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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Wild trades Justin Falk to the Rangers; Wild needs defensemen

Posted by: Michael Russo under Vikings draft, Wild off-season news, Wild trade news Updated: June 30, 2013 - 12:45 PM

On a day where there is expected to be a flurry of activity, the Wild started things off  with a minor move -- dealing defenseman Justin Falk to the New York Rangers for a 2014 sixth-round pick and the rights to pesky right wing Benn Ferriero.

The Rangers had to trade an expiring contract, so we will see what the future holds for Ferriero. The Wild could be just doing the Rangers a favor.

Ferriero, a decent depth player the past few years for the Rangers and Sharks, is a restricted free agent. The Wild hasn't talked to his representatives, so we'll see if he ends up being a depth player for the Wild.

Ferriero, 26, has one assist in four games for the Rangers last year. He had 30 points in 57 games for AHL Connecticut and Wilkes-Barre.

In 96 career games for San Jose and the Rangers, Ferriero has scored 14 goals and 23 points. Two of those goals have come against Minnesota.

Falk was a restricted free agent that the Wild had yet to tender a qualifying offer. But he's an NHL defenseman, so the Wild knew it could at least get a pick for him. This also gives Falk new scenery and a chance to become an everyday player.

The 6-foot-5 2007 fourth-rounder had 15 points in 108 games for the Wild. He was in and out of the lineup this past season and Falk said his agent and the Wild kept him up to date the last few days that a trade may be on the horizon.

“I’m excited about the new opportunity here,” Falk said. “It’s a new chapter that I’m looking forward to. I’m thankful of the opportunity Minnesota gave me to get into the league. This is a new opportunity to continue to develop. That’s my main concern. I felt I didn’t quite develop the way that I would have liked this last year. I want to continue to build my career, and this is a new start in New York.”

The Wild's blue line now looks like this:

Ryan Suter-Jonas Brodin

Marco Scandella-Jared Spurgeon (unsigned)

Clayton Stoner-Tom Gilbert

Nate Prosser

Scandella spent most of last season in the minors. Gilbert may be traded or bought out. Prosser couldn't get much playing time.

So one thing we know: The Wild will be in the market for a defenseman or two this summer.

I've been reporting that the asking price for Cal Clutterbuck today has been a second and a prospect. I hear one concept the Wild has explored the past few days is getting a defenseman back in a trade for Clutterbuck.

One team that has shown a lot of interest the past few days is Pittsburgh. The Wild has had interest in the past in Simon Despres, but the one guy I keep hearing is Virginia, Minn., native Matt Niskanan.

The draft starts at 2. As of now, the Wild has eight picks -- the first coming at No. 46. The Wild continues to try to trade into the first round.

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