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Russo's Rants

Michael Russo gives you complete coverage of the Minnesota Wild and the NHL

On the Wild: Russo's offseason primer and current depth chart

I’m leaving the country for a vacation today, so I wanted to leave you with a bit of an offseason primer, some things that’ll happen when I’m gone, some things that may happen while I’m gone and an updated depth chart.

1. Da Beauty League, the 4-on-4 league featuring local NHL stars and elite amateurs, begins tonight at Braemar Arena. The league runs every Wednesday in July and every Monday and Wednesday in August until the playoffs August 21 and 23. For more information on rosters and schedules, here’s their site.

2. Stanley Cup champion Jake Guentzel gets his day with the Cup on Thursday. From 1-3 p.m., Guentzel will bring the Cup to HealthEast Sports Center (4125 Radio Drive, Woodbury, formerly Bielenberg Sports Center). The public is welcome to view the Cup or have their picture taken with Guentzel and the Cup. I spoke with him yesterday, and he’s excited to bring the Cup to the rink where he basically grew up playing hockey.

3. I attended the Wild’s development camp scrimmage yesterday, and a real good showing by guys like Sam Anas (two goals), Carson Soucy (goal), Luke Kunin (goal), Jordan Greenway, Avery Peterson (sweet assist), Justin Kloos (goal) and others. Bruce Boudreau was mostly eyeballing guys he could see next season and he really liked Soucy and Greenway. James van Riemsdyk and family were in the crowd watching his brother, Brendan, who’s in on a tryout.

Camp comes to an end Thursday at Xcel Energy Center with another scrimmage that is free and open to the public at 5 p.m. From 6-9, the Wild’s holding a Block Party across from the arena at the Seven Corners parking lot. The event includes an autograph session with Jared Spurgeon and Tyler Ennis from 6:30-7:30 and Anas, Kunin and Greenway from 7:30-9.

Also, the Wild on the Water Fishing tournament will be at Izatys Resort at Mille Lacs Lake on Saturday. Fans can also attend the free Bash on the Beach event on from 12 to 4 p.m. Participants include Boudreau, Jason Zucker, Chris Stewart, Alex Stalock, Spurgeon, Ennis, Kurtis Gabriel, Brent Flahr, Darby Hendrickson, Derek Lalonde, Bob Mason, Mike Ramsey, Keith Ballard, Brad Bombardir, Andrew Brunette, Antti Laaksonen, Jordan Leopold and Stephane Veilleux.

4. The Staal Open is this weekend up in Thunder Bay. Starts Thursday. Here’s the family foundation’s site. I corresponded with Eric yesterday and they had an awesome pro-am that included several retired and current hockey players, including Justin Faulk.

5. At some point (possibly while I'm gone), the Wild will re-sign Mikael Granlund, Nino Niederreiter and Marcus Foligno (barring a trade). The Wild continues to negotiate all three, and we know at a minimum, the latest Niederreiter and Granlund will be complete is August 5 and 6, which is 48 hours after each of their respective hearings (if it gets to arbitration). Again, here is the story I wrote a few days ago with GM Chuck Fletcher talking about how the Wild’s attention has mostly shifted to the unsigned RFA’s and then the team will address whether it needs to sign another forward (MATT CULLEN) or two.

I interviewed Boudreau on KFAN on Tuesday when I was filling in for Paul Allen, and this is what he said on that subject: “I don’t think we’re done yet. It’s easy to see the amount of one-way contracts that are up front on our forward situation. We’re taking our time. There’s still a lot of good hockey players out there, but we will probably get one more for sure.”

(Subliminal message, Mark Parrish sporting the Cullen St. Cloud State T)

If you missed the show, you can podcast it here. Fun interview with Boudreau on fishing, his new junior team in Coon Rapids (, his hockey camp in Ontario and he’s honest on the team, especially Ennis and young D Gustav Olofsson and Mike Reilly, a fascinating interview with Richard Park, a real fun hour with Erik Stolhanske, Mark Parrish and Paul Fletcher, and also an hour with Lavelle E. Neal III and Guentzel.

6. Here’s the latest Russo-Souhan Show on all things Wild (Kaprizov, arbitration, Granlund, Niederreiter, Cullen, Gavin DeGraw and Walk off the Earth).

7. And, last but not least, the updated depth chart. No doubt (OK, my opinion, and clearly Boudreau's), the Wild still needs another NHL forward/center.

In parentheses, each player’s salary cap hits. Restricted free agents are denoted as RFA.

Rosters are a maximum 23 players. Typically, the Wild keeps 13 or 14 forwards, seven or eight defensemen and two goalies.

Depth chart is my opinion.

Left wing                    Center                           Right wing

Nino Niederreiter (RFA  Eric Staal ($3.5M)            Zach Parise ($7.538+M)       
Jason Zucker ($2M)      Mikko Koivu ($6.75M)       Mikael Granlund (RFA)     
Marcus Foligno (RFA    Charlie Coyle ($3.2M)       Tyler Ennis ($4.6M)
-------------------------         Joel Eriksson Ek (894+K   Chris Stewart ($1.15M)
Vying for spots: Eriksson Ek, Luke Kunin (925K), Landon Ferraro (700K), Kyle Rau, (700K), Cal O’Reilly (700K), Pat Cannone (600K), Christoph Bertschy ($775,833), Kurtis Gabriel (715K), Zack Mitchell (660K), Mario Lucia ($792,500), Sam Anas ($792,500), Justin Kloos ($792,500), Pavel Jenys ($678,833), Dante Salituro (725K), Adam Gilmour ($717,500), Chase Lang ($686,667).

Left Defense                     Right Defense

Ryan Suter ($7.538+M)    Jared Spurgeon ($5.187M)
Jonas Brodin ($4.166+M) Matt Dumba ($2.55M)
Gustav Olofsson (725K)   Kyle Quincey ($1.25M)
Mike Reilly (725K)    -------------------------------

Vying for spots: Olofsson, Reilly, Ryan Murphy (700K), Alex Grant (700K), Nick Seeler ($717,500), Hunter Warner ($636,667), Carson Soucy (925K), Zach Palmquist (726K), Gustav Bouramann (720K), Dylan Labbe ($692,500).

Devan Dubnyk (4.33M)
Alex Stalock (650K)
Vying for spots: Stalock, Niklas Svedberg (700K), Steve Michalek (715K), Adam Vay ($842,500).

Total cap hit: $59,258,591 ($75 million ceiling).
*Includes $2.5 million buyout cap hit for Thomas Vanek.

Available cap space: $15,741,409.
**Available cap space will be eaten up by roster hopefuls making the team, re-signings and outside signings.
***The Wild, like all teams, will save some cap space for callups and flexibility to make in-season adjustments (i.e. trades, waiver additions).

That's it for me. Talk to you in a few weeks. I don't have it in me to take a Twitter break, so I'll probably be on there at this link.

Scandella lauds Minnesota, says 'I understand why the trade happened'

As I tweeted a few weeks ago, Marco Scandella was always a class act to cover.

Case in point: My cell rings at 12:55 today and what do you know, it was the now former Wild defenseman calling to tell me how bad he felt that he hadn’t called back sooner after being traded to the Buffalo Sabres with Jason Pominville and a fourth-round pick for Tyler Ennis, Marcus Foligno and a third-round pick June 30.

Scandella was out of the country on vacation the day he was dealt and things have been understandably crazy since.

But Scandella wanted to thank the Wild and the team’s fans for his time here and talk about his excitement level about the new challenge ahead in Buffalo.

Interestingly, as tough as Scandella said it was to see and hear his name in trade rumors daily in the final weeks of June, he said it was helpful that GM Chuck Fletcher was in contact with his agent, Kent Hughes, the entire time.

So Scandella had a chance to mentally prepare in case something happened.

“Of course it’s not easy when you hear your name,” said Scandella, drafted in the second round in 2008 and the second-longest tenured Wild player (seven seasons) up until the trade. “It’s part of the business, but when the rumors are out there and you hear it on TV, too, it’s not easy. It was the first time in my career that I’ve gone through a trade, even since junior, so it was new to me and it’s a little bit stressful.

“I figured something was likely. Just looking at the situation with the team, with the cap issues, I knew it was very possible, especially when I realized my name was in the mix of things. It wasn’t easy. I got drafted by Minnesota, I love the guys, I love the city. I’ve always felt like it’s been a home for me. It doesn’t even feel like a second home. It always felt like home. It was tough at the beginning to get traded, but at the end of the day, it’s a new challenge and I’m super excited about the new challenge I have. But I’ll always cherish the years I had in Minnesota and all the great friends and all the people I’ve met over the years. It’s an incredible place to live and play hockey.”

Scandella is extremely excited to play for the Sabres and particularly first-year coach, Hall of Fame defenseman Phil Housley.

“Look at what he’s done with Nashville’s D corps,” Scandella said. “He was an All-Star defenseman, and that he believes in me gives me a lot of pride. I think we’re going to work really well together. I know I’m going to learn a lot off of him. I think he has a lot to teach. I’m all ears and I’m super excited about the new challenge.”

Coincidentally, Housley talked about Scandella for the first time to Buffalo reporters today. Courtesy of my pal Mike Harrington of the Buffalo News, Housley said, “Marco is a terrific player. I got to see Marco playing a lot being in that division with Minnesota. He was a key element to adding to our team. He's a fierce competitor. He was playing behind some guys, wanted more minutes, wanted an opportunity. Luckily for us, we got him. The way he can skate, is mobile ... A big part of our team is going to be mobility back there and he brings that.”

Scandella said he plans to visit Buffalo in about 10 days to find a place to live, tour the Sabres’ much-hyped facilities and see their doctors after having offseason hip surgery.

He also plans to have dinner in a couple days with Pominville, the former Sabres’ captain about to begin his second stint in Buffalo.

“I know Pommer’s always loved it there,” Scandella said. “Since I got traded, he’s been texting me and telling me, ‘You’re going to love it. Don’t worry. Everyone who goes there and plays there always loves it.’”

Scandella said he’s only looking at this experience as a positive. He doesn’t feel the Wild didn’t want him anymore, but he’s very proud Buffalo did.

“I understand why the trade happened,” Scandella, 27, said. “It’s not like Minnesota went, ‘We don’t want him anymore.’ Chuck’s done a great job of drafting, and once a team gets to that level and good players have to get re-signed [like Mikael Granlund and Nino Niederreiter and next year Jason Zucker and Matt Dumba], no matter what, you’re going to lose guys. It’s a great problem to have. It just so happens that I was the one that was pushed out of Minnesota, but it’s all positive. There’s no animosity. I’ve always respected Chuck, Bruce [Boudreau], and I had a great time in Minnesota. I’m going to miss it. I really am.

“But you know what, it’s just a new chapter in my life. You can’t dwell on things. The challenge is really exciting. I’m at an age where I feel like I’m really ready for a new challenge like this.”

Scandella’s also excited to be in the east and so close to his home in Montreal. He has an uncle in his 90s that likes to watch every game and a grandmother “getting up there in age, so my games on TV in Montreal, they’ll be very happy I’m playing at an earlier time. And of course, it’ll be easy to fly my mom in.”

If you’re a Sabre fan and want to read more about Scandella, here’s a couple features I think you’ll find informative.

Scandella's cool side translates well for Wild


Wild's Marco Scandella on his own now after his father's death

TV Listings

Local Schedule

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