Sunday NHL Insider: Responding to e-mailers in the season's first mailbag

  • Article by: MICHAEL RUSSO , Star Tribune
  • Updated: November 9, 2013 - 4:56 PM

Michal Russo opens his Blog mailbag for the first time this season.

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In need of some toughness and a big shot on the blue line, the Wild could target Pittsburgh defenseman Brooks Orpik, left, in free agency.

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Bloggers ask, I answer

cntrygntlmn: Why play Ryan Suter 30 minutes in a 5-1 blowout win over Calgary?

Russo: Jared Spurgeon missed most the second period and Keith Ballard part of the third with injuries.

 

orion715: Who goes out when Mike Rupp gets healthy?

Russo: Maybe nobody. He may need to wait for an injury, and I can foresee him being spotted in whenever coach Mike Yeo feels the need for toughness.

 

Waferthin: In theory, could the Wild use a compliance buyout on Niklas Backstrom if Josh Harding continues his torrid streak?

Russo: In theory, yes. If you use a regular buyout on a player who signed a contract when he was 35 or over, you’d still be charged with a cap penalty. But that’s not the case for a compliance buyout. Again, … in theory. I’m not saying that’s in the cards.

 

Milesmike: Does Yeo get a contract extension this year?

Russo: My guess is they wait until the end of the year to see what transpires with the season. I think he should have gotten a one-year extension before the season. I don’t think it’s fair to coaches to be in the last year of their deal.

 

rsmaggiemae1949: I never understood why the Wild did not give Nate Schmidt at least a look?

Russo: While maybe they didn’t heavily pursue, Schmidt told me it was a moot point, saying, “[Zach] Parise did it the right way. Make a name for yourself elsewhere. It’s too much pressure playing at home when you’re young.”

 

Hockeybias: What Minnesotans do you see playing in Sochi?

Russo: Parise and David Backes will make up the leadership core. Derek Stepan and T.J. Oshie have real quality chances. Most fascinating will be the blue line. Ryan McDonagh and Paul Martin should be there, but mobility and puck-moving will be key, so one would assume Justin Faulk has a great shot and maybe even Nick Leddy. Dustin Byfuglien’s booming shot is also intriguing.

 

Megami: Was Justin Fontaine just buried on the depth chart?

Russo: He was a college free agent and he needed to learn the pro game and pay his dues. Fair or not, teams usually focus on their own high draft picks, but Fontaine couldn’t prove anything else in the minors and is showing this year why the minors are so valuable.

mudhen26: At what point do you put Dany Heatley and his cap hit aside and play the best top six or nine forwards?

Russo: I actually think the Wild has stumbled on the proper role at this juncture. As long as the team is healthy and Heatley’s being professional enough to skate on the fourth line, he gets those minutes against forwards that aren’t as defensively sound and gets spot power-play time.

 

Nickinny: If the Wild doesn’t go after Thomas Vanek next summer, who are some defensemen they may pursue?

Russo: They still could use some physicality and a booming shot on the back end, so two that jump out are Dion Phaneuf and Andrei Markov. I don’t feel Phaneuf is the same intimidating player he once was in Calgary and Markov is 34 with knee issues. Two very intriguing names are the Rangers’ Dan Girardi and Pittsburgh’s Brooks Orpik, and we know there’s a history with Yeo and GM Chuck Fletcher with Orpik.

 

icedice34: How’s Jason Zucker’s AHL season going?

Russo: The reports out of Iowa are that Zucker hasn’t played well. He needs to learn the nuances of the pro game, like playing in the defensive zone and reading plays. The Wild wants him to play an extended stretch down there to develop. The same could be said for Erik Haula, although he had a better training camp.

 

Waferthin: What’s the word on Zack Phillips?

Russo: I lump Phillips and Brett Bulmer in the same category. They both need to continue to develop, and Bulmer needs to find a way to stay healthy. Iowa is a good place for both of them right now.

NHL short takes

Pity the Panthers

Nothing ever changes in Florida. It’s like “Groundhog Day.”

The most unstable franchise in hockey for a decade fired its latest coaching staff Friday, highlighted by Kevin Dineen’s dismissal. Pete Horachek takes over as interim coach, with one of the assistants becoming Edina resident John Madden, the former Wild center.

Since Bryan and Terry Murray were fired as general manager and coach on Dec. 31, 2000, the Panthers have had seven GMs and eight coaches. They’ve had multiple ownership changes and player turnover. The Panthers prove no stability gives you no chance.

It’s an endless cycle. Every time somebody gets fired, the plan is thrown out the window and you start over. A few years later, it happens again. And then again.

Bad rule needs to go

At this month’s GMs meetings, execs need to rid the aggressor penalty out of the rule book. Flyers goalie Ray Emery wasn’t suspended after skating the length of the ice and attacking Washington goalie Braden Holtby because technically there was no rule to enforce to sit him.

Emery was deemed the “aggressor” in the fight. Guess what? A player isn’t suspended two games until he gets three aggressors in the same season. So, in essence, Emery can assault two more players until he’s suspended.

Blue Jacket blues

Things are bad in Columbus. Fans and management are all over Marian Gaborik, and even coach Todd Richards, who never called out his team in Minnesota, lit into the Jackets after a loss to the Rangers, “That was embarrassing hockey.”

Wild’s week ahead

Wednesday: vs. Toronto, 6:30 p.m. (FSN+)

Friday: vs. Florida, 7 p.m. (FSN)

Player to watch
:

Phil Kessel, Toronto

Five weeks after signing a whopping eight-year, $64 million deal, the former Gopher leads the Maple Leafs with nine goals and 18 points.

Voices

“Hopefully they come in bunches now. I’m not going to bet my life on it.” - Zenon Konopka after scoring his first goal since December 2011 on Tuesday against Calgary.

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Philadelphia 12/20/14 3:30 PM
Washington
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San Francisco
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Miami
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Houston
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Oakland
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Dallas
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Arizona
Denver 12/22/14 7:30 PM
Cincinnati
Utah 10 1st Qtr 6:13
Orlando 10
Charlotte 13 1st Qtr 6:36
Philadelphia 14
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 0 1st Prd 13:31
New Jersey 1
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 35 2nd Half 15:59
Radford 45
Stillman 2 1st Half 14:55
Alabama 8
Case Western Reserve 7 1st Half 12:48
Bucknell 17
Niagara 5 1st Half 13:34
Buffalo 11
SD Christian 10 1st Half 9:29
UC Santa Barbara 21
Concordia (MI) 15 1st Half 12:28
Central Mich 16
Northern Ill 8 1st Half 13:07
Dartmouth 6
North Florida 9 1st Half 15:39
Florida A&M 2
Hiwassee 7 1st Half 12:52
Gardner-Webb 17
Tennessee St 8 1st Half 14:24
Hampton 4
NC A&T 6 1st Half 13:08
Kent State 8
Central Penn College 11 1st Half 12:14
Liberty 20
Bethune-Cookman 6:00 PM
Mercer
Eastern Ky 8 1st Half 12:29
Miami-Florida 3
Northern Ky 26 1st Half 10:45
Morehead State 6
Northern Ariz 11 1st Half 11:46
Norfolk State 16
MD-Eastern Shore 9 1st Half 13:33
Old Dominion 10
St Marys-CA 13 1st Half 11:46
St Johns 6
Clemson 7 1st Half 11:28
South Carolina 16
Tenn Tech 13 1st Half 12:30
Tennessee 12
Washington-MD 2 1st Half 15:16
William & Mary 11
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 66 FINAL
Bucknell 73
Northern Colorado 56 FINAL
Fla Gulf Coast 69
Belmont 86 FINAL
Mercer 83
Massachusetts 66 FINAL
Georgia State 71
George Mason 69 FINAL
Winthrop 57
Portland State 33 FINAL
Princeton 104
UCLA 43 2nd Half 15:32
Samford 35
Mobile 19 2nd Half 11:48
Alabama State 52
Nicholls 27 2nd Half
Texas Tech 39
Toledo 27 2nd Half
Nevada 26
UMass Lowell 20 1st Half 0:04
(13) Duke 50
Canisius 6:00 PM
Michigan
St Marys-CA 9 1st Half 14:12
Virginia 8
McNeese State 8 1st Half 13:21
Rice 8
McMurry 16 1st Half 11:32
Houston Baptist 20
NJIT 9 1st Half 11:48
Seton Hall 25
(6) North Carolina 0 1st Half 20:00
Maine 0
Lafayette 10 1st Half 15:41
Stony Brook 2
Siena 6 1st Half 13:07
Binghamton 10
Longwood 7 1st Half 15:31
Clemson 6
Savannah State 9 1st Half 14:05
Florida State 18
(19) Syracuse 5 1st Half 13:13
(9) Baylor 12
Buffalo 5 1st Half 15:38
Manhattan 5
Davidson 14 1st Half 13:18
NC State 15
Northern Ky 14 1st Half 12:28
Delaware 11
Saint Louis 6:30 PM
Austin Peay
(25) DePaul 6:30 PM
(2) Connecticut
Ohio U 6:30 PM
La Salle
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
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LSU 9:30 PM
UC Santa Barbara
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