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.

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Fletcher talking trade; Wild announces 7-game exhibition schedule*

Posted by: Michael Russo under Vikings draft, Wild off-season news Updated: June 18, 2012 - 1:22 PM

Draft week is finally upon us with the first round Friday in Pittsburgh at 6 p.m. (NBC Sports Network) and the second through seventh rounds Saturday starting at 9 a.m. (NHL Network).

I'll be hosting a live chat on startribune.com Wednesday at 1 p.m. from Pittsburgh. I'll also be in studio at KFAN on Paul Allen's show Tuesday from 9:55-10:35 a.m.

The Wild chooses seventh -- barring a trade to move up or down. The top-rated Minnesotan is Lakeville's Brady Skjei, who has won back-to-back Under-18 world championships with the United States. The terrific-skating defenseman should be a mid- to late-round first-round pick Friday.

The soon-to-be Gopher also is one of seven Minnesotans that was selected to attend USA Hockey's evaluation camp in August for the next world junior championships this winter in Russia. Wild 2011 second-round pick and soon-to-be Notre Dame center Mario Lucia was also chosen to attend. The full list can be seen here.

South St. Paul's Phil Housley will coach the team.

If you didn't see, I talked to Wild GM Chuck Fletcher about trades in today's paper. That article can be found here.

Thirty-eight percent of Fletcher's 21 trades he has made as Wild GM has been made around the draft, the biggest coming last June at the St. Paul draft when he dealt Brent Burns and a second to San Jose for Devin Setoguchi, Charlie Coyle and a first (Zack Phillips).

While Fletcher has been having a lot of trade conversations lately, I just don't see how he executes anything remotely as thunderous as the Burns trade. He just doesn't have the pieces, the Wild would sooner go after Zach Parise for no assets (other than monetary) in free agency and Fletcher is not looking to trade the prospects teams would require for a big piece.

I can see some minor trades in the days leading up to the draft and at the draft, but I think the Wild mostly waits to make its noise (if it can) in free agency.

As the for the exhibition schedule, it's what I threw on the blog the other day. It comes with an unwritten asterisk though because this is all barring a new collective bargaining agreement being in place by Sept. 15. Otherwise, well, everything's up in the air.

If all's a go, the Wild is looking to spend a few days leading up to the Oct. 13 season opener in Banff for some bonding after the Calgary preseason finale. The regular-season schedule, with an asterisk, should be released in the next few days.

2012-13 MINNESOTA WILD PRESEASON SCHEDULE
DATE OPPONENT LOCATION TIME (CT)
Tuesday, Sept. 25 at Dallas Stars CenturyLink Arena (Boise, Idaho) 8:00 p.m.
Wednesday, Sept. 26 Dallas Stars Xcel Energy Center 7:00 p.m.
Thursday, Sept. 27 St. Louis Blues Xcel Energy Center 7:00 p.m.
Saturday, Sept. 29 at St. Louis Blues Scottrade Center 7:00 p.m.
Tuesday, Oct. 2 Winnipeg Jets Xcel Energy Center 7:00 p.m.
Thursday, Oct. 4 at Winnipeg Jets MTS Centre 7:00 p.m.
Saturday, Oct. 6 at Calgary Flames Scotiabank Saddledome 8:00 p.m.
 

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