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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Tampa Bay - WP: J. McGee 6 FINAL
Toronto - LP: B. Morrow 5
Cleveland - LP: B. Shaw 4 FINAL
Detroit - WP: P. Coke 6
Washington - WP: J. Zimmermann 3 FINAL
NY Mets - LP: J. Niese 0
Chicago Cubs - LP: J. Turner 3 FINAL
Pittsburgh - WP: E. Volquez 7
Miami - WP: A. DeSclafani 5 FINAL
Philadelphia - LP: J. Papelbon 4
Cincinnati - LP: M. Leake 2 FINAL
Milwaukee - WP: M. Garza 9
Boston - WP: J. Kelly 8 FINAL
Kansas City - LP: J. Vargas 4
Minnesota - WP: T. May 6 FINAL
Chicago WSox - LP: H. Noesi 4
Colorado - LP: J. Lyles 1 FINAL
St. Louis - WP: M. Gonzales 4
Atlanta - LP: M. Minor 3 FINAL
Texas - WP: C. Lewis 10
Houston - WP: D. Keuchel 6 FINAL
LA Angels - LP: H. Santiago 1
Los Angeles - WP: C. Kershaw 4 FINAL
San Francisco - LP: Y. Petit 2
San Diego - LP: O. Despaigne 6 FINAL
Arizona - WP: Z. Spruill 8
Oakland - WP: J. Lester 4 FINAL
Seattle - LP: C. Young 0
NY Yankees - LP: D. Robertson 2 FINAL
Baltimore - WP: D. O`Day 3
Miami 10 FINAL
Buffalo 29
Jacksonville 10 FINAL
Washington 41
Dallas 26 FINAL
Tennessee 10
Arizona 25 FINAL
NY Giants 14
New England 30 FINAL
Minnesota 7
New Orleans 24 FINAL
Cleveland 26
Atlanta 10 FINAL
Cincinnati 24
Detroit 7 FINAL
Carolina 24
St. Louis 19 FINAL
Tampa Bay 17
Seattle 21 FINAL
San Diego 30
NY Jets 24 FINAL
Green Bay 31
Kansas City 17 FINAL
Denver 24
Houston 30 FINAL
Oakland 14
Chicago 28 FINAL
San Francisco 20
Philadelphia 7:30 PM
Indianapolis
Tampa Bay 9/18/14 7:25 PM
Atlanta
Boise State 38 FINAL
Connecticut 21
Indiana 42 FINAL
Bowling Green 45
Ga Southern 38 FINAL
Georgia Tech 42
Syracuse 40 FINAL
Central Mich 3
UCF 10 FINAL
(18) Missouri 38
Massachusetts 31 FINAL
Vanderbilt 34
Ohio U 14 FINAL
Marshall 44
West Virginia 40 FINAL
Maryland 37
Kent State 0 FINAL
(23) Ohio State 66
Pittsburgh 42 FINAL
FIU 25
East Carolina 28 FINAL
Virginia Tech 21
Louisville 21 FINAL
Virginia 23
Wyoming 14 FINAL
(2) Oregon 48
Air Force 48 FINAL
Georgia State 38
(13) Georgia 35 FINAL
(14) So Carolina 38
Arkansas 49 FINAL
Texas Tech 28
Iowa State 20 FINAL
Iowa 17
Miami-Ohio 10 FINAL
Michigan 34
Kansas 3 FINAL
Duke 41
NC State 49 FINAL
So Florida 17
Arkansas State 20 FINAL
Miami-Florida 41
Miss State 35 FINAL
South Alabama 3
Louisiana 15 FINAL
(10) Ole Miss 56
Minnesota 7 FINAL
TCU 30
Illinois 19 FINAL
Washington 44
Army 0 FINAL
(16) Stanford 35
Western Mich 45 FINAL
Idaho 33
Eastern Mich 3 FINAL
Old Dominion 17
Southern Miss 12 FINAL
(3) Alabama 52
Northern Ill 48 FINAL
UNLV 34
Tulsa 21 FINAL
Fla Atlantic 50
ULM 0 FINAL
(8) LSU 31
Wake Forest 24 FINAL
Utah State 36
Western Ky 47 FINAL
Middle Tennessee 50
TX-San Antonio 13 FINAL
(25) Oklahoma State 43
Purdue 14 FINAL
(9) Notre Dame 30
Kentucky 30 FINAL
Florida 36
New Mexico St 24 FINAL
Texas-El Paso 42
Tennessee 10 FINAL
(4) Oklahoma 34
(17) USC 31 FINAL
Boston College 37
Navy 35 FINAL
Texas State 21
(12) UCLA 20 FINAL
Texas 17
Penn State 13 FINAL
Rutgers 10
Rice 10 FINAL
(6) Texas A&M 38
(15) Arizona State 38 FINAL
Colorado 24
(24) Nebraska 55 FINAL
Fresno State 19
Nevada 28 FINAL
Arizona 35
(5) Auburn 9/18/14 6:30 PM
(20) Kansas State
Connecticut 9/19/14 7:00 PM
So Florida
Old Dominion 9/20/14 11:00 AM
Rice
Troy 9/20/14 11:00 AM
(13) Georgia
Georgia Tech 9/20/14 11:00 AM
Virginia Tech
Eastern Mich 9/20/14 11:00 AM
(11) Michigan State
Iowa 9/20/14 11:00 AM
Pittsburgh
Bowling Green 9/20/14 11:00 AM
(19) Wisconsin
Maryland 9/20/14 11:30 AM
Syracuse
Tulane 9/20/14 11:30 AM
Duke
Hawaii 9/20/14 1:00 PM
Colorado
Marshall 9/20/14 1:00 PM
Akron
North Carolina 9/20/14 2:30 PM
East Carolina
Army 9/20/14 2:30 PM
Wake Forest
Virginia 9/20/14 2:30 PM
(21) BYU
(6) Texas A&M 9/20/14 2:30 PM
SMU
Rutgers 9/20/14 2:30 PM
Navy
Central Mich 9/20/14 2:30 PM
Kansas
Utah 9/20/14 2:30 PM
Michigan
Florida 9/20/14 2:30 PM
(3) Alabama
Louisville 9/20/14 2:30 PM
FIU
Fla Atlantic 9/20/14 3:00 PM
Wyoming
Indiana 9/20/14 3:00 PM
(18) Missouri
San Jose St 9/20/14 3:00 PM
Minnesota
Texas State 9/20/14 3:00 PM
Illinois
Massachusetts 9/20/14 3:00 PM
Penn State
Georgia State 9/20/14 5:00 PM
Washington
Appalachian St 9/20/14 6:00 PM
Southern Miss
Miss State 9/20/14 6:00 PM
(8) LSU
Northern Ill 9/20/14 6:00 PM
Arkansas
Middle Tennessee 9/20/14 6:00 PM
Memphis
Utah State 9/20/14 6:00 PM
Arkansas State
Miami-Ohio 9/20/14 6:00 PM
Cincinnati
Idaho 9/20/14 6:00 PM
Ohio U
Ball State 9/20/14 6:00 PM
Toledo
(14) So Carolina 9/20/14 6:30 PM
Vanderbilt
(4) Oklahoma 9/20/14 6:30 PM
West Virginia
Ga Southern 9/20/14 6:30 PM
South Alabama
UNLV 9/20/14 7:00 PM
Houston
(22) Clemson 9/20/14 7:00 PM
(1) Florida State
Miami-Florida 9/20/14 7:00 PM
(24) Nebraska
New Mexico 9/20/14 7:00 PM
New Mexico St
California 9/20/14 9:00 PM
Arizona
Louisiana 9/20/14 9:30 PM
Boise State
(2) Oregon 9/20/14 9:30 PM
Washington St
San Diego St 9/20/14 9:30 PM
Oregon State
Los Angeles 1 FINAL
San Jose 1
Montreal 16 FINAL
Edmonton 33
Toronto 33 FINAL
Calgary 40
Winnipeg 9 FINAL
Brt Columbia 26
Saskatchewan 3 FINAL
Hamilton 28
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