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, Jonathon Blum agree to terms; Full prospects scrimmage Saturday

Posted by: Michael Russo under Wild off-season news Updated: July 12, 2013 - 10:33 AM
Rather than a 3-on-3 tournament Saturday, the Wild will now hold a more visually-pleasing, fan-friendly full prospects scrimmage Saturday at Xcel Energy Center from 3-4:30 p.m. Gate One opens at 2:30.
 
Today, the Wild will hold simultaneous half-sheet 3-on-3 tourneys at 2:45 p.m. Gate One opens at 2:15.
 
Both sessions are free and open to the general masses.
 
The Wild has also officially announced that it has agreed to terms with free-agent defenseman Jonathon Blum to a one-year, two-way contract.
 
Blum, a 2007 Nashville Predators first-round pick, will vie for a roster spot. If he doesn’t make the team, he will certainly be a first callup option.
 
Remember, on all teams, one-way contracts usually rule the roost, so Blum is behind the one-way guys on the depth chart whether you agree he should be or not. The one thing he does have going for him: He’d require waivers to get him to the minors, so if he proves in training camp that he warrants a roster spot, you can bet the Wild would try to make room.
 
The Predators didn’t tender Blum, 24, a former Western Hockey League star from the Vancouver Giants, a qualifying offer presumably because the threat of his winning a one-way arbitration case and Nashville’s logjam on the blue line. He became an unrestricted free agent last Friday. It was clear from reading Josh Cooper's stuff in the Tennessean the past few years that Blum has talent but needed a fresh start. Just wasn't working there.
 
But it is a turbulent climate out there. The list of quality free agents that can’t get jobs right now is frankly amazing, and expected, because teams just don’t have the cap space with the cap dropping nearly $6 million. There is zero doubt, many NHL careers are in jeopardy, so you’re going to start seeing some quality names being forced to sign two-way contracts or pro tryouts. You get a 24-year-old former first-round pick on a two-way deal like Blum, it could end up being a steal.
 
The 6-1, 195-pound right-shot Blum has scored seven goals and 22 points in 91 NHL games for the Predators. In four years with the Western Hockey League’s Vancouver Giants, Blum, their former captain, scored 49 goals and 204 points. He was WHL and CHL Defenseman of the Year in 2009. He scored 66 points that year playing on a team with Winnipeg’s Evander Kane. He won a Memorial Cup in 2007. His Giants teams recorded four consecutive years of 100 points. He is their all-time leader in assists (138).
 
The Rancho Santa Margarita, Calif., native represented the U.S. in the world juniors twice. If you want to read some articles written recently on Blum in the Vancouver papers, see the previous blog.
 
The Wild also signed defenseman Jon Landry to a one-year, two-way deal. He scored 33 points and had 57 penalty minutes in 72 games with Bridgeport last season. He's a 6-3, 220-pounder from Montreal.
 
UPDATED WILD DEPTH CHART (AS OF JULY 12)
 
Here is the updated depth chart. Chuck Fletcher has lately said in his mind, only two of the young prospects really “need” to make the team. That puts Charlie Coyle, Jason Zucker, Nino Niederreiter, Mikael Granlund and Erik Haula in that pool of “vying for spots” players. It’ll be fun to watch that battle in training camp. If only two of the young kids really end up making it, perhaps Torrey Mitchell moves to the third line and a right wing like 25-year-old Justin Fontaine, who had a terrific year for the Aeros last year, challenges for a spot on the fourth line.
 
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.
* Entry-level 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: Jonathon Blum, Matt Dumba (Must make the Wild or return to WHL Red Deer, not Iowa eligible because he’ll be 19), 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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