With the Wild’s bye ending with a 5 p.m. practice Sunday and the trade deadline Wednesday at 2 p.m., it’s a good time for a Russo’s Rants Q and A.
Chris Seguin: Jordan Schroeder’s speed and hustle complements Chris Stewart. How about a big, hardworking banger between them?
Russo: Is 6-foot-7 big enough? The Wild is interested in Tampa Bay’s Brian Boyle, who has played 100 playoff games and in the past five years has played in four conference finals, advancing to the Stanley Cup Final twice. Problem is lots of teams are after him, which will up the asset demand.
Jake Warren: How much does the Wild front office value advanced stats like Corsi, PDO, etc.?
Russo: Very much so, as evidenced by the team’s hiring of the WAR on Ice — the terrific former advanced stats site — originators.
Robert Ryan Adkins: You keep implying Erik Haula is expendable. Why do you say that, especially with the poor play of those coming from Iowa?
Russo: I’m referring to the fact if the Wild lost Haula to Vegas or traded him, he could be replaced by Joel Eriksson Ek next season and eventually Luke Kunin.
Mike Swanger: How many years would you give Mikko Koivu?
Russo: If the Wild extends his contract this offseason (he’s set to become a free agent July 1, 2018), I probably wouldn’t go longer than three or four years. Problem is, for the Wild to get him to take a discount, it would probably have to “pay him back” with term, which is risky for somebody who would be 35 when that next contract begins. But nobody in the organization can do what Koivu can do in terms of big faceoffs, matchups with the centermen, etc. So, I think extending him is a must.
Patrick Dunn: How important is home-ice advantage?
Russo: The Wild’s finally on the verge of getting home-ice when arguably it plays its best, most complete games on the road. But it’s important when one considers the most of its players are 0-8 in Chicago in the playoffs.
Samantha Wood: What does Alex Tuch need to do to thrive in the NHL?
Russo: Play faster. Much, much faster.
Stebbink: With the seasons Mikael Granlund and Nino Niederreiter are having, what kind of money and term would you expect?
Russo: Don’t want to guess on money yet, but remember, both are arbitration-eligible, so they don’t necessarily have to be signed long-term now. I still think the Wild will have to rid itself of one hefty cap hit (Marco Scandella or Jason Pominville?) to get breathing room.
Ownsideup: Do you think Colorado’s Jarome Iginla would be a good fit?
Russo: I honestly don’t. He’s a power-play guy at this stage, and the Wild doesn’t need a power-play guy in my opinion. He has had a bad year on a bad team, so as good a guy as he is and as much as I respect him, I’m not certain how much game he has left.
jeff4649: What is the consensus about guys like Kunin, Eriksson Ek and Jordan Greenway?
Russo: Pierre McGuire thinks Kunin will be a better (believe it or not) Ryan Kesler and Greenway will be like Wayne Simmonds. Ray Ferraro likens Greenway to the “good Todd Bertuzzi.” Eriksson Ek is one smart, good-skating cookie with one heck of a shot.
Boatin: How do they calculate total on ice minutes per player?
Russo: Each arena has NHL-employed off-ice officials (statisticians). Two of them, usually with the aid of a spotter, literally are clicking uniform numbers on a laptop with a mouse when players go on and off the ice. So it’s not an exact science, but close.
GoWildGo1616: With Charlie Coyle stepping up at center, what does the Wild most need at the deadline?
Russo: Coyle’s versatility gives GM Chuck Fletcher options. Get a top-9 winger, put Coyle at third-line center. Get a center, put Coyle at wing and decide between Haula and the new center at third- and fourth-line center.
Russocoffee: Fletcher previously said he would not sign Granlund and Niederreiter until after the season. Why not have a framework in place for both, then wait until after expansion draft to sign, thus protecting two additional players?
Russo: They have to be protected, signed or unsigned.
NotABlogger: Does Brent Burns’ massive success over his career give the Wild doubts about trading/losing Matt Dumba?
Russo: Probably. Trading any young defensemen, especially a right-shot with Dumba’s tools, would be a concern. Remember, a year or two ago, many felt Granlund should be sent packing. Players, especially defensemen, develop at different rates.
Slickvb: Will Eriksson Ek play again this season in Minnesota?
Russo: He could theoretically be recalled once Farjestad’s season ends, but Fletcher has indicated the team wouldn’t stand in his way if Sweden wants him for the world championships.
chadder810: If Jason Zucker has played his way into being protected in the expansion draft, who has he bumped off the list?
Russo: If Pominville waives his no-move or is traded before that, maybe nobody. Otherwise, it could be Staal just because of his age.
WILD’S WEEK AHEAD
Monday: 7 p.m. vs. Los Angeles
Tuesday: 7 p.m. at Winnipeg
Thursday: 6 p.m. at Columbus
Mon. NBCSN; Tue., Thurs. FSN
Player to watch: Jeff Carter, Kings
Right on the heels of Sidney Crosby in the race for the Rocket Richard Trophy, given annually to the NHL’s top goal scorer.
“He’s like a little, what do you call those, water bugs.”
Wild coach Bruce Boudreau on the shiftiness of Chicago Blackhawks superstar Patrick Kane.