The Wild will get plenty of opportunities to see its 2009 first-round draft pick Nick Leddy, the former Gophers defenseman the Wild traded to the Blackhawks during the 2009-10 season along with Kim Johnsson for Cam Barker, as the teams continue their series in the second round of the Stanley Cup playoffs. The trade might end up as the worst in Wild history.
Barker, the No. 3 overall pick in the 2004 draft, scored 12 points in 71 games over two seasons with the Wild before being placed on waivers and is now playing in the KHL in Russia.
Leddy, who signed a two-year contract extension after the Blackhawks’ Stanley Cup victory last year, has thrived and was one of the defensive stars of Game 1 Friday. He also had an assist in the 5-2 victory. He was the third-leading scorer for Chicago defensemen this season with 31 points on seven goals and 24 assists.
• ESPN recently predicted the Gophers football team will finish fifth in the Big Ten West. They had the Gophers finishing 5-7 overall and wrote, “Minnesota is projected to slip from last season’s eight-win campaign not due to any one particular factor, but the combination of elements in the projection formula. … Their recruiting rankings haven’t dramatically improved, and among the starters they are looking to replace is the quarterback.”
• Former Gophers defenseman Erik Johnson was nearly the hero of the Wild-Avalanche series when he scored his first career playoff goal with less than eight minutes left to give Colorado its fourth one-goal lead of Game 7 on Wednesday night, but the Wild completed a historic comeback to move on.
• Former Holy Angels receiver Larry Fitzgerald Jr. was in town this past week to deliver free Lenovo computer tablets to children at Adelante College Prep in Minneapolis. The Arizona Cardinals star will do the same thing this week at a school in Phoenix.
• Apple Valley’s Tyus Jones will get one of his first tests in a Duke uniform when the Blue Devils play at Wisconsin in the ACC/Big Ten Challenge Dec. 3. … Rochester Mayo power forward Dan Jech is playing AAU ball with the Minneapolis Cyclones and made a nice impression with a double-double at the Jayhawk Invitational in Kansas. … Highly recruited Grand Rapids forward Alex Illikainen got a scholarship offer from Providence, where his sister Molly plays hockey. Gophers coach Richard Pitino and assistant Ben Johnson have attended a lot of Illikainen’s games.
• The Mayo Clinic Sports Medicine Center expansion opens Monday in Rochester. Michael Stuart, the co-director of the center, told the Post-Bulletin newspaper that the Mayo building on Block E that’s being built with the Timberwolves will be a similar, impressive space.