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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Houston Aeros hit the ice at Xcel; open scrimmages this weekend

Posted by: Michael Russo under Rookies, Wild off-season news Updated: September 28, 2012 - 9:45 AM

The Houston Aeros, coached by longtime minor-league and NHL coach John Torchetti and a staff of former Panthers blue-line great Mike Van Ryn and Sebastien LaPlante, take the ice this morning at Xcel Energy Center for the first three days of training camp here in Minnesota.

The Aeros, filled to the brim with the Wild's most elite prospects, will scrimmage Saturday at 11 a.m. and Sunday at 10 a.m. at the X. Both scrimmages are free and open to the public, with Gate 1 opening 30 minutes before the scrimmages.

Then after Sunday's scrimmage, the Aeros will caravan down to Houston over a day-and-a-half before continuing camp there.

So if you want your hockey fix, this weekend is good. The Aeros will also play a game at the X against Rockford at 5 p.m. on Nov. 18. Those tickets are free for season-ticket holders and $20 for others.

Also, as I mentioned on yesterday's blog, save Oct. 28 in your calendar (barring the end of the NHL lockout). It's looking very good that many of the locked-out NHLers based here and some others even from outside the area will put on a charity game at Mariucci Arena to benefit Defending the Blue Line. More information should come out today and probably Monday.

Speaking of the lockout, for the first time since Sept. 12, the NHL and NHLPA are meeting in New York about non-core issues. It's the first of three days of scheduled meetings, and hopefully some real ground is made so they continue talking about the real stuff that could end this lockout next week. Today, they'll meet from 10-12 and then again after 4 p.m. ET.

I wrote about the Aeros in today's paper. Here is that link. It'll be an interesting year in Houston, where the Aeros get a huge infusion of skill with the additions of Mikael Granlund, Charlie Coyle, Johan Larsson, Jonas Brodin, Jason Zucker, Zack Phillips, and for a full year, Brett Bulmer.

The reality is this means a number of Houston's top players last year fall down a few slots on this much deeper team. That could include anybody from David McIntyre and Justin Fontaine to Chad Rau, Jarod Palmer and Carson McMillan.

It'll certainly be a fun year to watch the Aeros and some of these top prospects to begin the maturation process. As Torchetti says in the article, it won't all be smooth sailing. Many of the rookies aren't used to three games in three nights or 76-game season, so this will be a good adjustment year for all of them to hopefully soon make a smooth transition to the Wild's lineup.

Below is the Houston roster. You'll notice Nick Palmieri isn't on it yet. The unsigned Wild player is talking to the team about signing an AHL deal, but that contract wasn't signed by the start of camp. But it still looks like he'll be on an AHL deal and will join the Aeros when camp begins in Houston.

And, finally:

Houston Aeros General Manager Jim Mill announced on Friday the Training Camp roster for the 2012-13 season.

The training camp roster is composed of four goalies, 13 defensemen and 20 forwards. In all, 14 Minnesota Wild draft picks are on the roster, including four first-round picks and five second-round picks.

The roster consists of the following players:

Forwards: Joel Broda, Brett Bulmer, Josh Caron, Charlie Coyle, Kris Foucault, Justin Fontaine, Ryan Ginand, Mikael Granlund, Ryley Grantham, Eric Lampe, Johan Larsson, David McIntyre, Carson McMillan, Rob Mignardi, Jarod Palmer, Nick Petersen, Zack Phillips, Chad Rau, Brennan Vargas, Jason Zucker.

Defense: Drew Bagnall, Corbin Baldwin, Jonas Brodin, Brian Connelly, Tyler Cuma, Kris Fredheim, Chay Genoway, Colton Jobke, Steven Kampfer, Sean Lorenz, Kyle Medvec, Mike Montgomery, Marco Scandella.

Goalies: Mike Brodeur, John Curry, Matt Hackett, Darcy Kuemper

Talk later.

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