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Brunette briefly led NHL in scoring today; Talking Justin Falk/Nate Prosser, Wild's depth on D

  • Blog Post by: Michael Russo
  • April 7, 2010 - 11:17 AM

Good morning from Calgary, where it looks like it's shaping up to be a nice day. Wild practices at 2:45 local time today and were off yesterday, so since I won't have any updates for you until really late today, I figured I'd jump on and say howdy from Canada's cowboy city.

"Russo Radio" is on tonight at 6:20 p.m. CT on KSTP.

For the first time, the Canadian dollar has overtaken the U.S. dollar, meaning, bad time for the Star Tribune to be on a 3-game trip to Canada.

Back in the mid-90s when I'd come up here, the Canadian dollar was around 67 cents on the U.S. dollar.

Since for years the Canadian teams complained about taking in Canadian dollars and having to pay their players in greenbacks, I think the NHLPA should start demanding their players be paid in Canadian dollars now.

Just ran into David Pollak of the San Jose Mercury News at breakfast.

The Sharks were in town last night and ended Calgary's playoff chances. Actually Colorado rookie Matt Duchene ended Calgary's playoff chances with an overtime winner against Vancouver, but Evgeni Nabokov and the Sharks didn't help.

Couple items: I'll update later, but as of now, the Wild hasn't called anybody up. Defenseman Nick Schultz (leg) is apparently feeling better and may be able to play tomorrow. I'm just guessing, but if Schultz can play tomorrow, I've got a feeling John Scott would be scratched and Nate Prosser would play his second NHL game.

Prosser, after a couple jittery initial shifts, arguably was the Wild's best defenseman in Edmonton.

Because of Clayton Stoner's one-way deal, I just don't think Scott will be back. I say this because there's only so many one-way deals you can give out, and the one thing John Scott's shown this season is he deserves another one-way. And since he's a free agent, I've got to think he'll test it and see who offers it. And because of his fighting element, teams are going to want him.

The season's over. Prosser is part of the Wild's future without a doubt, so why not play him again? Calgary is not an easy building to play in, so a couple games to finish the season can only do the kid well in the development process.

Speaking of Prosser, who by the way is a ringer for Stiffler from American Pie or Andy Roddick, I know it's one game, but I've watched him closely in a lot of practices, and the kid's got the tools to eventually play at this level.

First, great footwork. He showed that during his first few shifts when I thought he was playing forward, ha. He can skate. He had very good awareness, range, was solid in the corners, smart and in practice, I've noticed he's got an NHL-quality shot.

I will say this, I got a few emails saying that by the 19:31 ice time Prosser got in Edmonton, that must show what the Wild thinks of Justin Falk, who didn't get near that type of ice time during his callup.

Apples and oranges, folks. First of all, coach Todd Richards went on and on unsolicited the other day in Vancouver about how excited he is about Falk's future.

Obviously if Marek Zidlicky, Schultz, Greg Zanon and Brent Burns are in the lineup, they're getting the ice time. Falk was playing a No. 6 role when Shane Hnidy and Cam Barker were out.

Prosser was in a game with no Zidlicky, no Schultz, power-play pointman Marty Havlat on the shelf starting in the second period and John Scott in the box for 17 minutes. So obviously Prosser was going to get more ice time than Falk did.

I will say this, too. I've criticized the Wild a lot about its lack of depth at forward in the organization. Just no clear top-six guys, although maybe Cody Almond and Casey Wellman (if he adds bigtime muscle) can develop into that.

But the Wild is starting to develop strong depth on the blue line, which affords Chuck Fletcher the opportunity to make trades like Nick Leddy (although the jury is still very much out on whether down the road this trade will be considered a good one because, as I've written, Cam Barker's been erratic so far).

But suddenly, the Wild's got Marco Scandella and Tyler Cuma turning pro, Nate Prosser in the organization, and to give credit where credit is due, the old regime's picks of Clayton Stoner, Justin Falk and signing of Maxim Noreau are working out.

Also, maybe he'll need half a year in the minors, maybe not, but Fletcher is very excited about the future of Scandella. He nearly made the team this past season and he's got a chance to make next year's team. Also, former assistant GM Tom Lynn signed him to an amazing contract. The Wild's got him for the next three years at 690K or something absurd like that. So because the Wild's already got four defensemen making $3.5 million and above roughly (barring any trades this summer, which is a possibility), that's a great cap hit to offset some of that if Scandella warrants being on the team.

I suggest reading Sunday's analysis because while today's Chuck Fletcher story looked at this past season, Sunday's will look ahead to this summer and the future.

Again, I'll update this later, but we'll find out today about Havlat (hamstring), Owen Nolan (leg) and Guillaume Latendresse (upper body). Right now, no callups, but John Scott could play forward if they need him to and Chuck Kobasew should return from a knee injury.

Lastly, @olsonmichael on Twitter sent me these screen shots today, but this morning, Andrew Brunette led the NHL in scoring. As you can see, several categories are a little warped.

Brunette screen shot 1

Brunette screen shot 2

 

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