Michael Russo has covered the National Hockey League since 1995. He has covered the Minnesota Wild for the Star Tribune since 2005, after 10 years of covering the Florida Panthers for the Sun-Sentinel. He uses “Russo’s Rants” to feed a wide-ranging hockey-centric discussion with readers, and can be heard weekly on KFAN (100.3 FM) radio and seen weekly on Fox Sports North.

Also find Russo on Facebook.

Email Michael to talk about hockey.

Wild won't be drafting a goalie in first round; schedule on horizon

Posted by: Michael Russo under Vikings draft, Wild off-season news Updated: June 14, 2012 - 5:17 PM

The Wild held its annual media draft luncheon down at Tom Reid's Hockey City Pub today, and the only thing definitely learned is something we all would have assumed anyway: The Wild will not be selecting a goalie at No. 7 overall in the first round of the NHL draft June 22 in Pittsburgh.

During the news conference today with GM Chuck Fletcher and assistant GM Brent Flahr, a reporter asked Flahr if there's a goalie that could potentially go in the top-10.

Flahr said, "Potentially," before Fletcher cut his right-hand man off and joked, "I’d fall off my chair if we draft a goalie at No. 7." Cracked Flahr: "I’d have to get my resume together probably."

Fletcher said the only way the Wild takes a goalie at 7 is if Flahr beats him to the microphone on stage: "Usually we don’t want to tip our hand, but we’re not drafting a goalie in the first round."

To make clear: Fletcher and Flahr meant absolutely no disrespect to Andrei Vasilevski, a potential top-10 pick and the top-rated goalie in the draft by the NHL's Central Scouting Service.

They were just making clear that the team has pretty good depth at goal with Matt Hackett, Darcy Kuemper, Johan Gustafsson and Stephen Michalek, and forward and defense is the priority.

As for the rest of the afternoon, same talking points as every draft luncheon: Flahr repeated the team's mantra and shared philosophy of most teams -- it drafts the best player available, not necessarily by position. The only exception to that came in 2010 when the Wild literally had no forwards coming down the pike (other than maybe Casey Wellman), had a gigantic need for skill and selected Mikael Granlund at ninth overall even though it was arguably passing over quality defensemen like Cam Fowler.

This summer, six forwards are turning pro -- Granlund, Charlie Coyle, Brett Bulmer, Johan Larsson, Jason Zucker and Zack Phillips. Only one defenseman is perhaps turning pro -- Jonas Brodin, and I say perhaps because if he doesn't make the team, the Wild will have to decide whether to assign him to Houston of the American Hockey League or return him to Farjestad of the Swedish Elite League for the year.

With so many forwards and so few defensemen, one would assume the Wild will be drafting a defenseman, especially with so many highly-rated ones near the top of this year's draft (Moose Jaw's Morgan Reilly, Ottawa's Cody Ceci, London's Olli Maatta, USA Under-18's Jacob Trouba, Edmonton's Griffin Reinhart and Red Deer's Mathew Dumba, to name a few).

But Flahr says that's not necessarily case. The scouts have arranged a draft order, feel strongly about that order and will go by their list. So if the next player on their list happens to be a forward when it chooses at 7, it'll take that forward.

Our draft coverage should begin in Monday's paper, and I'll talk a lot next week about the potential of trades -- or lack thereof, when it comes to the Wild. Fletcher loves making draft-day deals. In fact, he's made five in three years as the Wild GM. But don't expect another Brent Burns for Devin Setoguchi, Charlie Coyle and first-round pick (Zach Phillips) move at this year's draft. I'll explain why next week, although it's fairly obvious. There's no bargaining chip like a Brent Burns and the Wild's not looking to blow a hole through a prospect group it worked so hard and suffered through so much pain to accumulate.

As for other news, no new news: Josh Harding has to decide if he wants to re-sign here or test free agency, Guillaume Latendresse will fly to Minnesota next week to be seen by team doctors and the Wild has to tender qualifying offers by June 25. Of the NHLers, Justin Falk should definitely receive one. I do wonder about Nick Johnson though. He'd probably win a one-way deal in arbitration and the Wild doesn't want to block out all their kids from having a shot to make the team. There's a lot of forwards under contract now, and Johnson had a very tough second half. So we will find out soon.

As for Latendresse, as I've reported -- doubtful he gets a $2.5 million qualifying offer. If the team decides to offer him a deal, it will be a one-year, bonus-laden contract with a lower base salary.

The NHL schedule for next season is expected to be released next week, maybe Wednesday. Of course, that schedule is dependent on the season starting on time.

Similarly, the exhibition schedule should be released Monday. I'm hearing there's a home-and-home with Winnipeg, St. Louis and Dallas, although the Dallas road game will be in Boise, Idaho (I've never been to Idaho!!!). The Wild will also play in Calgary, then likely have a mini-training camp/bonding trip to Banff (in lieu of last year's trip to Duluth).

The regular season is scheduled to open at home Oct. 13. Again, all this is barring a new collective bargaining agreement being in place by Sept. 15.

OK, that's it for me. This was actually take 2 on this blog, so sorry for the delay in posting. The first one disappeared into oblivion. Again, tons of draft coverage will appear in the newspaper next week, so stay tuned.


Atlanta 6 FINAL
Detroit 4
Philadelphia 3 FINAL
Houston 6
St. Louis 4 FINAL
Miami 1
Baltimore 3 FINAL
Tampa Bay 2
NY Yankees 2 FINAL
Pittsburgh 1
Chicago Cubs 6 FINAL
San Francisco 8
Los Angeles 6 FINAL
Chicago WSox 1
San Diego 4 FINAL
Seattle 9
Cleveland 9 FINAL
Cincinnati 3
Milwaukee 2 FINAL
LA Angels 3
Oakland 2 FINAL
Chicago Cubs 2
Texas 4 FINAL
Kansas City 5
Colorado 3 FINAL
Arizona 4
Washington 5
Boston 8 FINAL
Minnesota 9
Toronto 0 FINAL
Baltimore 5
Oklahoma City 105 FINAL
Chicago 108
Dallas 75 FINAL
Portland 94
Calgary 4 FINAL(SO)
Boston 3
St. Louis 1 FINAL
Philadelphia 3
Minnesota 2 FINAL
Washington 1
Toronto 2 FINAL
Tampa Bay 4
Dallas 4 FINAL(SO)
Florida 3
NY Islanders 4 FINAL
Nashville 3
Vancouver 2 FINAL(SO)
Arizona 3
Montreal 3 FINAL(SO)
Los Angeles 4
Morgan State 76 FINAL
MD-Eastern Shore 89
Niagara 54 FINAL
Siena 71
Holy Cross 83 FINAL
Bucknell 90
Western Ky 88 FINAL
Charlotte 84
Navy 62 FINAL
Colgate 72
Temple 70 FINAL
East Carolina 56
Fla Atlantic 62
Boston Univ 64 FINAL
Lafayette 89
American Univ 68 FINAL
Lehigh 62
Wisconsin 76 FINAL
Minnesota 63
Fairfield 33 FINAL
Saint Peters 63
Arkansas 78 FINAL
South Carolina 74
Morehead State 76 FINAL
UT Martin 65
USC Upstate 63 FINAL
Fla Gulf Coast 62
Lipscomb 57 FINAL
North Florida 71
Southern Ill 55 FINAL
Missouri State 48
Texas State 64 FINAL
Appalachian St 67
SC State 62 FINAL
Bethune-Cookman 72
Delaware State 104 FINAL
Coppin State 92
Middle Tennessee 54 FINAL
FIU 59
Texas-Arlington 64 FINAL
Ga Southern 76
Norfolk State 80 FINAL
Hampton 69
NC Central 69
Savannah State 57 FINAL
Florida A&M 64
Southern Miss 61 FINAL
Louisiana Tech 72
Marshall 50 FINAL
Old Dominion 67
Rice 76 FINAL
TX-San Antonio 74
South Alabama 81 FINAL
Arkansas State 76
Alabama State 78 FINAL
Grambling St 46
Alabama A&M 54 FINAL
Jackson State 72
Sam Houston St 67 FINAL
Lamar 61
Georgia State 58 FINAL
ULM 50
Central Arkansas 70 FINAL
Nicholls 77
Portland State 51 FINAL
Northern Ariz 58
Southern U 77 FINAL
Prairie View 73
Alcorn State 73 FINAL
Texas Southern 94
Houston Baptist 72 FINAL
TX A&M-CC 85
Ark-Little Rock 69 FINAL
Louisiana 75
SE Louisiana 79 FINAL
New Orleans 85
California 60 FINAL
Arizona 99
Memphis 54 FINAL
Connecticut 53
VA Commonwealth 55 FINAL
Davidson 82
Ark-Pine Bluff 0 Postponed
Miss Valley St 0
Sacramento St 65 FINAL
Southern Utah 69
Northwestern St 66 FINAL
Stephen F Austin 92
North Texas 60 FINAL
Texas-El Paso 83
Colorado 64 FINAL
Washington 47
Idaho 63 FINAL
Weber State 74
Abilene Christian 52 FINAL
Incarnate Word 64
Eastern Wash 85 FINAL
Idaho State 81
Marist 80 FINAL
Quinnipiac 74
Eastern Ill 64 FINAL
Belmont 97
Bradley 52 FINAL
Drake 50
Cal State Fullerton 62 FINAL
UC Irvine 68
CS-Northridge 58 FINAL
Long Beach State 69
UC Riverside 59 FINAL
UC Davis 61
Stanford 62 FINAL
Arizona State 67
Utah 67 FINAL
Washington St 59
Monmouth 68 FINAL
Canisius 56
Wake Forest 85 FINAL
(22) Syracuse 79
Saint Louis 65 FINAL
VA Commonwealth 58
Saint Peters 62 FINAL
Rider 54
UNC-Asheville 51 FINAL
Liberty 59
UNC Greensboro 44 FINAL
(17) Chattanooga 78
Michigan State 69 FINAL
Michigan 49
Arkansas 72 FINAL
Ole Miss 61
Manhattan 51 FINAL
Niagara 57
Massachusetts 63 FINAL
Richmond 67
Virginia 52 FINAL
Miami-Florida 62
Jacksonville St 45 FINAL
Belmont 55
Morgan State 65 FINAL
MD-Eastern Shore 50
Campbell 65 FINAL
Winthrop 52
Furman 65 FINAL
Samford 54
Oregon 64 FINAL
Washington St 66
Indiana 52 FINAL
(23) Rutgers 63
Pepperdine 67 FINAL
Loyola Marymount 68
Auburn 47 FINAL
(18) Texas A&M 57
Morehead St 66 FINAL
Tennessee St 81
George Mason 43 FINAL
Saint Josephs 71
Western Carolina 53 FINAL
East Tenn St 73
Arizona 62 FINAL
Middle Tennessee 79
Texas State 55 FINAL
Appalachian St 61
TX-Arlington 66 FINAL
Georgia Southern 41
SC State 57 FINAL
Bethune-Cookman 56
Delaware State 51 FINAL
Coppin State 80
Portland 58 FINAL
Santa Clara 66
Norfolk State 49 FINAL
Hampton 64
Florida Atlantic 56 FINAL
UAB 59
NC Central 46
Savannah State 72 FINAL
Florida A&M 51
Virginia Tech 51 FINAL
Pittsburgh 45
Central Arkansas 43 FINAL
Nicholls 53
Houston Baptist 48 FINAL
TX A&M-CC 73
Gardner-Webb 70 FINAL
Radford 56
Georgia 75 FINAL
Missouri 64
Old Dominion 67 FINAL
Marshall 55
Ark-Little Rock 68 FINAL
Louisiana 66
South Alabama 60 FINAL
Arkansas State 70
Georgia State 66 FINAL
ULM 61
Sam Houston St 73 FINAL
Lamar 92
SE Louisiana 75 FINAL
New Orleans 84
Northwestern St 45 FINAL
Stephen F Austin 56
Alabama A&M 58 FINAL
Jackson State 66
Alabama State 68 FINAL
Grambling 62
Southern U 78 FINAL
Prairie View 50
Alcorn State 55 FINAL
Texas Southern 73
Ark-Pine Bluff 0 Postponed
Miss Valley St 0
Wofford 54 FINAL
Mercer 75
Abilene Christian 72 FINAL
Incarnate Word 62
La Salle 60 FINAL
Rhode Island 65
Illinois 71 FINAL
Nebraska 86
TX-San Antonio 60 FINAL
Rice 49
Valparaiso 55 FINAL
Oakland 70
Missouri State 65 FINAL
Indiana State 56
Georgia Tech 64 FINAL
(15) North Carolina 84
Charlotte 72 FINAL
Western Ky 80
Texas-El Paso 69 FINAL
North Texas 61
Wichita State 77 FINAL
Evansville 63
Loyola-Chicago 64 FINAL
Northern Iowa 69
Bradley 70 FINAL
Drake 86
Presbyterian 62 FINAL
High Point 75
Vanderbilt 61 FINAL
(12) Kentucky 67
Colorado 75 FINAL
USC 63
San Francisco 74 FINAL
Pacific 64
Idaho State 58 FINAL
Eastern Washington 62
Weber State 42 FINAL
Idaho 71
Purdue 78 FINAL
Minnesota 82
Cal-Irvine 54 FINAL
Cal State Fullerton 66
Long Beach St 60 FINAL
CS-Northridge 77
Hawaii 60 FINAL
UC Santa Barbara 36
UC Davis 56 FINAL
UC-Riverside 61
Northern Ariz 79 FINAL
Portland State 62
Southern Utah 73 FINAL
Sacramento St 107
Utah 64 FINAL
Washington 75
St Marys-CA 64
Connect with twitterConnect with facebookConnect with Google+Connect with PinterestConnect with PinterestConnect with RssfeedConnect with email newsletters





question of the day

Poll: Who is doing the best job coaching a Minnesota pro sports team?

Weekly Question