The Wild’s AHL affiliate moves from Houston to Des Moines next season and will have to be under the guidance of a new coach.
John Torchetti, the veteran benchboss who won a Stanley Cup as a Chicago Blackhawks assistant in 2010, will become the new head coach of CSKA Moscow in the Kontinental Hockey League. He signed a three-year deal.
"[Sergei] Fedorov is the GM and he's been great," Torchetti said. "He came over and talked to me and called me a lot. It's something new for me and will be a good challenge. They want to win and I'm looking forward to having a chance to win, too."
The Wild exercised Torchetti’s option for next season, but he had an out clause. Wild GM Chuck Fletcher said Torchetti was offered a “huge deal” to leave.
“We need a new head coach in Des Moines,” Fletcher said. “I’m hoping this week we can bump into a few people while in New York [for the draft]. Maybe we can talk to two or three people and the following week bring people in.
“I don’t want it to extend forever. It’s an opportunity. It’s going to be a pretty young team there, so the primary focus will be development.”
Iowa next season will have a number of young players turning pro, including Johan Gustafsson, Raphael Bussieres, Tyler Graovac and Erik Haula.
One candidate could be Kurt Kleinendorst. The Grand Rapids, Minn., native was runner-up to Mike Yeo when the Wild hired him three years ago and is close with Iowa Wild GM Jim Mill. Kleinendorst recently resigned from the University of Alabama-Huntsville.
Kleinendorst coached Binghamton to a Calder Cup championship three years ago over, ahem, Yeo’s Houston Aeros.
Torchetti's Houston Aeros went 75-51-26 in two seasons, making the playoffs in both years.
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GM Chuck Fletcher said the finish to the season after being the second-best team in the West during the regular season is "still incredibly disappointing. It still stings, let's put it that way."
The young forward, coming off a career year, missed three games at the end of the season with a lower body injury.
The 27-year-old defenseman is expected to make a full recovery and be ready for next season.
The defenseman is expected to be recovered by training camp in September.
The Wild held its end-of-the-year availability on Tuesday, and here's a synopsis of the morning sessions from the press conference room and the locker room.