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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Live Russo online chat today at 2 p.m.

Posted by: Michael Russo under Wild off-season news Updated: April 10, 2012 - 10:12 AM

Have a question or two or 20 heading into the offseason about the Wild or the NHL? My live offseason primer online chat will be Tuesday at 2 p.m., so be sure to come back to startribune.com armed with questions galore.

I will try to get to as many as I can.

We are two days away from my favorite time of year -- the NHL postseason.

I've probably watched more playoff games than any hockey writer in the league the last four years. When you actually cover the playoffs, you don't really get to watch the other games because you're so entrenched in the series you're covering.

For me, that never seems to be a problem.

Some tremendous first-round matchups, and my playoff preview will appear in Wednesday's paper.

In Tuesday's paper, I'll have an odds-and-ends notebook. In Thursday's paper, you'll hear from owner Craig Leipold.

Wild GM Chuck Fletcher and coach Mike Yeo had end-of-the-season availability with the local press corps this morning down at the X.

Most the things discussed were all things you've read in the paper the past few days and frankly the entire second half -- the prospects on the horizon, how the Wild won't rush em, how it got rid of some "fractures" in the dressing room and became more of a "team" (I've alluded or pointedly said more than once who those two/three players allegedly were), how the Wild will try to analyze this offseason why it's been so injured the past three years, etc., etc. 

If you want to watch the presser, carve out 40 minutes and here's the link (minus Fletcher sarcastically calling me his publicist by writing he's grayer in this morning's paper. Here's that link on Fletcher).

Niklas Backstrom will have offseason ankle surgery. Other players had end of the year physicals today and Fletcher said he anticipates a few more players will need surgery on ailments.

No news on world championship participants yet for the tournament in Finland. There probably won't be any real confirmations until after the first round. It's been reported in Finland that Wild captain Mikko Koivu will captain Finland for a second consecutive year. Last year, they won gold. 

On Tuesday at 7 p.m. on the NBC Sports Network, remember, the NHL draft lottery takes place. The Wild will currently pick at Lucky No. 7 at the June 22-23 draft in Pittsburgh. It has a 4.7 percent chance of winning the lottery, which would move Minnesota to third. If the 8th-11th teams win the lottery, the Wild would move back to eighth.

Columbus, Edmonton, Montreal, the Islanders and Toronto are the only teams with a chance of getting the first overall pick.

The NHL's Central Scouting Service came out with its final draft-eligible player rankings today. Here's a link (lists are about the middle of the page to the right of the article). Obviously, as we get closer to the June draft, you'll be reading a lot more about it.

For now, ... I'm in offseason mode.

You know how I know the Wild's season is officially over? Look at this depressing sight -- an empty, dark, closed-for-business Xcel Energy Center from this morning.

 

 

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