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.

Also find Russo on Facebook.

Email Michael to talk about hockey.

#CullenWatch: Matt Cullen fielding calls from teams, hasn't ruled out Minnesota

Posted by: Michael Russo under Wild off-season news Updated: July 3, 2013 - 7:17 PM
One year ago today, I was just getting back from St. Paul’s regional airport, where I was hiding in the bushes along the fence watching Wild owner Craig Leipold, GM Chuck Fletcher and coach Mike Yeo get off a plane with Ryan Suter’s agent, Neil Sheehy, and financial guy, Tom Sagissor.
 
Hands were shaken, and Sheehy got back on that plane for a return trip to International Falls, where he does his summer free agency deals.
 
The next morning, KaBoom! – the July 4 fireworks were set off early when that morning Suter and Zach Parise signed on the dotted line as a Minnesota Wild tagteam.
 
This July 4, I’m not anticipating adding 10,000 or more followers to my Twitter account again.
 
1) Free agency doesn’t officially begin until Friday at 11 a.m. and 2) Even with the $4 million that will be added by Thursday’s compliance buyout of Tom Gilbert, the Wild’s not going to be in the running for the heavy hitters in this free agency class.
 
Still, the Wild may tinker.
 
Fletcher had a less hectic day today than he did one year ago today, but he still made a “ton of calls” to agents to see what the landscape looks like. He called specifically on defensemen, as the Wild will at least be looking to add one this offseason. Read Thursday’s article for some names, including one high up I know they’re interested in.
 
The big question is whether or not Matt Cullen is re-signed by the home squad.
 
While it doesn’t quite have the luster of #PariseWatch and #SuterWatch, #CullenWatch is underway. He had some conference calls today with his agents, which just so happen to be – Parise’s agents. I joked with Cullen today that it’s a travesty that Newport didn’t hole him up in their Mississauga war room like Parise and Brad Richards.
 
Where’s the respect for the wily vet?
 
I’m told Cullen got “lots of interest” and had a handful of conference calls with teams as well.
 
Now, Cullen hasn’t ruled out re-signing with Minnesota if that’s even a possibility, but in this new collective bargaining agreement, teams get an early recruitment period and Cullen fielded calls because quite frankly, that’s his prerogative.
 
“I’m just waiting to hear what Minnesota’s doing, but in the meantime, I’ve taken some calls from other teams,” Cullen said. “It’s a weird deal the way it’s set up now and I’m just trying to go into this with as open as a mind as possible. Chuck’s been very up front and honest with me and I’ll continue to do the same thing with them and keep communicating.
 
“At the same time, I just have to field these calls and do that side of it too because I don’t  know what’s going to happen. I’ll just see how many offers I have and see what I have for options here, and as the next couple days go on, I’ll get a clearer picture as to what they are and take a little time and figure out a decision.”
 
Fletcher has made it quite clear that the Wild will have a young roster next year, one that could include two-way forwards Charlie Coyle, Jason Zucker, Nino Niederreiter and Mikael Granlund.
 
So that could very well mean that Fletcher is ready to move on from Cullen and try to maximize his available dollars in other areas, like the blue line. Guys like Mike Ribeiro and Stephen Weiss and Tyler Bozak should be too expensive.
 
If Cullen departs and the Wild doesn’t make any free-agent or trade pickups at center, Coyle or Granlund will be vying for the spot to replace Cullen.
 
That will be quite the chore for a second-year forward, albeit two talented ones. Cullen fills several roles on the Wild, but he could potentially be out of the Wild’s price range.
 
He is 36, and since this could potentially be his final contract, he is looking for at least a three-year deal and could get big money, even at more than the $3.5 million per year he earned on his last contract.
 
Think of it this way: At some point the Wild wants to pass that baton to one of its young kids, so while losing Cullen could potentially put the Wild in a tough position next year, if the Wild re-signs him to a three-year deal, that could potentially block one of its kids in future years.
 
Cullen is coming off a strong season, still has the legs of a 20-something and has won a Cup in Carolina. He has scored 202 goals and 562 points in 1,073 games in 15 seasons with Anaheim, Florida, Carolina, the Rangers, Ottawa and Minnesota.
 
Some of the teams that may (and I stress MAY for folks who plan to pick this out and say I’m reporting this) have interest include St. Louis, Tampa Bay, Dallas, New Jersey and Phoenix. Nashville went after Vincent Lecavalier and is going after Daniel Briere, so they’re clearly looking for a center. Montreal went after Lecavalier. Buffalo is trying to get Briere back and Cullen opted for the Wild over Buffalo three years ago, so maybe there’s interest.
 
The teams that I definitely think need centers are St. Louis, Detroit, Columbus, Nashville and Dallas.
 
Selfishly, I hope the Wild re-sign Cullen because there’s few more accommodating athletes to cover. I say this as a Cullen expert because I got to cover him early in his career in Florida and later in his career in Minnesota.
 
But I do still think it’s less than 50-50. I think if Fletcher came to him with a quality contract, Cullen would like to stay. But in my history of covering the league, very rarely does it get this close to free agency and the player ends up returning.
 
Anyways, we shall see. I’ll be back with ya Thursday and Friday, so be sure to come back to startribune.com for Wild news.
 
Notes: In other news, the Wild’s development camp is July 9-14. Numbers will be low this year because none of their NHLers will be there, so instead of a scrimmage, the Wild plans a 3-on-3 tournament designed by Andrew Brunette and Brad Bombardir. That will be open to the public. More information should be out soon, like the date of the event.
 
--Center Zenon Konopka tweeted today (@zenonkonopka) Supporting @stopconcussions with our new wine out of Napa Valley "The Wild one" free shipping for a limited time. http://zkwines.com/wines-usa/
 
--Defenseman Ryan Suter (aka First Team All-Star) is on Twitter. I keep forgetting to tweet this…It’s @rsuter20. His web site is up and running, too, at www.rsuter20.com.
 

ADVERTISEMENT

Philadelphia 12/20/14 3:30 PM
Washington
San Diego 12/20/14 7:25 PM
San Francisco
Minnesota 12/21/14 12:00 PM
Miami
Baltimore 12/21/14 12:00 PM
Houston
Detroit 12/21/14 12:00 PM
Chicago
Cleveland 12/21/14 12:00 PM
Carolina
Atlanta 12/21/14 12:00 PM
New Orleans
Green Bay 12/21/14 12:00 PM
Tampa Bay
Kansas City 12/21/14 12:00 PM
Pittsburgh
New England 12/21/14 12:00 PM
NY Jets
NY Giants 12/21/14 3:05 PM
St. Louis
Buffalo 12/21/14 3:25 PM
Oakland
Indianapolis 12/21/14 3:25 PM
Dallas
Seattle 12/21/14 7:30 PM
Arizona
Denver 12/22/14 7:30 PM
Cincinnati
Utah 6:00 PM
Orlando
Charlotte 6:00 PM
Philadelphia
Brooklyn 6:30 PM
Cleveland
Washington 6:30 PM
Miami
Minnesota 6:30 PM
Boston
Toronto 6:30 PM
Detroit
Chicago 7:00 PM
Memphis
Portland 7:00 PM
San Antonio
LA Clippers 8:00 PM
Denver
Oklahoma City 9:30 PM
LA Lakers
Tampa Bay 6:00 PM
New Jersey
Anaheim 6:30 PM
Ottawa
NY Islanders 6:30 PM
Detroit
Boston 7:00 PM
Winnipeg
Dallas 8:00 PM
Calgary
Wilberforce 71 FINAL
Youngstown St 92
Jackson State 49 FINAL
Tulane 56
Siena 5:00 PM
Radford
Stillman 6:00 PM
Alabama
Case Western Reserve 6:00 PM
Bucknell
Niagara 6:00 PM
Buffalo
SD Christian 6:00 PM
UC Santa Barbara
Concordia (MI) 6:00 PM
Central Mich
Northern Ill 6:00 PM
Dartmouth
North Florida 6:00 PM
Florida A&M
Hiwassee 6:00 PM
Gardner-Webb
Tennessee St 6:00 PM
Hampton
NC A&T 6:00 PM
Kent State
Central Penn College 6:00 PM
Liberty
Bethune-Cookman 6:00 PM
Mercer
Eastern Ky 6:00 PM
Miami-Florida
Northern Ky 6:00 PM
Morehead State
Northern Ariz 6:00 PM
Norfolk State
MD-Eastern Shore 6:00 PM
Old Dominion
St Marys-CA 6:00 PM
St Johns
Clemson 6:00 PM
South Carolina
Tenn Tech 6:00 PM
Tennessee
Washington-MD 6:00 PM
William & Mary
Furman 6:30 PM
Fla Gulf Coast
South Dakota St 6:30 PM
CS-Bakersfield
Milligan 7:00 PM
Lamar
LSU-Alexandria 7:00 PM
ULM
Southern Utah 7:00 PM
Loyola-Chicago
Chattanooga 7:00 PM
Middle Tennessee
Seattle 7:00 PM
Minnesota
Lipscomb 7:00 PM
Princeton
Winthrop 7:00 PM
SE Louisiana
Dickinson State 7:00 PM
North Dakota
New Orleans 7:05 PM
Southern Ill
TX-Pan American 8:00 PM
Creighton
Colorado State 8:00 PM
Denver
Alabama A&M 8:00 PM
Marquette
Ark-Pine Bluff 8:00 PM
Texas Tech
Eastern Wash 9:00 PM
California
Idaho State 9:05 PM
Utah State
Arizona 10:00 PM
Texas-El Paso
Hawaii 10:59 PM
Chaminade
Nevada 12/20/14 10:00 AM
Louisiana
Utah State 12/20/14 1:20 PM
Texas-El Paso
(23) Utah 12/20/14 2:30 PM
Colorado State
Western Mich 12/20/14 4:45 PM
Air Force
South Alabama 12/20/14 8:15 PM
Bowling Green
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
Ohio Valley 33 FINAL
Youngstown St 84
East Tenn St 48 FINAL
UNC-Wilmington 61
Cal-Irvine 44 FINAL
Purdue 69
Campbell 63 FINAL
Stetson 76
Jacksonville St 70 FINAL
Charleston Southern 43
Louisiana 64 FINAL
Alcorn State 57
Denver 63 FINAL
Wright State 72
Blue Mountain 30 FINAL
Central Arkansas 71
Texas State 51 FINAL
Bethune-Cookman 40
Albany 62 FINAL
Pepperdine 36
TX-San Antonio 53 FINAL
Houston 56
Yale 50 2nd Half 5:04
Bucknell 58
Northern Colorado 46 2nd Half 5:09
Fla Gulf Coast 60
Belmont 48 2nd Half 20:00
Mercer 28
Massachusetts 31 2nd Half 20:00
Georgia State 35
George Mason 31 2nd Half
Winthrop 25
Portland State 13 1st Half 5:17
Princeton 44
UCLA 5:00 PM
Samford
Mobile 0 1st Half 20:00
Alabama State 0
Nicholls 5:30 PM
Texas Tech
Toledo 5:30 PM
Nevada
UMass Lowell 5:30 PM
(13) Duke
St Marys-CA 6:00 PM
Virginia
McNeese State 6:00 PM
Rice
McMurry 6:00 PM
Houston Baptist
NJIT 6:00 PM
Seton Hall
(6) North Carolina 6:00 PM
Maine
Lafayette 6:00 PM
Stony Brook
Siena 6:00 PM
Binghamton
Longwood 6:00 PM
Clemson
Savannah State 6:00 PM
Florida State
(19) Syracuse 6:00 PM
(9) Baylor
Buffalo 6:00 PM
Manhattan
Ohio U 6:00 PM
La Salle
Canisius 6:00 PM
Michigan
Davidson 6:00 PM
NC State
Northern Ky 6:00 PM
Delaware
Saint Louis 6:30 PM
Austin Peay
(25) DePaul 6:30 PM
(2) Connecticut
Florida Atlantic 7:00 PM
Long Beach St
Miami-Florida 7:00 PM
Tulane
Miss Valley St 7:00 PM
Memphis
Ark-Pine Bluff 7:00 PM
UAB
Bowling Green 7:05 PM
Illinois State
Arkansas State 7:05 PM
Missouri State
ULM 7:05 PM
Wichita State
(16) Oregon State 8:00 PM
Southern Ill
Utah Valley U 8:30 PM
Montana
Pacific 9:00 PM
New Mexico St
No Dakota State 9:00 PM
Cal State Fullerton
Utah State 9:00 PM
Sacramento St
Bethesda (CA) 9:00 PM
Fresno State
LSU 9:30 PM
UC Santa Barbara
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: Who is your favorite pro sports coach in the Twin Cities?

Weekly Question

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT