Michael Russo has covered the National Hockey League since 1995. He has covered the Minnesota Wild for the Star Tribune since 2005, after 10 years of covering the Florida Panthers for the Sun-Sentinel. He uses “Russo’s Rants” to feed a wide-ranging hockey-centric discussion with readers, and can be heard weekly on KFAN (100.3 FM) radio and seen weekly on Fox Sports North.

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Wild silent on opening day of free agency; Updated depth chart

Posted by: Michael Russo under Wild off-season news, Wild player moves Updated: July 1, 2011 - 6:29 PM

The dollars flew around the NHL today, especially in South Florida, where the Panthers -- needed to get to the salary-cap floor -- signed Jose Theodore, Ed Jovanovski, Tomas Fleischmann, Scottie Upshall, Marcel Goc and traded for Kris Versteeg days after trading for Brian Campbell.

Buffalo gave Ville Leino six years at $27 million, Montreal signed Erik Cole, Philly signed Jaromir Jagr and Max Talbot, Joel Ward got a monster $3 million-a-year deal from Washington, Colorado shockingly gave up a first-round potential lottery pick AND second to Washington for the unproven Semyon Varlamov and Chicago signed a boatload of veterans, including Andrew Brunette.

Brad Richards is still holding a pretty funny auction at Newport Sports, the player agency in Toronto that TSN's had scouted out all day with cameras as teams line up.

More than 50 players signed, including Cam Barker to Edmonton and Chuck Kobasew to Colorado.

The Wild, it as expected, was on the sidelines watching the bidding wars from afar. The team made a lot of calls but stayed out of the contract battles.

The Wild's made no secret it's looking to fill most its holes internally -- save for the recent Devin Setoguchi and Darroll Powe acquisitions and today's Josh Harding re-signing. The Wild did, by the way, sign Apple Valley's Kyle Medvec to that entry-level deal I've been mentioning the past few days. The 6-6 defenseman played at Vermont and will start his pro career in Houston next year.

I don't expect the Wild to make any signings the rest of the night. That doesn't mean it won't in the coming days or the rest of the summer, but it doesn't sound like tonight. Here's a couple quick-hit quotes from GM Chuck Fletcher:

 
"Over the past two weeks, I think we’ve addressed a couple of the needs we felt we had. We have a lot of players currently under contract. We expect to get a healthy Latendresse back next season. We expect to get a full year out of PMB. We’ve added Setoguchi. We’ve added Powe. And I think we have pretty good depth in the organization. We have good young forwards and good young defensemen playing in Houston that deserve the opportunity to compete for a job.
 
"The intention for us all along was we want to fill some of our holes and take care of some of our needs, but at the same token, we feel some of our young players deserve a chance to make the team. I think today kind of played out the way we expected. There were a lot of long-term, mega-dollar deals that many teams and players entered into, and we really like the core of our team. So today played out the way we expected. We’ll see how the rest of the summer plays out. I still think there’s opportunities to improve our team and we’ll look at certain things. But to me, today wasn’t a day where we had to make a lot of things happen. I think we have good players and we have good depth and again we’ll have more opportunity here over the next little while to potentially improve our team more."
 
There will be more later, but I need to get writing for the paper. I'll have a Brunette story in tomorrow's paper (great quotes), as well as a story on the Wild and free agency. Jose Theodore was real good, by the way, on Harding.
 
UPDATED DEPTH CHART
 
 
Wild Depth Chart
 
Here's a look at the Wild's depth chart for next season as it stands today. The TBDs indicate open spots that either need to be filled through the promotion of Wild prospects or external acquisitions (free agency or trades). Below each player are his 2011-12 salary and 2011-12 salary-cap hit. The salary-cap ceiling for next season is $64.3 million.
 
FORWARDS
 
Line 1: Pierre-Marc Bouchard ($4.25 million salary, $4.08M salary cap hit); Mikko Koivu ($7.29M, $6.75M); Devin Setoguchi ($2.75M; $3M)
 
Line 2: Guillaume Latendresse ($2.6M, $2.5M); Kyle Brodziak ($1.3M, $1.15M); Martin Havlat ($5M, $5M)
 
Line 3: Darroll Powe (RFA); Matt Cullen ($3.5M, $3.5M); Cal Clutterbuck ($1.5M, $1.4M)
 
Line 4: Eric Nystrom ($1.4M, $1.4M); TBD; Brad Staubitz ($600K, $575K)
 
TBD; TBD
 
Note: Two or three spots are open depending on if the Wild keeps 13 or 14 forwards, or seven or eight defensemen.
 
Vying for spots: Colton Gillies, Casey Wellman, Cody Almond, James Sheppard, David McIntyre, Carson McMillan, Matt Kassian, Jed Ortmeyer.
 
Restricted free agents: Powe, Wellman, Sheppard, Gillies, Jarod Palmer
 
Unrestricted free agents: John Madden, Antti Miettinen, Patrick O’Sullivan
 
Minor league unrestricted free agents: Robbie Earl.
 
DEFENSEMEN
 
Pair 1: Nick Schultz ($3.6 million salary, $3.5M salary cap hit); Marek Zidlicky ($4M, $4M)
 
Pair 2: Greg Zanon ($2.1M, $1.933M); Jared Spurgeon ($535K, $527K)
 
Pair 3: Clayton Stoner ($575K, $550K); TBD
 
TBD; TBD
 
Note: Two or three spots are open depending on if the Wild keeps 13 or 14 forwards.
 
Vying for spots: Marco Scandella, Nate Prosser, Justin Falk, Drew Bagnall.
 
Restricted free agents: Falk, Jeff Penner.
 
GOALIES
 
Starter: Niklas Backstrom ($6 million salary, $6M salary cap hit)
 
Backup: Josh Harding ($750K, $750K)
 
SALARY BREAKDOWN
 
• Actual 2011-12 payroll (as of today): $49,219,445
 
• Salary cap hit: $47,918,111
 
Notes: Includes bought-out Mark Parrish’s $927,778 payoff and cap hit and soon-to-be-bought-out Cam Barker $541,667 payoff and $375,000 cap hit.
 
This total also includes the 17 of a possible 23 players. So this doesn’t include Powe, the youngsters vying for the team or possible free-agent or trade acquisitions. Obviously the payroll and salary-cap hits are in actuality higher because Powe will be signed and players like Gillies, Scandella, etc., will be on the team.
 
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