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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Heatley, Fletcher talk; Koivu, Yeo excited; Updated Wild depth chart

Posted by: Michael Russo under Wild off-season news, Wild trade news Updated: July 4, 2011 - 6:09 PM
Happy 4th of July everybody. I haven’t even opened my front door yet, so I’m looking forward to getting out of here.
 
Check out Tuesday’s paper for the coverage, but the local media chatted with new Wild sniper Dany Heatley this morning as well as General Manager Chuck Fletcher.
 
I also had a long chat with Mikko Koivu, a Private in the Finland Army, and coach Mike Yeo.
 
On Tuesday, by the way, the Wild’s expected to announce Yeo’s Houston Aeros’ replacement.
 
Like I said, we talked to Heatley this morning, and he certainly sounded motivated and excited about the new chapter in his career. He said his first phone call after talking Sunday night with Sharks GM Doug Wilson and Fletcher was to Devin Setoguchi.
 
“I was sad to see him go last week and happy to be back with him now,” Heatley said.
 
Like I said, check out tomorrow’s story for all the Heatley/Fletcher stuff, but I did talk to Yeo and he said he is looking forward to experimenting in training camp with line combinations. He wants to try Pierre-Marc Bouchard with Koivu and Heatley, but he’s also like to try Setoguchi with Koivu and Heatley.
 
Setoguchi (by the way, the guy is a quote machine, and check out his comments in Tuesday’s story) said he and Heatley have already talked about that and Seto said he’d be willing to move to the off-wing (left wing) and play there. He says he loves taking one-timers from that side, and with two lefties to his right setting him up, that could actually be a neat possibility.
 
Koivu said he woke up to a bunch of text messages, so he knew something big happened. He was very happy with the pickup of Heatley, and as sad as he was to see Brent Burns go, Setoguchi.
 
“You see Dany Heatley is coming to our team, and you’re just so proud,” Koivu said. “He is such a great player who can score goals. And for myself and for the whole team and for the fans and the whole state, I think it should give us a lot of confidence and a lot of excitement. We should be proud to have a guy like that on our team. It’s a great thing for the whole hockey in Minnesota.”
 
He said when he went to work out this morning, he was “just so motivated and happy.”
 
He reiterated how tough it is to see Marty Havlat and Burns go. But he says it shows the Wild’s at least trying to improve after three missed postseasons and he likes the direction.
 
I asked him about Andrew Brunette leaving.

“I’m going to miss Bruno a lot – on and off the ice, we were real close friends,” Koivu said. “I think that’s the tough part, and on the ice we clicked as well. It was a fun three years and our friendship will be forever.”
 
Here are a couple extra Fletcher quotes I didn’t use:
 
“I think there are situations where some hockey players fit into some teams better than others,” Fletcher said of Havlat. “Marty was, I thought [in 2009] and still do, a very good acquisition for our franchise to get a player like that to commit to coming to Minnesota and bring his talents.
“And today, we sit here and now we have the ability to acquire Dany Heatley because of it.”
 
“We’re always looking for the right fit. I think we’re always looking for the right fit. I think there are situations where some hockey players fit into some teams better than others. To add goal scorers like Heatley and Setoguchi is the right decision for this time for this team.”
 
Fletcher reiterated that he traded a “30-year-old skilled offensive winger for a 30-year-old skilled offensive winger. Whether we made the trade or not, we would have had a 30 year-old skilled offensive winger. This doesn’t deviate at all with what we’ve spoken about (youth movement).”
 
Also, Havlat’s agent Allan Walsh said, “When Chuck Fletcher approached us yesterday about a possible trade to San Jose, Marty analyzed the situation and determined that San Jose could be a better fit for him at this point in time. Marty has performed previously at a very high level in the playoffs. While everyone in the Wild organization has been wonderful to Marty, the move to San Jose made a lot of sense for everyone.”
 
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); Dany Heatley ($8M, $7.5M)
 
Line 2: Guillaume Latendresse ($2.6M, $2.5M); Matt Cullen ($3.5M, $3.5M); Devin Setoguchi ($2.75M; $3M)
 
Line 3: Darroll Powe (RFA); Kyle Brodziak ($1.3M, $1.15M); 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, Jeff Taffe.
 
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): $52,219,445
 
• Salary cap hit: $50,418,111
 
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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