Kyle Brodziak will be getting a big payday around the corner, whether he signs an extension with the Wild in the coming days or tests free agency July 1.
But if you think this is a fun time for the center, think again. The Wild is in preliminary contract talks with his agent, but Brodziak is doing his best not to pay attention.
"I hate it," Brodziak said. "That's why I'm not trying to think about it. I've never had to deal with this before, so I don't really like it. I hate the fact of having to think about different scenarios and things like that. It's not really fun for me."
The Wild will be in St. Louis this weekend, where Brodziak's agent is based. Asked if agent Allain Roy and GM Chuck Fletcher might meet face-to-face, Brodziak said, "I have no idea. See, that's how concerned I am with it right now. We're in no rush, really. Obviously, if it comes close to the [Feb. 27 trade] deadline, then I might worry about it a little more."
That's because Brodziak knows if unsigned, the Wild may trade the two-way pivot. He hopes it doesn't get to that point. Even though the Wild entered Tuesday's game against Anaheim with 20 losses in 25 games (5-15-5), Brodziak said, "I still love it here. I hope something can get done."
The Wild also is interested in extending the contract of potential free-agent defenseman Clayton Stoner. As for its other free agents, if the losses continue, the Wild likely would be willing to part with defensemen Greg Zanon and Mike Lundin and goalie Josh Harding.
Also, the Wild continues its attempt to trade veteran defenseman Marek Zidlicky.
Zidlicky, who has one more year on his contract at $4 million, voiced his displeasure over being scratched recently. If Fletcher finds a partner, it'll be up to Zidlicky whether to waive his no-trade clause.
A number of current and former Houston Aeros players on the Wild roster felt for Justin Fontaine, who was suspended by the team for two Aeros games after tweeting an offensive slur Sunday.
"It's tough lesson for a great kid," center Warren Peters said. "What's lost in all this is the person that Justin Fontaine is. It's his first year pro and he does it the right way. He appreciates every day coming to the rink and treats everybody with a ton of respect.
"I feel bad that he's getting all this attention for a negative reason. It's a hard lesson."
In an attempt to snap Matt Cullen out of a scoring slump that entered 12 games Tuesday, coach Mike Yeo moved the yearlong center to left wing on the Brodziak-Nick Johnson line.
"I think Cully's been playing well here. The numbers haven't been there for him, but he's doing a lot of good things," Yeo said. "As much as anything else, it's about surrounding him with some guys who are capable of helping him take advantage of his skill.''
Back at it
Harding returned to the Wild nets for the first time since allowing four third-period goals in the Wild's collapse against Nashville on Jan. 31. "I know Hards has the ability to be a starting goalie in the NHL," Yeo said. "But in order for that to happen, these are the type of things you have to deal with. So, let's give him a chance to go out there and see how he responds to that."