I will be hosting Dan Barreiro's "Bumper to Bumper" this afternoon from 3-6:30 p.m. on KFAN (100.3-FM).
My guests include the Star Tribune's Lavelle E. Neal III, Fox Sports North's Kevin Gorg, as well as Wild coach Mike Yeo, Wild center Zenon Konopka, Wild forward Matt Cullen, former NHL coach and GM Doug MacLean and Columbus Dispatch hockey writer Aaron Portzline.
We'll be talking a lot of hockey, but also Twins and other stuff as well.
I'll have a story on a Wild prospect in either Saturday's paper or Sunday's, but I am taking off for a little while and others will have the keys to the blog for the rest of the month. There's not expected to be much news at all.
I did want to post an updated 2012-13 Wild Depth Chart for your perusal.
This is obviously my opinion, ... with a little input from Yeo. For instance, Yeo has said he plans to start Mikael Granlund off in training camp as the second-line center, so I'm guessing where Cullen and Devin Setoguchi will end up and assuming Pierre-Marc Bouchard will be healthy and ready to go (which is his intent; he's training and skating).
Yeo has also said he plans to start Ryan Suter out with Jared Spurgeon and Zach Parise out with Mikko Koivu and Dany Heatley.
Still, this is going to be a competitive camp. While most the prospects will start off in Houston, some of these kids will be challenging for spots. I mean, just look at how good Jason Zucker was in last night's scrimmage, how much Brett Bulmer has physically matured, how smooth Jonas Brodin is.
GM Chuck Fletcher has said if a prospect proves he's one of the top 12 forwards or top 6 defensemen in camp, he will find him a spot (whether it's immediately or takes a week into the season or a month, whatever).
That means no NHLer can take his job for granted in camp. Obviously, one-way contracts do matter though. Contracts are guaranteed. That's a fact of life, so while you may think a prospect deserves to be on the team over Player A or Player B, it will take some maneuvering by management to make that happen if that proves to be the case.
Also, the Wild's not going to bury a prospect on the fourth line. So while a Charlie Coyle may wind up looking awesome in camp, no chance he's plugged in on the fourth line instead of, say, a Darroll Powe. For somebody like Coyle, you want him playing a top-6 role in the NHL or he'd be better served getting tons of playing time in the minors. Same with most these guys.
I can tell you Aeros coach John Torchetti can't wait to get coaching a lot of these guys in Houston.
Also, yes, the Wild is only $2.05 million from the $70.2 million cap. And yes, the Wild has 49 contracts out of a maximum 50. So while one might assume something has to give and Fletcher will eventually make a trade to free up some space, especially at forward, Fletcher says there's no rush to do anything and he's tempted to let things play out in training camp. Fletcher says after so many injuries the past few years, depth is a good thing and he'd rather wait to do something. So we'll see.
Here's the depth chart:
Left wing-Center-Right wing
First line: Zach Parise-Mikko Koivu-Dany Heatley
Second line: Devin Setoguchi -Mikael Granlund-Pierre-Marc Bouchard
Third line: Matt Cullen-Kyle Brodziak-Cal Clutterbuck
Fourth line: Darroll Powe-Zenon Konopka-Torrey Mitchell
Extra: Matt Kassian
Potential other extra: XXXXXX
Vying for spots: Kassian, Stephane Veilleux, Jake Dowell, Jason Zucker, Brett Bulmer, Charlie Coyle, Johan Larsson, Nick Palmieri, Zack Phillips, Chad Rau, Jarod Palmer, Kris Foucault, David McIntyre, Carson McMillan, Justin Fontaine, Joel Broda.
Minor-league restricted free agents still to be signed: McIntyre, Palmieri, Palmer, McMillan
First pair: Ryan Suter-Jared Spurgeon
Second pair: Marco Scandella-Tom Gilbert
Third pair: Clayton Stoner-Justin Falk/Nate Prosser
Potential other extra: XXXXXX
Vying for spots: Falk, Prosser, Jonas Brodin, Steven Kampfer, Matt Dumba, Brian Connelly, Tyler Cuma, Chay Genoway, Drew Bagnall, Kyle Medvec, Josh Caron, Colton Jobke
No. 1: Niklas Backstrom
No. 2: Josh Harding
In the wings: Matt Hackett, Darcy Kuemper
Note: XXXXXX signifies open spot.