, he can be had at half price. This type of move is done annually on this day by teams to give players like Staubitz one last look to potential interested teams. It's kind of like a reminder, "Hey, this guy exists if you want him." If he clears, he can simply just stay the rest of the way if the Wild wants him to because remember, no more 23-man roster limitations after the trade deadline.
The Wild doesn't have practice today, so barring news, this will be your blog today. I'll be watching my Minnetonka Skippers.