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Russo's Rants

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

Wild, Erik Haula settle, agree to 2-year, $2 million deal


Erik Haula is unsigned no more.

The Wild and Haula's agent beat a Sunday arbitration decision by agreeing on a two-year, $2 million deal. Haula would have been awarded a one-year deal between $775,000 and $1.2 million later today.

Haula will receive $950,000 in Year 1 and $1.05 million in Year 2.

All of the Wild's NHL restricted free agents have been re-signed. Iowa Wild defenseman Jon Blum and winger Brett Bulmer remain unsigned. It's believed Blum, who has been on the trading block, has options in Europe, but he has yet to decide to go that route.

Been asked a bunch today: When Haula filed for arbitration, yes, that triggered a second buyout window for the Wild. That starts Wednesday and lasts 48 hours. But, again, it is not an option with Niklas Backstrom. As I reported last month, Backstrom has not been cleared from offseason elbow surgery and thus for a second consecutive offseason cannot be bought out. The expectation is he'll be cleared by training camp.

Here is the updated Wild depth chart:

Here’s a look at how the Wild is shaping up to look like next season. This will change throughout the summer if the Wild add and delete players.

The depth chart is my opinion. Obviously, lines change, roles change (maybe Charlie Coyle to wing eventually), etc.

In parentheses, each player’s cap hits.


Left wing                              Center                                    Right wing

Zach Parise ($7.5+M)       Mikael Granlund ($3M)       Jason Pominville (5.6M)

Jason Zucker (900+K)      Mikko Koivu (6.75M)          Thomas Vanek ($6.5M)  

Nino Niederreiter (2.66M) Charlie Coyle (3.2M)       Justin Fontaine (1M)

Ryan Carter (625K)              Erik Haula (1M)                  ---------------------------

Vying for spots: Jordan Schroeder (600K), Tyler Graovac, (747,500); Brett Sutter (600K), Zac Dalpe (600K), Ruslan Fedotenko (600K), Michael Keranen (675K), Marc Hagel (605K), Kurtis Gabriel (667K), Zack Mitchell (615K), Brady Brassart ($836,667), Raphael Bussieres ($759,167), Grayson Downing (692,500), Pavel Jenys (688,333), Christoph Bertschy (575K), Jared Knight (761K), Brett Bulmer (RFA).


Left Defense                     Right Defense

Ryan Suter (7.5+M)         Jonas Brodin (4.1+M)

Marco Scandella (4M)     Jared Spurgeon (2.66M)

Mike Reilly (925K)       Matt Dumba (894,167) 

Nate Prosser (625K)         Christian Folin (725,000)

Vying for spots: Folin, Tyson Strachan (650K), Jon Blum (RFA), Zach Palmquist (692,500), Gustav Olofsson (795K), Guillaume Gelinas ($596,667), Dylan Labbe (692,500), Alex Gudbranson (610K), Hunter Warner (598,333).


Devan Dubnyk (4.33M)

Darcy Kuemper (1.25M) 

Niklas Backstrom (3.42M)

Minor-league goalies: Brody Hoffman (925K), Stephen Michalek (687,500).

*Wild’s expected to sign another goaltender for Iowa.

Total cap hit roughly: $69,821,342 ($71.4 million ceiling).

*Includes $500K buyout cap hit for Matt Cooke.

**Excludes potential bonuses for Reilly and Dumba for purposes of calculating the cap. A club is permitted to exceed the upper limit provided the overage is the direct result of performance bonuses. If this is the case, a club is only allowed to exceed the upper limit by 7.5 percent, which is $5.355 million (7.5 percent x $71.4M).

Available cap space: $1,578,658. Part of this cap space will be eaten up if hopefuls like Graovac, Schroeder and Folin make the team.

If injured goalie Niklas Backstrom is still on the roster as a third goalie come the season, the Wild would have to keep two extra skaters opposed to three. If the Wild keeps two extra defensemen, that would mean no extra forwards.

Remember, this cap space is deceiving because the Wild needs to leave a cushion for injuries and flexibility to make in-season adjustments (i.e. trades).

Russo: Haula hearing Friday morning and other notes

1. Unless one side caves or compromises or whatever you want to call it from a few hours ago, the Wild and Erik Haula will go to an 8 a.m. CT Friday arbitration hearing. Again, this was as of a couple hours ago. The gap is $425,000 between what each side is seeking from the arbitrator, so one sitdown could potentially change things. Both sides are currently in Toronto.

But I'd be surprised if this isn't going to arb.

If the two sides don't settle before an arbitrator makes his decision (if it gets to arbitration) 48 hours after the hearing, Haula will be awarded a one-year deal between $775,000 and $1.2 million.

2. On Wednesday at 1 p.m. at TCF Bank Stadium, the NHL will hold a news conference regarding the Feb. 21 Stadium Series game between the Wild and Chicago Blackhawks. Details about the alumni game, the game's logo and perhaps some ticket intel will be announced. Jerseys will be unveiled at a later time.

At the presser will be NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman, Wild owner Craig Leipold, Wild Chief Operating Officer Matt Majka, Wild players Zach Parise, Thomas Vanek, a freshly-signed Haula, Mike Reilly and Jordan Schroeder, University of Minnesota Athletic Director Norwood Teague, Blackhawks prez John McDonough and colleague Jay Blunk and Lou Nanne and Troy Murray representing the North Stars/Wild and Blackhawks alumni, respectively.

This is old hat for the Hawks, so Patrick Kane, Jonathan Toews, Duncan Keith and Co. have something better to do and won't be in town for the presser.

Lunch will be served, so plenty of media will be in attendance.

3. Hockey Day Minnesota 2016, the 10th Hockey Day, was officially announced this morning in Duluth. The date will be Feb. 6 and the host site will be Bayfront Park, a beautiful place on Lake Superior where I recently watched Trampled by Turtles in concert.

(Cutting and pasting parts of the press release now)

Proceeds of the event will benefit Duluth area youth hockey programs. Year 2016 will mark a decade of Hockey Day Minnesota celebrations.
"We are thrilled to bring Wells Fargo Hockey Day Minnesota 2016 to Duluth's Bayfront Park," said Minnesota Wild Vice President of Brand Content and Communications John Maher. "Duluth has a vibrant hockey community that extends from youth to the pros, which will be a delight to showcase. Additionally, we believe the unique setting and the community's enthusiasm will combine for a magical 10th edition of Hockey Day Minnesota."

Duluth's festivities will be part of a television event broadcast on FOX Sports North starting at 9 a.m. The first game will feature a battle between Section 7A rivals the Duluth Denfeld Hunters and the Eveleth-Gilbert Golden Bears. This will be the first Hockey Day appearance for the Hunters and the second for the Golden Bears, who fell to Lake of the Woods 5-0 on Baudette Bay in 2008.  
The second game will feature a state championship rematch between Duluth East and Lakeville North. The Panthers capped their undefeated season by beating the underdog Greyhounds 4-1 to earn the 2015 Minnesota State High School League Boys' Hockey AA Championship title on March 7 at Xcel Energy Center in Saint Paul. This will be the third Hockey Day appearance for Duluth East (2009, 2012) and the first for Lakeville North.
Hockey Day Minnesota 2016 will be capped off as the Minnesota Wild face off against the St. Louis Blues at 7 p.m. CT in St. Louis. Wells Fargo Hockey Day Minnesota 2016 on FOX Sports North will include a full day of hockey-related programming designed as a celebration of the game from peewees to pros. Ticket information, game schedule including collegiate matchups, and additional programming details for Hockey Day Minnesota 2016 will be announced at a later date.
The outdoor games will be played on a specially-constructed rink set against the backdrop of Lake Superior in Duluth's Bayfront Park. In the event the outdoor ice is deemed unplayable due to weather, outdoor games would be moved to the Duluth Heritage Sports Center.
"It's hard to believe it has been 10 years since the first Hockey Day in Baudette," said Mike Dimond, senior vice president and general manager of FOX Sports North. "Over the past decade, Hockey Day Minnesota has turned into a state holiday in celebration of this great game, the lifestyle, and values it fosters. All of us at FOX Sports North are especially proud to be a part of something so special and look forward to carrying on the tradition this year in Duluth."

Hockey Day Minnesota was originated in 2007 by the Minnesota Wild to celebrate the game that has made Minnesota the State of Hockey. It is produced in partnership with FOX Sports North, Minnesota Hockey and the respective local community that serves as host each year. Previous locations include Baudette Bay (2007, 2008), Phalen Park (2009), Hermantown (2010), Moorhead (2011), Minnetonka (2012), Grand Rapids (2013), Elk River (2014) and Saint Paul (2015).

TV Listings

Local Schedule

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  • Twins at Toronto

    12:07pm on FSN, 96.3-FM

  • Saints at Fargo-Moorhead

    7pm on 1220-AM

  • Twins at Toronto

    6:07pm on FSN, 96.3-FM

  • Lynx at Los Angeles

    9pm on ESPN2, 106.1-FM

  • Twins at Toronto

    6:07pm on FSN, 96.3-FM

  • Minnesota United FC at New York


  • Lincoln at Saints

    7:05pm on 1220-AM

  • Twins at Toronto

    6:07pm on FSN, 96.3-FM

  • Live racing


  • Lincoln at Saints

    7:05pm on 1220-AM

  • Twins at Cleveland

    6:10pm on FSN, 96.3-FM

  • Live racing


  • Lincoln at Saints

    7:05pm on 1220-AM

  • Lynx at Phoenix

    9pm on 106.1-FM

  • Twins at Cleveland

    6:10pm on FSN, 96.3-FM

  • Live racing


  • FC Edmonton at Minnesota United FC

    7pm on Ch. 45

  • Winnipeg at Saints

    7:05pm on 105.1-FM

  • Twins at Cleveland

    12:10pm on FSN, 96.3-FM

  • Live racing


  • Winnipeg at Saints

    5:05pm on 1220-AM

  • Los Angeles at Lynx

    6pm on FSN, 106.1-FM

  • Vikings vs. Pittsburgh

    7pm on Ch. 11, 100.3/1130

Today's Scoreboard

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