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 Devin Setoguchi, signs Matt Cooke

Posted by: Michael Russo under Wild off-season news Updated: July 5, 2013 - 9:29 PM

The Wild has traded Devin Setoguchi to the Winnipeg Jets for a 2014 second-round pick and responded by signing free agent Matt Cooke to a three-year deal worth $7.5 million.

The Setoguchi move cleared $3 million off the books.

Cooke, 34, an agitator who has allegedly cleaned up his act, has scored 153 goals and 360 points in 935 games. He has accumulated 1,068 penalty minutes and uh, some suspensions. Cooke is fast, has sneaky skill and hits.

He's been called everything from dirty to a cheap-shot artist to a headhunter, so much so that many around the league believe he intentionally stomped on Erik Karlsson last year in Ottawa, an incident that sliced Karlsson's Achilles.

Setoguchi, who came to the Wild in the Brent Burns trade at the 2011 draft, scored 27 goals and 63 points in 117 games with the Wild. At times, it was rocky, but Setoguchi caught fire last year with Matt Cullen and was a big reason the Wild made the playoffs.

He was entering the final year of his contract. We speculated he was expendable with the Nino Niederreiter acqusition, and now the Wild sends him to a new division rival. I couldn't get in touch with him because he and like half the Wild are at Clayton Stoner's wedding in Mexico.

Essentially, the Wild gets Cooke and a second for Setoguchi, if you look at it that way. Cooke, who won a Cup in Pittsburgh, is well known by Chuck Fletcher and Mike Yeo.

Updated quick hit blog, but...

A big portion of my article tomorrow originally was that every time Fletcher says he is done, he hasn't been. He has proven that throughout his career here. He certainly proved it again.

Please read me my two articles in Saturday's paper and I'll write a follow on the team, especially how much the Wild will be relying on its youngsters. Wild made the playoffs for the first time in five years, and lose Cullen, Clutterbuck, Bouchard, Setoguchi, Gilbert and Falk now. Fletcher still talks positively about this teams chances next year, but the reality is, this team will look very different and we'll have to see if they'll be better.

A lot of unknowns when you're relying so much on kids.

Essentially, Fletcher said he thought he was done today, but when teams missed out on free agents, the Setoguchi trade market heated up. Winnipeg offered a second, and since Setoguchi's future was likely elsewhere with one year left on his deal and the team quite different than when he acquired Setoguchi, he felt the value was right and the chance was ripe to acquire a "different type of player."

Fletcher called Cooke the ideal third-line player -- can score, skate, block shots, hit. This gives Dany Heatley a chance to move back into the top-6.

For quotes and all that, check out the article. Like I said, there will be follows in the next few days because a lot of the stuff in the original article that would have run tomorrow now has to be held for Sunday.

Fletchers says he's got nothing else planned right now. I don't buy it. For instance, I just think Zenon Konopka's future is in flux. I've reported four names to you all along that were being shopped -- Clutterbuck, Falk, Setoguchi, Konopka. Three are gone.

 

UPDATED WILD DEPTH CHART
 
Forwards
 
Left wing                         Center                          Right wing
 
Zach Parise ($7.5+M)       Mikko Koivu (6.75M)   **Jason Pominville (4.505M)
 
*Jason Zucker ($833,333) *Charlie Coyle (975K)   Dany Heatley (7.5M)
 
Matt Cooke (2.5M) Kyle Brodziak (2.83+M) *Nino Niederreiter (2.795M)  
 
Mike Rupp (1.5M)           Zenon Konopka (925K) Torrey Mitchell (1.9M)
 
Extra: Jake Dowell (700K)
 
Some vying for spots: *Mikael Granlund, Justin Fontaine (RFA), Stephane Veilleux, *Erik Haula, *Brett Bulmer, *Zack Phillips.
* Two-way contract; can be sent to the minors without waivers.
**Buffalo picking up roughing $795,000
 
Defensemen
 
Left Defense                     Right Defense
 
Ryan Suter (7.5+M)          Jonas Brodin (1.4+M)
 
Marco Scandella (1.025M) Keith Ballard (1.5M)
 
Clayton Stoner (1.05M)   Jared Spurgeon (2.66M)
 
Extra: Nate Prosser (825,000)
 
Vying for spots: Matt Dumba (can’t play in Iowa), Steve Kampfer, Kyle Medvec (RFA)
 
Goalies
 
Niklas Backstrom (3.42M)
Josh Harding (1.9M)
  
Buyout charge
 
Mark Parrish ($927,778)
 
Total cap hit roughly: $62,753,868(includes Buffalo picking up Pominville’s portion)
Wild’s approximate cap ceiling next year (roughly $400,000 less than NHL): $63.9M
***Available space roughly: $1,146,132. This doesn't include others making the team. For instance, if Granlund makes it, his cap hit is $2.1 million. Remember also, the Wild needs to save at least $1 million of space for in-season injury callups.
***Cap hits for all Minnesota’s entry-level players inflated for potential bonuses (for example, Niederreiter’s salary is actually $810,000); teams can exceed the cap by 7.5% on potential performance bonuses, so Wild actually has more cap space than listed. 

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