If you can't talk Wild, you can at least talk Aeros

  • Article by: MICHAEL RUSSO , Star Tribune
  • Updated: September 27, 2012 - 10:20 PM

The minor league club will begin its training camp this weekend in St. Paul with plenty of recognizable names.

hide

Chad Rau chases the puck for the Aeros.

Photo: Richard Tsong-Taatarii, Star Tribune file

CameraStar Tribune photo galleries

Cameraview larger

The Wild may be in lockout mode, but the Houston Aeros, Minnesota's chief minor league affiliate, may be one of the most exciting teams in a super-stacked American Hockey League.

The Wild's top prospects, including Mikael Granlund, Charlie Coyle and Jonas Brodin, should provide bored, frustrated, hockey-craving Wild fans with plenty of reason to pay attention to the Aeros.

All this makes Aeros veteran coach John Torchetti arguably the most important person in Wild organization right now.

"For once," joked Torchetti, a former Stanley Cup-winning assistant with the Chicago Blackhawks and head coach with the Florida Panthers and Los Angeles Kings. "Seriously, I just want to teach them what I've got and have them ready for Yeozie [Wild coach Mike Yeo]."

Training camp begins Friday with three days at Xcel Energy Center.

No one knows when is the next time the ice will be down at the X, so if you want to see Johan Larsson, Jason Zucker, Brett Bulmer, Zack Phillips, Matt Hackett and others, Torchetti said, "this is a great weekend to get your hockey fix. This is the future Wild."

Torchetti can't wait to get going. The Aeros are getting such an infusion of skill, Torchetti said, "our top line last year [David McIntyre, Joel Broda and Justin Fontaine] could be our fourth line this year."

"We have skill upon skill now. We weren't blessed with that last year."

Torchetti has no set line combinations yet, other than Granlund, Larsson and Phillips will be the top three centers.

"I just want to see them mesh," Torchetti said. "We'll see the skill [players] with the skill, but they may mix and match. We might see Granlund with Zucker and Coyle, but we may see Larsson with one of those guys."

The Wild possesses one of the highly touted prospect pools in the NHL, so many critics are predicting the Aeros to cruise. However, it won't be that easy.

First, there will surely be growing pains for the first-time pros. It doesn't matter how good you are, experiencing a 76-game season or three games in three nights is an adjustment.

"If you've come out of college playing 35 games a year, three-in-threes are tough games to play," Torchetti said. "You feel good, but your legs aren't moving."

Second, because of the NHL lockout, most AHL teams are bustling with prospects, with several teams even sending down young NHL stars.

The AHL will feature Carolina's Jeff Skinner, Edmonton's Jordan Eberle and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, New Jersey's Adam Larsson and Adam Henrique, Anaheim's Cam Fowler, Philadelphia's Sean Couturier and Brayden Schenn and the Wild's Marco Scandella.

In the 2004-05 lockout, such future top NHLers as Jason Spezza, Eric Staal, Cam Ward, Michael Cammelleri, Dustin Brown, Patrice Bergeron and Nathan Horton were in the AHL and the Philadelphia Phantoms, including Mike Richards and Jeff Carter, won the Calder Cup against the Chicago Wolves, including Stephen Weiss and Jay Bouwmeester.

"There will be 30 great teams," said Minnesotan Alex Stalock, the San Jose Sharks goalie who plays for Worcester. "Normally, you may play a great team, but they could be short two or three players because they're up in the NHL.

"This year, because of the lockout, there will be no nights off. It's going to be an incredible league, an incredible challenge."

Perhaps one silver lining of the NHL lockout is the Wild's prospects will get to grow together in the minors. If the lockout ends, there likely wouldn't be exhibition games before the start of the season, so Torchetti is looking to accelerate the learning curve.

"We've got to have guys ready to make a smooth transition from the American League to National League so they're effective for the Wild. I want to make sure they're prepped," Torchetti said. "I can't wait to see the learning curve. Some you see in a week or two, they get it. Others, it takes a month, it might be two. But trust me, they'll be learning."

Lockout update

With the absence of a collective bargaining agreement, the NHL canceled the rest of the preseason Thursday -- now putting the start of the regular season on Oct. 11 in jeopardy.

The good news is the NHL and NHLPA have scheduled three days of meetings beginning Friday -- the first negotiation since Sept. 12. Wild forward Zach Parise said if talks go nowhere, he may choose to take a job in Switzerland for the rest of the lockout.

  • related content

  • Chart: Aeros hockey at the X

    Thursday September 27, 2012

    AEROS HOCKEY AT THE XWhat: Opening of Houston Aeros training camp.When: Friday-Sunday, Xcel Energy Center.Scrimmages: Saturday at 11 a.m., Sunday...

  • get related content delivered to your inbox

  • manage my email subscriptions

ADVERTISEMENT

Boston - LP: A. Ranaudo 0 FINAL
Pittsburgh - WP: C. Morton 4
Toronto - LP: D. Hutchison 2 FINAL
Baltimore - WP: U. Jimenez 8
Washington - WP: T. Roark 3 FINAL
Atlanta - LP: A. Harang 0
Miami - LP: N. Eovaldi 1 FINAL
NY Mets - WP: B. Colon 9
NY Yankees - LP: M. Pineda 1 FINAL
Tampa Bay - WP: J. Odorizzi 6
Cincinnati - LP: J. Cueto 0 FINAL
Chicago Cubs - WP: J. Arrieta 7
Chicago WSox - WP: E. Surkamp 7 FINAL
Kansas City - LP: K. Herrera 5
Cleveland - WP: C. Kluber 4 FINAL
Houston - LP: N. Tropeano 2
Detroit - LP: J. Nathan 3 FINAL
Minnesota - WP: G. Perkins 4
Milwaukee - WP: B. Kintzler 3 FINAL
St. Louis - LP: K. Siegrist 2
Los Angeles - LP: D. Haren 4 FINAL
Colorado - WP: T. Matzek 10
San Francisco - WP: J. Peavy 2 FINAL
Arizona - LP: J. Collmenter 1
Seattle 11 Bottom 7th Inning
LA Angels 2
Texas 6 Bottom 8th Inning
Oakland 3
Philadelphia 3 Top 8th Inning
San Diego 5
Tampa Bay 9/18/14 7:25 PM
Atlanta
San Diego 9/21/14 12:00 PM
Buffalo
Dallas 9/21/14 12:00 PM
St. Louis
Washington 9/21/14 12:00 PM
Philadelphia
Houston 9/21/14 12:00 PM
NY Giants
Minnesota 9/21/14 12:00 PM
New Orleans
Tennessee 9/21/14 12:00 PM
Cincinnati
Baltimore 9/21/14 12:00 PM
Cleveland
Green Bay 9/21/14 12:00 PM
Detroit
Indianapolis 9/21/14 12:00 PM
Jacksonville
Oakland 9/21/14 12:00 PM
New England
San Francisco 9/21/14 3:05 PM
Arizona
Denver 9/21/14 3:25 PM
Seattle
Kansas City 9/21/14 3:25 PM
Miami
Pittsburgh 9/21/14 7:30 PM
Carolina
Chicago 9/22/14 7:30 PM
NY Jets
(5) Auburn 9/18/14 6:30 PM
(20) Kansas State
Connecticut 9/19/14 7:00 PM
So Florida
Old Dominion 9/20/14 11:00 AM
Rice
Troy 9/20/14 11:00 AM
(13) Georgia
Georgia Tech 9/20/14 11:00 AM
Virginia Tech
Eastern Mich 9/20/14 11:00 AM
(11) Michigan State
Iowa 9/20/14 11:00 AM
Pittsburgh
Bowling Green 9/20/14 11:00 AM
(19) Wisconsin
Maryland 9/20/14 11:30 AM
Syracuse
Tulane 9/20/14 11:30 AM
Duke
Hawaii 9/20/14 1:00 PM
Colorado
Marshall 9/20/14 1:00 PM
Akron
North Carolina 9/20/14 2:30 PM
East Carolina
Army 9/20/14 2:30 PM
Wake Forest
Virginia 9/20/14 2:30 PM
(21) BYU
(6) Texas A&M 9/20/14 2:30 PM
SMU
Rutgers 9/20/14 2:30 PM
Navy
Central Mich 9/20/14 2:30 PM
Kansas
Utah 9/20/14 2:30 PM
Michigan
Florida 9/20/14 2:30 PM
(3) Alabama
Louisville 9/20/14 2:30 PM
FIU
Fla Atlantic 9/20/14 3:00 PM
Wyoming
Indiana 9/20/14 3:00 PM
(18) Missouri
San Jose St 9/20/14 3:00 PM
Minnesota
Texas State 9/20/14 3:00 PM
Illinois
Massachusetts 9/20/14 3:00 PM
Penn State
Georgia State 9/20/14 5:00 PM
Washington
Appalachian St 9/20/14 6:00 PM
Southern Miss
Miss State 9/20/14 6:00 PM
(8) LSU
Northern Ill 9/20/14 6:00 PM
Arkansas
Middle Tennessee 9/20/14 6:00 PM
Memphis
Utah State 9/20/14 6:00 PM
Arkansas State
Miami-Ohio 9/20/14 6:00 PM
Cincinnati
Idaho 9/20/14 6:00 PM
Ohio U
Ball State 9/20/14 6:00 PM
Toledo
(14) So Carolina 9/20/14 6:30 PM
Vanderbilt
(4) Oklahoma 9/20/14 6:30 PM
West Virginia
Ga Southern 9/20/14 6:30 PM
South Alabama
UNLV 9/20/14 7:00 PM
Houston
(22) Clemson 9/20/14 7:00 PM
(1) Florida State
Miami-Florida 9/20/14 7:00 PM
(24) Nebraska
New Mexico 9/20/14 7:00 PM
New Mexico St
California 9/20/14 9:00 PM
Arizona
Louisiana 9/20/14 9:30 PM
Boise State
(2) Oregon 9/20/14 9:30 PM
Washington St
San Diego St 9/20/14 9:30 PM
Oregon State
Toronto 9/19/14 9:00 PM
Brt Columbia
Edmonton 9/20/14 6:00 PM
Hamilton
Calgary 9/21/14 12:00 PM
Montreal
Ottawa 9/21/14 3:00 PM
Saskatchewan
Connect with twitterConnect with facebookConnect with Google+Connect with PinterestConnect with PinterestConnect with RssfeedConnect with email newsletters

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

question of the day

Poll: Which local pro team are you most excited about?

Weekly Question

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

 
Close