Russo's NHL insider: A final reader Q&A

  • Updated: April 20, 2013 - 4:48 PM

As this catch-your-breath, shortened season heads into its last week, here is the final Russo’s Rants/Facebook Wild Q&A:

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The Wild’s Jason Zucker, left, San Jose’s Adam Burish and Matt Cullen battled for the puck. Cullen’s return — one of the questions below — for next season is uncertain.

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Reid Peterson: Which teams do you feel would be the best/worst matchups for the Wild if it makes the playoffs?

A: The Wild is 0-6 since March 30 against San Jose, St. Louis, Los Angeles and Chicago, being outscored 20-4. The common denominator with the first three teams is size. They’re all much bigger than the Wild; the Blackhawks come at you in waves. As for the best, Anaheim is showing signs of cracking lately and the Wild outplayed the Ducks in the final two meetings. The Wild matches up with Vancouver quite well. The Wild could beat Detroit, Columbus or Dallas.

Dan Shrader: Will we see upgrades in the 4-7 D in the offseason?

A: It will be interesting to see the decision-making. Ryan Suter, Jonas Brodin, Clayton Stoner, Tom Gilbert and Nate Prosser are under contract. Jared Spurgeon is a restricted free agent who will get a raise. Justin Falk is also restricted. And Marco Scandella should make the team because he would require waivers to get to AHL Iowa. He has had an injury-filled, inconsistent season and the hope is he gets his game in order for a possible playoff callup. To upgrade, though, there would need to be trades.

John Hedges: When will Coyle be allowed to change his number from 63 to 3?

A: Next season, although Coyle said the other day he is considering keeping 63.

James Hammond: Is Matt Dumba going to play for the Wild next season?

A: Depends entirely on his training camp and how many defensemen are in his way. At 19, since he wouldn’t be allowed to play in Iowa, he would have to really show the brass he warrants a spot.

Jimmyreber: Other than the obvious, who makes the playoff roster?

A: Everybody. The Wild can also have up to three Houston players at a time and interchange them at will. Once Houston is eliminated, everybody can come up.

Duluthfan: How important is it for Minnesota to re-sign Matt Cullen?

A: He is invaluable on and off the ice, and that was proven during his six missed games with a recent injury. The problem is he turns 37 in November. This could be his last contract. If he wants another three-year deal and a raise on his annual $3.5 million, the Wild may have no choice but to let him look elsewhere.

dmp0702: Does Dany Heatley’s injury status affect whether the Wild can use an amnesty buyout?

A: Very unclear right now. You cannot buy out an injured player, so if the Wild wants to go this route and buy out his remaining $5 million salary for two-thirds and rid itself of next year’s $7.5 million cap hit, Heatley would technically need to be medically cleared to play. This will be a big issue this offseason. With the salary cap dropping to $64.3 million next season, if you do the math, buying out Heatley makes sense.

wildfan2130: Will the Wild extend Jason Pominville’s contract this summer?

A: First priority will be to talk to Cullen and free agent Niklas Backstrom. With the uncertainty surrounding Josh Harding’s multiple sclerosis and the fact Darcy Kuemper is inexperienced, the Wild will need a No. 1. There are slim pickings beyond Backstrom on the open market. Next, it will have to see how much it can re-sign Spurgeon and/or Cullen for. Then, it will have to see what happens with Heatley’s contract situation. Then, it will have to look at free agency. After the Wild figures out all of that, it will sit down with Pominville probably later in the summer to see what it would take to extend his contract before his unrestricted year.

Joelbert: Of the pending restricted free agents, who might not be back?

A: I could see the Wild shopping Cal Clutterbuck this summer.

 

RUSSO’S SHORT TAKES
 
The lowest of Lowe

Oilers President Kevin Lowe’s news conference in Edmonton to announce Craig MacTavish’s promotion to general manager and Steve Tambellini’s firing could have been the biggest PR disaster in Alberta’s capital since the trade of Wayne Gretzky.

In one of the most ill-advised statements ever uttered by team management, Lowe, while getting heavily questioned by Edmonton Journal columnist John MacKinnon, fired back, “We have two types of fans: We have paying customers and we have people that watch the game that we still care about. But certainly the people that go to the games and support, we spend a lot of time talking to them, delivering our message.”

Essentially, Lowe said if you don’t come to games, you don’t matter. Fans flipped, forcing him to put up an awkward video apology two days later.

“If I offended anyone, I apologize,” Lowe said from behind his desk.

He also said at the presser that “I think it’s safe to say half the general managers in the National Hockey League would trade their roster for our roster right now.”

Bizarre statement when you just fired the GM that allegedly put that underperforming roster together.

Ruff: ‘It’s a lonely feeling’

One of the biggest free agents this summer could be former Buffalo Sabres coach Lindy Ruff. Every team with a vacancy will look at him. He will coach Canada at the World Championships.
 
“There’s days you feel lost,” Ruff said of not coaching since being fired. “It’s a lonely feeling.”

Holding out for 2015 Winter Classic

Much has been made that the Wild isn’t scheduled to host any of the five additional outdoor games the league plans to put on next season. This actually is a good thing.

The Wild wants the 2015 Winter Classic — the actual Winter Classic — and this could be an indicator that it has a good chance.
 
WILD’S WEEK AHEAD
 
Sunday: vs. Calgary, 5 p.m. (FSN)
Tuesday: vs. Los Angeles, 7 p.m. (FSN)
Friday: vs. Edmonton, 7 p.m. (FSN+)
Saturday: at Colorado, 6:30 p.m. (FSN)

Player to watch:
Jeff Carter, Los Angeles

Strange season for the Los Angeles Kings sniper. Ranks fourth in the NHL and first in the West with 24 goals but is tied for 384th in the NHL with five assists.

VOICES

« We didn’t deserve anything today. Not even a power play. »
— Wild goalie Niklas Backstrom after a 6-1 loss at San Jose on Thursday when the Wild didn’t earn a power play.
 

 

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Minnesota 17 4th Qtr 14:57
Miami 21
Baltimore 7 3rd Qtr 9:15
Houston 16
Detroit 10 4th Qtr 11:09
Chicago 14
Cleveland 6 4th Qtr 12:45
Carolina 10
Atlanta 20 4th Qtr 14:30
New Orleans 7
Green Bay 13 4th Qtr 5:45
Tampa Bay 3
Kansas City 6 4th Qtr 12:00
Pittsburgh 17
New England 17 4th Qtr 9:37
NY Jets 13
NY Giants 3:05 PM
St. Louis
Buffalo 3:25 PM
Oakland
Indianapolis 3:25 PM
Dallas
Seattle 7:30 PM
Arizona
Denver 12/22/14 7:30 PM
Cincinnati
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Toronto
Memphis 3:30 PM
Cleveland
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Miami
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LA Lakers 5:00 PM
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Washington
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Minnesota
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Detroit
Dallas 5:00 PM
Edmonton
Buffalo 6:00 PM
Boston
Carolina 6:00 PM
NY Rangers
Toronto 6:00 PM
Chicago
Philadelphia 8:00 PM
Winnipeg
Harvard 27 FINAL
Virginia 76
Maine 69 1st OT 0:04
Army 70
Ferris State 82 FINAL
Bowling Green 68
San Francisco 65 FINAL
Cleveland State 69
Oregon State 52 FINAL
Quinnipiac 60
Coastal Carolina 72 FINAL
Central Arkansas 55
Holy Cross 32 2nd Half 9:42
Canisius 46
Southern Miss 35 2nd Half 9:28
Georgia State 54
Western Carolina 39 2nd Half 12:29
UNC-Asheville 54
Creighton 29 2nd Half 12:36
North Texas 51
Maryland 51 2nd Half 11:49
Oklahoma State 37
Cornell 41 2nd Half 13:34
Radford 50
Vermont 36 2nd Half 9:40
Saint Louis 38
Loyola-Maryland 39 2nd Half 10:23
Stony Brook 44
Reinhardt 48 2nd Half 13:16
Winthrop 62
Ark-Little Rock 43 2nd Half 7:47
Green Bay 53
TX-Pan American 44 2nd Half 13:40
Nebraska Omaha 53
Alabama State 57 2nd Half 14:55
Evansville 53
FIU 31 2nd Half 20:00
Hartford 42
Goshen 25 2nd Half
Valparaiso 38
Bryant 7 1st Half 10:46
Denver 4
Austin Peay 5 1st Half 10:19
Lipscomb 18
Tennessee St 5 1st Half 12:10
Middle Tennessee 24
South Dakota 15 1st Half 11:43
Montana 14
ULM 2:25 PM
Samford
Coker 2:30 PM
South Carolina
USC 3:00 PM
Boston College
Northern Ariz 3:00 PM
Hampton
SD Christian 3:00 PM
San Diego
UC Irvine 3:30 PM
Bradley
Troy 3:30 PM
Nicholls
Seton Hall 5:00 PM
Georgia
Appalachian St 5:30 PM
Alabama
North Dakota St 6:00 PM
Kent State
San Jose St 6:00 PM
Washington St
Alcorn State 8:00 PM
Texas-El Paso
Sacramento St 9:00 PM
Seattle
Nevada 3 FINAL
Louisiana 16
Utah State 21 FINAL
Texas-El Paso 6
(23) Utah 45 FINAL
Colorado State 10
Western Mich 24 FINAL
Air Force 38
South Alabama 28 FINAL
Bowling Green 33
BYU 12/22/14 1:00 PM
Memphis
Marshall 12/23/14 5:00 PM
Northern Ill
Navy 12/23/14 8:30 PM
San Diego St
Central Mich 12/24/14 11:00 AM
Western Ky
Fresno State 12/24/14 7:00 PM
Rice
Illinois 12/26/14 12:00 PM
Louisiana Tech
Rutgers 12/26/14 3:30 PM
North Carolina
NC State 12/26/14 7:00 PM
UCF
Cincinnati 12/27/14 12:00 PM
Virginia Tech
Duke 12/27/14 1:10 PM
(15) Arizona State
Miami-Florida 12/27/14 3:00 PM
So Carolina
Boston College 12/27/14 3:30 PM
Penn State
(25) Nebraska 12/27/14 7:00 PM
(24) USC
Cal-Irvine 55 FINAL
Denver 63
St Marys-CA 52 FINAL
George Washington 70
TX-San Antonio 49 FINAL
Nicholls 57
Portland State 71 FINAL
Columbia 66
Tenn Tech 62 FINAL
Morgan State 56
SMU 43 FINAL
Auburn 56
Quinnipiac 70 FINAL
Hartford 58
Hofstra 75 FINAL
Boston College 61
Eastern Washington 55 FINAL
Georgia Southern 42
Liberty 44 FINAL
(1) South Carolina 84
Fairleigh Dickinson 74 FINAL
Brown 79
Buffalo 73 FINAL
Long Island 79
Bucknell 74 FINAL
Mount St Marys 49
Stony Brook 70 FINAL
Wagner 76
FIU 83 FINAL
Wofford 75
Duquesne 56 FINAL
Providence 67
Maine 54 FINAL
William & Mary 51
Alabama State 43 FINAL
Samford 56
TX-Pan American 43 FINAL
VA Commonwealth 64
South Dakota St 64 FINAL
Marist 82
Saint Josephs 50 FINAL
(5) Notre Dame 64
Radford 60 FINAL
Virginia Tech 73
(3) Texas 60 2nd Half 4:14
(4) Texas A&M 61
Rhode Island 60 2nd Half 0:10
Bryant 56
South Florida 45 2nd Half 15:51
Penn State 43
Sam Houston St 35 2nd Half 11:35
TCU 55
Evansville 36 2nd Half 12:00
IUPUI 44
(14) Maryland 83 2nd Half 10:38
Coppin State 41
Mercer 48 2nd Half 9:49
Coll of Charleston 56
NC A&T 21 2nd Half 15:34
Chattanooga 40
Princeton 69 2nd Half 10:24
Monmouth 38
Eastern Illinois 58 2nd Half 6:14
Lehigh 62
Rider 49 2nd Half 11:15
Binghamton 41
SC State 38 2nd Half 8:36
Clemson 43
Fairfield 44 2nd Half 10:00
Iowa State 55
Richmond 61 2nd Half 7:34
Eastern Kentucky 40
Cleveland State 63 2nd Half 6:25
Morehead St 63
Kent State 49 2nd Half 10:44
Colgate 37
South Alabama 31 2nd Half 6:09
UAB 66
Saint Peters 28 2nd Half 8:18
Navy 61
Youngstown St 37 2nd Half 7:47
Pittsburgh 58
NJIT 30 2nd Half 14:36
Lafayette 43
Davidson 22 2nd Half 11:59
Charlotte 61
Indiana State 28 1st Half 1:51
St Johns 22
Southern U 16 1st Half 1:22
Florida 38
Wright State 16 2nd Half
Purdue 31
(19) Oklahoma St 9 1st Half 11:34
USC 13
Houston 12 1st Half 8:32
Texas Tech 10
Ark-Little Rock 13 1st Half 11:10
Tulsa 8
Dayton 14 1st Half 9:51
Vanderbilt 14
Northern Ariz 9 1st Half 13:20
New Mexico 6
UNC-Asheville 10 1st Half 12:12
USC Upstate 10
North Dakota 12 1st Half 11:40
South Dakota 17
Western Ill 11 1st Half 14:02
Marquette 8
Elon 10 1st Half 15:00
(6) North Carolina 13
Ball State 7 1st Half 11:38
Western Ky 22
(8) Kentucky 8 1st Half 11:06
(13) Duke 17
New Orleans 6 1st Half 11:29
Alabama 21
Chicago State 11 1st Half 9:54
Milwaukee 16
Bowling Green 18 1st Half 11:48
Bradley 7
Ill-Springfield 2 1st Half 18:28
SE Missouri St 2
Northern Ill 6 1st Half 11:30
Northern Iowa 9
(23) Iowa 13 1st Half 13:52
Drake 14
Central Michigan 2:30 PM
Minnesota
Western Carolina 2:30 PM
North Florida
Wyoming 3:00 PM
Colorado
Portland 3:00 PM
Boise State
Cal Poly 3:00 PM
Colorado State
No Dakota State 3:00 PM
Grand Canyon
Albany 3:00 PM
Cal State Fullerton
Oklahoma 3:00 PM
Arkansas
Idaho State 3:00 PM
Seattle
(18) Michigan State 3:00 PM
(19) Syracuse
Northwestern 3:30 PM
Arizona State
TX-Arlington 3:30 PM
North Texas
Fresno State 4:00 PM
Oregon
St Francis-PA 4:00 PM
Coastal Carolina
UNLV 4:00 PM
CS-Bakersfield
UCLA 4:00 PM
(2) Connecticut
(10) Louisville 4:00 PM
(24) California
Howard 5:00 PM
Virginia
Miami-Ohio 6:00 PM
(21) Miss State
Illinois-Chicago 8:30 PM
Old Dominion
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