The Wild will be wrapping up its development camp Tuesday night with a second free and open-to-the-public scrimmage at Xcel Energy Center at 6:30 p.m. Gate 1 opens at 6.
The great news about the scrimmage Saturday is the players you as Wild fans would hope would shine through did. Mike Reilly, the lone real roster hopeful out of what will be main training camp in September, was the best player on the ice. The talent of Joel Eriksson Ek (face looks off the ice kinda like former Wild Kim Johnsson) and Jordan Greenway, the Wild’s first two picks in the 2015 draft just a few weeks ago, was easily discernable and Alex Tuch looked like a future stud.
It’s a shame the latter three are a year or two from turning pro (in Eriksson Ek’s case, pro in North America).
Also, Zack Mitchell, a free-agent pickup a few years ago out of juniors who could push for callup time this season from Iowa, scored twice, as did draft pick Reid Duke, who scored 20 goals and almost a point a game last season with WHL Brandon.
Draft pick Pavel Jenys, turning pro this season with Iowa, scored off a nice penalty-shot move, draft picks Gustav Bouramman and Louis Belpedio stood out to me, invitees Andrew Black and Jack Walker showed off some speed and Reilly and Avery Peterson executed an awesome give-and-go before Reilly set up a driving goal by invitee and former Gophers teammate Sam Warning.
The goalies looked decent, too. I liked the games of Mario Lucia, Jack Sadek, Nicholas Boka and Zach Palmquist.
As I mentioned, Reilly was real good. Steps up in the play willingly and has outstanding skill and smarts and vision, something he showed with a no-look pass from the offensive-zone end boards to set up Tuch for a goal late from the slot.
It got me thinking about how the Wild coaches may strategize for 3-on-3 overtime next season. One would assume they’d go two forwards and a defenseman, and/but with the Wild’s mobility from the back end from guys like Reilly, Brodin, Spurgeon, Dumba, Scandella, etc., it’ll be interesting how Yeo deploys them.
Assistant coaches Darby Hendrickson and Rick Wilson were joking how Wilson, the Wild’s coach who concentrates on the defensemen, wouldn’t mind three D. Faceoffs will be so, so, so key on 3-on-3’s, so we’ll see plenty of Mikko Koivu, Erik Haula, Mikael Granlund and Charlie Coyle. So will speed, and one wonders if there may be times where a guy like Koivu takes the draw and is told to come to the bench if it’s won.
As for Reilly, assistant GM Brent Flahr said after the first scrimmage, “That’s what he is. He’s an offensive guy. He can really skate, he likes to get up ice and try to make plays once he’s inside the offensive zone. What he brings is attractive to any team in the league. He still has some things to work on like any young defenseman, but you can’t teach what he does.”
Draft pick Chase Lang is the only prospect not taking part right now because of a high ankle sprain, I believe.
Obviously a real brief synopsis of the first scrimmage, and if you want to get your hockey fix, see you Tuesday night.
-- I’ll be filling in on KFAN on Tuesday and Wednesday from 9-noon. Tuesday, my guests may include Wild forward Kurtis Gabriel and assistant coach Andrew Brunette. Wednesday, part of the show will be a conversation with NHLers-turned-high-school-coaches Mark Parrish (Orono), Wes Walz (East Ridge) and Trent Klatt (Grand Rapids).
-- The next Russo-Souhan podcast can be heard Wednesday on iTunes or malepatternpodcasts.com.
-- The Christian Folin two-year, $1.45 million contract. He was due a 5 percent raise on $925,000, so in exchange for term and a one-way contract, he gave the Wild a more favorable cap number ($725,000). He also doesn’t require waivers to get to Iowa, so Reilly, Dumba and Folin all could be sent to Iowa out of camp without waivers if they don’t make the team. Reilly and Dumba are on two-ways though, and no owner would want to pay a player $725,000 in the minors. So Folin has a shot. But as I mentioned on the previous blog, there are eight defensemen. If Niklas Backstrom is on the roster to start camp and the Wild kept eight D, the Wild wouldn’t be able to keep an extra forward.
So, not a lot of wiggle room here in terms of flexibility.
-- Chris Stewart signed a one-year, $1.7 million deal with Anaheim on Saturday – almost double what the Wild offered and could offer, a source says.
Erik Haula remains unsigned (as of now) heading into a late-month arbitration hearing, and after that, not a lot of cap room unless there’s a buyout in the works or a trade on the horizon.
Again, unless there’s a bargain forward signing on the horizon, this could be the team. The Wild had interest in Stewart at a quality price, so maybe it has interest in others, like another center (which I still think they could use another).
Some forwards still unsigned include Alex Semin, Eric Fehr (center), Mike Santorelli (center), Manny Malhotra (center, huge on faceoffs if healthy), Erik Cole, Stephen Weiss (center), Tomas Fleischmann, Matt Cullen (center), Mike Ryder, Jarret Stoll (center), Jiri Tlusty, Brad Boyes, Curtis Glencross, Scottie Upshall and Lee Stempniak.
-- I’m a week away from taking off for a little bit. I’ll toss up an updated depth chart before I go.