Training camp is two weeks today, so get ready to start returning to the blog on a daily basis for Wild news.
-- Today, the Wild announced the hiring of ex-NHL goalie Frederic Chabot as goaltending development coach. Chabot, the former goalie coach in Edmonton whom Devan Dubnyk largely credits for much of his development, will work with Iowa goalies Brody Hoffman and Stephen Michalek and the other Wild goalie prospects.
-- The Wild has considered signing a veteran goalie to put in Iowa and act as the team's third goalie, but I think the Wild wants to get some clarity first on Niklas Backstrom before it makes that decision. As of now, the Wild's going into camp assuming Backstrom is on the team.
The big question is if Backstrom is on the roster as a third goalie and isn't traded or assigned to Europe, how will the Wild manage this awkward situation?
Both coach Mike Yeo and GM Chuck Fletcher wants Darcy Kuemper to get a good chunk of starts this season to spell Dubnyk at times, so it's doubtful the Wild wants to be in a position again where Kuemper has to share a net with Backstrom in practices.
They need Kuemper to get full reps in practice, so this will certainly be a training camp storyline if Backstrom is cleared to participate in camp from his offseason elbow surgery.
Speaking of that, Backstrom was scheduled to return to the Twin Cities on Thursday and see team doctors Friday to see if he'll get cleared for the start of camp. If he's not cleared and can't start the season, the Wild can technically put him on long-term injury relief if he'd miss 10 games or 24 days to gain a roster spot and exceed the cap if needed, but Fletcher said that would only be a temporary solution because he's not considered a long ways off.
If you've tuned out the Wild all summer and have no clue what I'm talking about, check out this link for a refresher on one of the handful of stories I've written this summer on the Backstrom situation.
-- Fletcher said as of now he's not inclined to bring in any unsigned veterans to camp on pro tryouts, although he said that could change once he meets with the coaches next week. I have gotten the impression the Wild has at least talked about bringing in some center insurance like Stephen Weiss, but like I said, Fletcher told me right now it's not in his thinking. If the Wild suffers injury or poor performance in camp, Fletcher feels those options may still be there (for instance, maybe you sign Weiss or James Sheppard or Scott Gomez, who will go to St. Louis on a tryout) or there will be guys available via trade or waivers.
-- Oh, the latest Souhan-Russo Show is right here. Please give it a listen. They've been well-received, and there's tons of Wild talk always. On the latest edition, we talk Wild, Patrick Kane and so much more. All of the podcasts for Jim's entire network are at malepatternpodcasts.com.
-- If you happened to miss my Q and A with Fletcher at the State Fair on Wednesday, here is the link to the video. It is full of info and provides a pretty good overview on training camp and Fletcher's thoughts.
We talk about the younger players, the older players, the goalie situation (there's always a goalie situation on the Wild), expectations, of course the power play and the cap situation going into next summer with Jared Spurgeon, Jason Zucker, Matt Dumba, Kuemper and Justin Fontaine all entering the final years of their contract.
The highlight came of the interview came at the end when Fletcher said he must have been on medication when he made the Nick Leddy trade. Fletcher has admitted over and over again that he regrets the Leddy deal.
Leddy was traded for Cam Barker, who made this gaffe yesterday in the KHL: