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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Posts about Wild trade news

Wild places Stephane Veilleux on waivers, creates roster flexibility for potential trade

Posted by: Michael Russo Updated: February 27, 2015 - 3:25 PM

Wild left wing Stephane Veilleux was placed on waivers today. With one roster spot open already, Veilleux would create a potential second roster spot if needed. Basically, the move gives the Wild the flexibility if it wants to make a trade in the next day or so (see below for one name the Wild has inquired about).

The trade deadline is Monday at 2 p.m. CT.

If Veilleux clears waivers, he won't necessarily be assigned to AHL Iowa. In fact, with no extra forwards or defensemen, he'll probably stay on the roster unless the Wild needs that spot prior to Saturday's game against the Colorado Avalanche.

By having Veilleux clear waivers, this again just allows the Wild that ability to send him to the minors IF it needs his roster spot because of a trade.

As I reported last week in this article (and frankly several articles recently), General Manager Chuck Fletcher is in the market for a depth defenseman.

In recent games, the Wild has had injury scares with defensemen Jonas Brodin and Marco Scandella. Jared Spurgeon is already on injured reserve with a concussion, although coach Mike Yeo has said he is doing better. But all this was a reminder to Fletcher that even with Matt Dumba, fellow rookie Christian Folin and Nate Prosser playing well, it may behoove him to acquire a depth defenseman who can jump into the lineup if needed. There is little doubt the Wild needs another NHL body or two on the blue line, not just in case of injury, but performance. For instance, Dumba had a couple bigtime rookie moments the Wild did survive last night.

In Iowa, the only defensemen considered callup options remaining are Justin Falk and Jon Blum. Falk is the Wild’s only left-shot defenseman beyond Ryan Suter, Brodin and Scandella, meaning the Wild's one left-side injury away from having to recall Falk.

The Wild has inquired with the Columbus Blue Jackets about former University of Minnesota defenseman Jordan Leopold, sources say. The price is believed to be a mid-range draft pick. He was acquired from St. Louis for a 2016 fifth-round pick in November.

Leopold, 34, is most importantly a left-shot that could bring depth in case of injury. Good vision, moves the puck well, suspect at times defensively, good locker-room guy and again would be a depth player to have around for a playoff run.

He has scored 67 goals and 213 points in 677 games for seven teams (Calgary, Colorado, Florida, Pittsburgh, Buffalo, St. Louis and Columbus).

The former Hobey Baker winner won a national title with the Gophers in 2002, scoring 20 goals and 48 points in 44 games.

The top two defensemen on the open market are considered Edmonton's Jeff Petry and former Wild Zbynek Michalek, but Michalek has a concussion and Petry is a right-shot.

Other defensemen potentially available include Philadelphia's Kimmo Timonen (coming back from blood clot and hasn't played all years), Carolina's Tim Gleason, Buffalo's Andrej Meszaros and Colorado's Jan Hejda. Others, too, but those are the most well-known names and Leopold is the only one I know the Wild has inquired about.

Again, for the Wild to give itself the flexibility to technially acquire two bodies, perhaps some other stuff is cooking, too. Remember, after Monday's deadline, rosters expand so injured players will be able to come back at any time without the need to create roster spots.

The Wild plays the Avs tomorrow night. The Avs are in Dallas tonight.

The Wild has shut out the Avalanche in three consecutive meetings (combined 9-0), the first NHL team to accomplish that feat since 2007-08. The Wild, 12-2-1 since the All-Star break and 14-3-2 in its past 19 games, has won six of eight on the road to climb over .500 on the road (15-14-2) for the first time since being 1-0 with a 3-0 win at Colorado on Oct. 11.

It is 14-3-3 in its past 19 games in Denver.

Devan Dubnyk is expected to start his 20th consecutive game, tying Niklas Backstrom's team record set in 2009. If all goes well, he has to be a candidate for February's First Star of the Month. The Wild has never had a Player of the Month.

By the way, Nino Niederreiter is the first Swiss-born player in NHL history to hit the 20-goal plateau.

That's it for now, although whether it's today, Saturday, Sunday or Monday, I'd expect the Wild to make a move for at least a defenseman.

I'll be on KFAN today at 4:30 p.m. CT, Saturday at 11:35 a.m. CT and Saturday night on Fox Sports North during the pregame show.

Sean Bergenheim excited about trade

Posted by: Rachel Blount Updated: February 25, 2015 - 3:18 PM

It's not often that someone leaves Florida to come to Minnesota in February and proclaims "it will be nice to see some snow.'' The Wild's newly acquired forward, Sean Bergenheim, said in a conference call Wednesday that he won't be bothered by the cold, because he's from Finland. He also thinks those roots will help him adapt quickly to his new team, which is populated by friends from his home country including Mikko Koivu and Mikael Granlund.

Bergenheim, 31, traveled on Wednesday from Florida to Nashville, where he will join the Wild for Thursday's game against the Predators. He is looking to hit the reset button on a season that went sour in Florida. He has been a healthy scratch recently but said he is happy with how he's played when he's been in the lineup. Bergenheim had eight goals and 10 assists in 39 games for the Panthers, averaging 14 minutes, nine seconds of ice time per game.

Though he said he doesn't "have any issues'' with anyone in the Panthers organization, Bergenheim noted that he had not been a healthy scratch until he recently asked to be traded. He feels he has plenty to add to a Wild roster scrambling to make the playoffs.

"I think one of my strengths is I'm a pretty versatile player,'' said Bergenheim, who said he won't know until Thursday morning whether he will play against the Predators. "I feel I can help in different situations and play in different roles. I want to do whatever I can.

"I think there's something I can give to this team. I want to bring energy, I want to bring forechecking, I want to bring pressure in the offensive zone. I want to get the pucks to the net, get myself to the net, and hopefully score some goals for this team.''

Bergenheim said he talked Wednesday with Wild coach Mike Yeo, but he doesn't have a sense yet of what his role might be. He also is unfamiliar with his new team's systems; having spent his entire NHL career in the Eastern Conference, he hasn't seen much of the Wild.

Though midseason trades are tough, he said his friendships with Koivu and Granlund will help him adjust. Bergenheim knows Koivu well from their junior days, when they played together on Finland's national team and faced off against each other as well. He has trained with Granlund in the summer, and he also knows Wild goalie Niklas Backstrom.

Bergenheim is in the last year of his contract, but he said he doesn't feel any pressure. "I'm pretty happy with how I've played this season in the role I've been given,'' he said. "But I know also there's a lot more energy in me to play a better role. Whatever the role is, there's a lot of energy.

"Whether it's my last or first or second or third year of my contract, it doesn’t really matter. I just try to do the best I can every time I'm out there. Right now, I just want to play for the Wild, and I really want to play in the playoffs and have some fun there.''

About those playoffs: Bergenheim has a penchant for coming up big in postseason play, with 12 goals and five assists in 23 NHL playoff games for Tampa Bay and Florida.

Many of the Wild's top players took Wednesday morning off as the team held an optional practice at Ridder Arena, run by the assistant coaches, before heading to Nashville Wednesday afternoon.

RACHEL BLOUNT

Wild gets ahead of rental market, acquires Sean Bergenheim from Florida

Posted by: Michael Russo Updated: February 24, 2015 - 8:25 PM

The Wild got out in front of the rental market.

Just prior to Tuesday’s game against the Edmonton Oilers, the Wild and Florida Panthers consummated a deal that brought veteran winger Sean Bergenheim to the Wild along with a 2016 seventh-round pick for a 2016 third-round pick.

“Sooner the better. No sense waiting to [Monday’s] deadline,” General Manager Chuck Fletcher said. “Looking for a guy with some experience, looking for depth with three forwards out. We were looking to find a proven guy with playoff experience who’s willing to compete, go to the net and pursue pucks. Sean brings all those attributes.”

In 489 career games with the Islanders, Lightning and Panthers, Bergenheim has scored 95 goals and 179 points. He has especially produced in the playoffs with 12 goals and 17 points in 23 games.

He skates well, is strong defensively and can play up in a top-6 role if needed. He loves to shoot the puck.

Bergenheim, 31, frustrated with his lack of ice time and a string of healthy scratches in Florida, asked to be traded recently. The price all month had been a second-round pick.

Fletcher, who has been adamant that he won’t trade his first-round pick, top prospects or second-round pick after trading three in the past two years, traded this year’s third to Arizona for goalie Devan Dubnyk.

So Fletcher offered next year’s third and counterpart Dale Tallon finally took it for Bergenheim, who last played Feb. 12 at Minnesota.

“Sean was frustrated with his lack of ice time and came to me,” Tallon told Florida reporters. “He was injured a lot, injured a lot his whole career. But when he was healthy, he played hard, he played well. We had that big playoff run for us a couple years and had a good year that year and he had been injured ever since.”

Bergenheim filed a grievance against the Panthers in 2013 after the team claimed he sustained a sports hernia playing in Finland during the lockout and didn’t play him. Bergenheim said the injury occurred during that 2011-12 playoff run, and he won the grievance and got his salary.

Bergenheim, a 2002 first-round pick by the Islanders, is the Wild’s sixth Finn on the roster and is expected to meet the team Wednesday afternoon in Nashville, where he may debut Thursday. He had eight goals and 18 points in 39 games with the Panthers this season.

It would not be shocking if Bergenheim’s acquisition opens the door to trading veteran Kyle Brodziak, a center who has been playing wing the past few weeks and who’s in the last year of his contract.

The Wild has also inquired about Arizona skilled center Antoine Vermette, but the price is high right now. Fletcher is only looking to trade lesser assets, but the Wild has struggled all year in the faceoff circle beyond Mikko Koivu and Vermette’s seventh in the NHL in the circle.

The Wild is also in search of a depth defenseman, preferably a left-shot one.

Wild GM Chuck Fletcher: "We’re in a perilous position for our season"

Posted by: Michael Russo Updated: January 14, 2015 - 8:06 PM

Considering I woke up in Pittsburgh like 19 hours ago, it’s been a slightly busy day. If you didn’t see all the day’s events, please see the previous meaty blog. Lots of good quotes in there.

Lots of good quotes in here, too.

About an hour ago, I got off the phone with General Manager Chuck Fletcher, who has been in Ft. Lauderdale conducting scouting meetings. Almost every team in the league right now is doing their amateur and/or pro scouting meetings, and they don’t seem to do them in Winnipeg or the Yukon Territory.

They usually go to Boca, Lauderdale, Palm Springs, Vegas and Scottsdale. You can the picture.

Fletcher said this hasn’t been the most relaxing few days of his life. The stressed, very disappointed GM said he actually had to leave the scouts in the middle of watching Tuesday’s 7-2 loss at Pittsburgh because he was so disturbed at what he was watching.

“It’s like a dark cloud hanging over us,” Fletcher said. “It’s unbelievable. Anything that can go wrong is going wrong right now, I can tell you that much.”

Earlier this evening, Fletcher traded a third-round pick to Arizona for goalie Devan Dubnyk, who had a rough year last year as I described on the previous blog but seems to have rehabilitated his career this year.

“I don’t think it’s any secret we have bigger expectations for our goaltending than what they’ve provided for us this season,” Fletcher said. “We were looking to add some depth and add a goaltender that’s capable of coming in and winning games and pushing the other two as well. We need to play better team defense in general, but I think adding another goaltender made a lot of sense. It’s not easy to find players this time of the year. More players are looking to add players than subtract and we’re fortunate we were able to get Devan. He’s had a very good season in Arizona and four of his last five seasons his statistics are quite good and at this point we’re hoping he can deliver more of the same. We’re just looking for him to play the way he’s played in four of the last five years and we’ll go from there. And hopefully the competition will help too.”

Dubnyk, who is supposedly an awesome guy and more importantly a great quote (yes, it’s about me), is expected to join his new team in Buffalo. Coach Mike Yeo hopes that he’ll be able to start Thursday against the Sabres, but the two will chat on Thursday to make sure he’s able.

The hope is Darcy Kuemper, pulled in five of his past seven home starts before aggravating a lower-body injury, can return before the All-Star break or right after. I asked Fletcher directly if he would try to get Kuemper to maybe accept a conditioning stint and play a few games for Iowa during the NHL All-Star break, and he said yes.

Harding is still out with multiple sclerosis issues: “It’s too hard to speculate” if he’ll play again for the Wild, Fletcher said. “He isn’t an option for us right now and isn’t close to being an option.”

Niklas Backstrom has allowed 30 goals in his past eight starts.

If Kuemper, Backstrom and Dubnyk are healthy all at the same time, Fletcher said the Wild will have to carry three goalies on its 23-man roster.

Fletcher said, “We need to find out what our team really is. I’ve been waiting for the answers to come from the inside. I’ve been calling around for weeks. It’s not easy to get teams to sell players early. Most teams are still in and we’ve been waiting and hoping that the answers would come from within, but we’re at a very critical time right now. We’ve got to stabilize here. We’ve got to find a way to win a game and start to play the right way. You’re not just going to snap your fingers and everything’s going to get back to normal, but we’ve shown at points of this year we’re a good hockey team, we have good players, we have good coaches and we need to find a way to become a good team again. Right now we’re not a good team and this is a small step. Everybody’s lost confidence and that happens when you go through these stretches.

“I thought it was time for me to give this team a shot in the arm and we’ll keep trying. We’ll see if we can add more pieces. If we can do it great, but it has to come from the inside too and maybe this is a spark they need to get going.

“I think Mike’s a good coach, and I think we have a good team. But right now we’re in a perilous position for our season and we have to win some games. We’re capable of doing it. But we have to stabilize here. We’ll see where it takes us. We’ve got to get going. We’re better than this. It’s time. It’s more than time.”

Fletcher again said that Yeo is safe.

“We’ve got an overall performance issue here,” he said. “I’m not looking at Mike at all right now. He’s our coach. He’s a good coach.”


OK, that's it for me. I think I've written 50,000 words today. I'm spent. Night. Talk to you after the morning skates Thursday.

A deeper look into today's Matt Moulson/Cody McCormick acquisitions

Posted by: Michael Russo Updated: March 5, 2014 - 8:10 PM

First of all, I’m sorry to report my Thursday online chat has been scrapped. I’ll have to postpone until next week because the Wild has pushed back Thursday’s practice so Matt Moulson and Cody McCormick can arrive in time and Friday I’ll need to hustle to the airport after practice to fly to Dallas.

But I’ll do my best to answer as many questions here as I can.

Matt Moulson will wear No. 26 here. And Cody McCormick No. 8.

OK, have a good night.

No, seriously, as for the trade of Moulson and McCormick from Buffalo for Torrey Mitchell and two second-round picks, heck of a deal in my estimation. As I say often, Chuck Fletcher is nothing if not bold, and always has something up his sleeve.

I always find the maturation of an organization fascinating, and it’s interesting how the Wild has transitioned from being a trade-deadline seller to a buyer the past two years.

Last year, the Wild arguably paid a big price for Jason Pominville (two prospects and a first were the highlights), but Pominville had another year left on his deal and the Wild was obviously immediately interested in extending him, which it did by five years starting next year right before this season.

This year, Fletcher looked into doing similar “hockey trades,” but in the end, he likes the chemistry of this team, wanted to avoid trading a first-round pick for a second consecutive year and didn’t want to trade any of his top prospects. So early this morning, when he quickly realized he may be able to consummate a “draft pick” deal for Moulson with Sabres GM Tim Murray, that’s where he began to focus.

Other GM’s were dangling their rentals and asking for prospects like Matt Dumba, Gustav Olofsson and Kurtis Gabriel, Fletcher said, and he had no interest.  The other thing that made the Moulson/McCormick swap so intriguing was Fletcher would be able to include Mitchell, who wanted out, in the deal. That’s no slight against Mitchell, but he was playing a fourth-line role, so he’s replaced by the gritty, hard-nosed McCormick and the Wild gets out from under the $2.5 million salary and $1.9 million cap hit Mitchell had owed to him next season. That’ll create more roster and cap flexibility.

Now, before I get more into detail of what Fletcher/Moulson said during today’s availability, I try my best to answer two questions I see I’ve been asked most on Twitter (since most people seem to want news in abbreviated 140-character like methods, this will save those people from having to read through the rest of the minutia included on what’s bound to be a super-sized blog).

1. What will the lines look like? Well, I don’t have the answer for you because we’ll see an initial taste as to what coach Mike Yeo is thinking at Thursday’s practice. But my shot in the dark for at least Thursday’s practice is similar to what I guessed on Twitter earlier today, but it has changed a little.

Zach Parise-Mikael Granlund-Jason Pominville

Matt Moulson-Mikko Koivu-Charlie Coyle

Matt Cooke-Kyle Brodziak-Dany Heatley

Cody McCormick-Erik Haula-Justin Fontaine-Nino Niederreiter

I think at least in Thursday’s practice, we’ll see these top 2 lines. We saw earlier this season putting Heatley on the fourth line didn’t work, so maybe they eventually go with a Moulson-Koivu-Heatley line and Cooke-Coyle-Nino on the third. That would mean the fourth would be a combination of McCormick, Haula, Brodziak and Fontaine.

Yeo will have a lot of options and I’m sure there will be tinkering.  For instance, I’m not sure what he’s thinking, but maybe McCormick plays against the rugged teams (Wild played St. Louis three times down the stretch and could be staring at the Blues in the first round) and sits against the faster teams.

Obviously, there are always injuries, too, so no lines are set in stone. If the Wild’s healthy, I think it’s clear that Jason Zucker will initially have to return to Iowa when he gets healthy.

2. Does trading for Moulson preclude the Wild from signing Thomas Vanek if it so wishes in the offseason?

Well, only if at the end of the day the Wild re-signs Moulson. And it’s honestly way too soon to think about it. As of now, it’s a rental. Now, if Moulson plays so well and fits in so well and the Wild does damage in the playoffs, yes, the Wild I’m sure would absolutely consider re-signing Moulson.

“You never know,” Fletcher said. “I’m open-minded.”

Moulson also echoed that, but he too said it’s the last thing he’s thinking about right now: “We’ll see what happens. I think that’s the last thing I’ve thought about right now is free agency. I have a million other things going through my mind,” like “getting to a new team and trying to help them win.”

So again, so many things can happen between now and July 1. The cap isn’t unlimited. The Wild has to analyze its needs going into next season and how much money it can spend in certain areas. The biggest priority will be figuring out its goalie situation. Then it’ll figure out everything else.

I do think it's fair to say the Wild was in on Vanek. I think it's also very clear to say that Islanders GM Garth Snow held onto his cards WAY too long and got caught in a gigantic way. He basically wound up having to trade Vanek to Montreal for a mid-level prospect and MAYBE two draft picks if Montreal makes the playoffs. Not good after acquiring Vanek for Moulson, a first and a second.

Regardless, put Vanek in the back of your head and … don’t ask me again about him until May, maybe June.

Onward:

Fletcher says he drove to the Wild’s offices today not knowing if he would be able to make a trade. If he couldn’t, he would be OK with that because he’s been very happy with the current team and how it’s been playing.

But he felt he owed it to the players to kick some tires and try to improve the team and “reward” them for a job well done the past few months. He said it’s important to send messages in this business.

But, he didn’t want to trade his prospects or his first.

He zeroed in on Buffalo because the Wild has been scouting the Sabres for weeks (humorously, the day after that late-January bogus report out of Buffalo came out that the Wild made an offer for Ryan Miller and a trade could be imminent, assistant GM Brent Flahr was in town scouting looking at guys like Miller and Drew Stafford. Miller didn’t even start the game). Fletcher has also had tons of trade talks with Tim Murray and they discussed several scenarios about many different things.

“As the day wore on, we got fortunate,” Fletcher said. “We got fortunate to get in a situation where Buffalo was willing to discuss a draft-pick trade with us. It’s a good deal for them. They get two draft picks. And from our standpoint, we were able to acquire a very good goal scorer in Matt Moulson, a big, energetic, gritty guy in Cody McCormick, who we feel will be very important for us down the stretch. And perhaps as importantly, we were able to move some cap space for next season. So we accomplished the things we set out to do and were able to do so by moving a couple draft picks over a three-year span. Coming into today with about $4-plus million in cap space on a full year basis, we’re pretty happy with what we were able to accomplish.

Moulson was intriguing because the Wild, if you didn’t know, have to work really hard some nights to score goals. Minnesota ranks 25th in the NHL at 2.36 goals per game, so thank goodness for its goaltending and sixth-best goals against.

“Historically, this team has not been a high-scoring team,” Fletcher said. “We have not been the last couple years. I do believe however the last six, eight weeks, we’re probably scoring [2.74] goals per game. So we have been better offensively lately, but when you look at our club, you probably wouldn’t describe us as a high-end offensive team. I think that’s fair. … If we can add somebody that can help us score another goal every other game or something to that effect, we think that’ll make a big difference.

On the lines and options Yeo now has at his disposal, Fletcher said, “We’re trying to get to a place where we have at least three lines that can score and play defense. A lot gets made out of line combinations and who plays with whom, and I understand that, and if Zach’s playing with Mikko and all these different things, but ultimately to be successful, and I think we saw this a little bit in the playoffs last year, you need to have more than one line that you can rely on. Mike has experimented a lot this year with different line combinations; I think that’s great. I think all the players are used to playing with different players. But obviously these two players will give us more depth and if we can get to a place where we have two or three lines that teams have to worry about offensively, two power-play units that teams have to worry about, so you maybe don’t even have a No.  1 and a No.  2 unit, you have a 1A and a 1B, that makes you much more difficult to coach against, to play against and to gameplan against, and I think that’s where we want to get to.”

As I mentioned on a blog last week when the Wild acquired Brad Winchester (he’s in Iowa), it’s very clear the Wild has made a conscious decision to try to get bigger the last few years. Look back at that blog (I think it posted last Wednesday in Edmonton), but it had all the players I’m talking about on there.

“And even look at the draft last year with Olofsson and Kurtis Gabriel who’s really come on this year and [UMD’s] Carson Soucy,” Fletcher said. “We really are trying to get bigger. First you try to get skill, then hopefully you can add some size. It’s a big man’s league. Maybe some people would disagree with me, but I really truly believe that the officiating standards change as the year goes on and what’s a penalty early in the year is not necessarily a penalty later in the year and that’s OK. But you have to be able to skate through hooks and interferences and some of the other things that are a little more prevalent. It becomes a bigger man’s game – or more of a competitive man’s game. You have to compete and certainly size helps, but I think that’s an area every team looks to this time of year and we’ve made a conscious effort in that regard.”

How does this year compare to the Pominville deadline deal? “Last year with Pominville, he had a year left on his contract so we were prepared to pay a big price. We really felt we needed to add more talent and with Pominville you’re getting a guy that was a captain in this league, who has a tremendous amount of character and a very good two-way player. But he’s also a talented offensive player. We wanted more talent to play with Koivu and Parise and Suter and to play with our top end guys. We’re becoming a more talented team as we see the evolution of Granlund and Coyle and Zucker and Niederreiter and these types of players. This year there was a little bit more risk I suppose because Moulson’s contract is expiring. But yet any time you’re paying second-round picks for good hockey players, to me, it’s a really good move. We’re very comfortable with the gamble. We’re fortunate – our scouts do a great job. They nail picks left and right. So to give up a second-round pick, to me they’ll probably hit on the third. And so I’m able to take some chances with our picks because of the way our scouts draft.”

On making a trade with his buddy Tim Murray (friends from Florida and Anaheim), Fletcher jokingly said, “No, he was tough. But fortunately I have some good background information on him that he doesn’t want revealed. No, Timmy did a great job today. He picked up some picks and some prospects and that team will turn around quickly. He knew what he was doing. He moved a couple pending UFAs and got a couple second round picks for them so it’s a good deal for him and a deal we’re very, very comfortable making with where we’re at as a franchise right now.

On today’s market: “It was a different market. To me, prices went down a little bit this year. You saw basically a lot of pretty good hockey players who are pending UFAs getting traded for the equivalent of two second-rounders, or a second-rounder and a prospect. Certainly situations like that as opposed to late first-round picks. Teams seemed to hold on to their first-round picks this year. The other interesting thing about it is there were a lot of goal scorers that were traded and a lot of goalies. I can never remember another year where this many talented goaltenders switched teams. And you go through the list and some of them may be a little bit older, but again really well-recognized, established goaltenders were traded. I’ve never seen a year like that, and a lot of goal scorers and very few defensemen. Some years there’s more defensemen. Every year has a different tone, but I think you saw teams pulling back a little bit this year unwilling maybe to trade that first-rounder or that elite prospect, and maybe offering seconds and third-round picks instead, which obviously we were very happy with.”

“It’s difficult to move first-round picks,” Fletcher continued. “We did it last year and, again, we’re thrilled, but in this cap system you have to draft and develop. First-rounders are typically anywhere from 50 to 90 percent success rate depending on where in the first round you select. Second-rounders can be 25 to 30 percent, so there’s a massive drop-off. You’ve got to hold on to your first-rounders a lot. Occasionally you’ve got to step up, and again, it was a great decision for us last year. This year to me it was not, we wanted to hold on to our firsts and we did and that’s a good thing.”

Moulson said, “Minnesota is an incredible hockey state. The fans of Minnesota, it’s pretty easy to see how passionate they are. It’s exciting to go to a team that’s doing extremely well right now and a great fan base. I’m just excited to get there and help this team win any way I can.”

On what he knows about the Wild: “I think when you’re in different conferences you don’t see the other too much. But obviously you follow the league and see the love that the Wild have been getting and playing extremely well obviously. They’ve got some great players, so I’m excited to be a part of that group and try to get some wins.”

On Buffalo: “Obviously there’s been a lot of change. I think I’ve gone through the most change I’ve ever had in my career this year being traded from the Islanders and going through some changes in Buffalo, but obviously I’m very thankful to the Sabres – they took my family and I in. It was a quick transition there. I think my son was two-weeks-old when I got traded. It was a little bit of a whirlwind but obviously I made some pretty close friends in the last couple months, but I guess I’ve been rumored for a while that they’d probably try to shop me off again. So I’m definitely a lot more ready for it this time than the last time around. It’s something I was prepared for and got my family prepared for. We’re just excited to be part of the Wild family now.”

Who does he know on the Wild: “I know Nino a little bit. Zach Parise is good friends with Kyle Okposo so I know him by association, and I was able to text with him. I feel like I know him pretty well just through Kyle Okposo so other than that I don’t know too many guys, I didn’t know too many guys when I went to Buffalo, so I don’t really see that as a problem. The hockey group takes guys in and makes them feel pretty welcome right away.”

I didn’t talk with McCormick today. I’ll talk to him after Thursday’s practice, but like Moulson, the Buffalo writers say he’s a great guy and a player that should help.

OK, that’s it for me. I've got to do my Wild Minute and get upstairs, watch a period or two of high-school hockey and get home. Talk to you after Thursday’s practice.

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