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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NY Yankees - LP: B. McCarthy 3 FINAL
Toronto - WP: J. Happ 4
Philadelphia - LP: A. Burnett 5 FINAL
NY Mets - WP: D. Gee 6
Cincinnati - WP: J. Cueto 3 FINAL
Pittsburgh - LP: J. Hughes 2
Minnesota - LP: R. Nolasco 8 FINAL
Baltimore - WP: W. Chen 12
Boston - WP: C. Buchholz 3 FINAL
Tampa Bay - LP: A. Cobb 0
Detroit - LP: R. Porcello 2 FINAL
Chicago WSox - WP: J. Quintana 6
Texas - LP: N. Cotts 2 FINAL
Houston - WP: J. Veras 3
Chicago Cubs - LP: C. Villanueva 6 FINAL
St. Louis - WP: P. Neshek 9
Oakland - LP: S. Kazmir 1 FINAL
LA Angels - WP: M. Shoemaker 8
Milwaukee - LP: K. Lohse 5 FINAL
San Francisco - WP: M. Bumgarner 15
Los Angeles - WP: H. Ryu 7 FINAL
San Diego - LP: E. Stults 1
Washington - LP: T. Roark 3 FINAL
Seattle - WP: H. Iwakuma 5
Colorado - LP: J. De La Rosa 2 FINAL
Arizona - WP: C. Anderson 6
Miami - LP: N. Eovaldi 0 FINAL
Atlanta - WP: A. Wood 1
Cleveland 4 Suspended
Kansas City 2
Green Bay 9/4/14 7:30 PM
Seattle
Troy 10 FINAL
UAB 48
(7) UCLA 28 FINAL
Virginia 20
Western Mich 34 FINAL
Purdue 43
(5) Ohio State 34 FINAL
Navy 17
Appalachian St 14 FINAL
Michigan 52
Ga Southern 23 FINAL
NC State 24
Boston College 30 FINAL
Massachusetts 7
West Virginia 23 FINAL
(2) Alabama 33
Rice 17 FINAL
(17) Notre Dame 48
(10) South Dakota St 18 FINAL
(24) Missouri 38
Fla Atlantic 7 FINAL
(22) Nebraska 55
California 31 FINAL
Northwestern 24
Marshall 42 FINAL
Miami-Ohio 27
UC Davis 0 FINAL
(11) Stanford 45
Arkansas 21 FINAL
(6) Auburn 45
(16) Clemson 21 FINAL
(12) Georgia 45
Liberty 29 FINAL
(23) North Carolina 56
Ohio U 17 FINAL
Kent State 14
Louisiana Tech 16 FINAL
(4) Oklahoma 48
Stephen F Austin 16 FINAL
(20) Kansas State 55
Fresno State 13 FINAL
(15) USC 52
Southern Miss 0 FINAL
Miss State 49
Texas-El Paso 31 FINAL
New Mexico 24
North Texas 7 FINAL
Texas 38
(1) Florida State 37 FINAL
Oklahoma State 31
(14) Wisconsin 24 FINAL
(13) LSU 28
Idaho 0 Postponed
Florida 0
South Dakota 13 FINAL
(3) Oregon 62
(25) Washington 17 FINAL
Hawaii 16
Utah State 7 FINAL
Tennessee 38
SMU 0 FINAL
(10) Baylor 45
Miami-Florida 7:00 PM
Louisville
Arizona 9/4/14 7:00 PM
TX-San Antonio
Pittsburgh 9/5/14 6:00 PM
Boston College
Washington St 9/5/14 9:30 PM
Nevada
SMU 9/6/14 11:00 AM
North Texas
Fla Atlantic 9/6/14 11:00 AM
(2) Alabama
Buffalo 9/6/14 11:00 AM
Army
(24) Missouri 9/6/14 11:00 AM
Toledo
Arkansas State 9/6/14 11:00 AM
Tennessee
(8) McNeese State 9/6/14 11:00 AM
(22) Nebraska
Central Mich 9/6/14 11:00 AM
Purdue
Akron 9/6/14 11:00 AM
Penn State
Western Ill 9/6/14 11:00 AM
(14) Wisconsin
(20) Kansas State 9/6/14 11:00 AM
Iowa State
(4) Oklahoma 9/6/14 11:00 AM
Tulsa
Western Ky 9/6/14 11:00 AM
Illinois
SC State 9/6/14 11:30 AM
(16) Clemson
Navy 9/6/14 12:00 PM
Temple
UAB 9/6/14 1:00 PM
Miss State
South Alabama 9/6/14 1:00 PM
Kent State
New Mexico St 9/6/14 1:00 PM
Georgia State
Colorado 9/6/14 2:00 PM
Massachusetts
Fresno State 9/6/14 2:00 PM
Utah
(1) Eastern Wash 9/6/14 2:00 PM
(25) Washington
(15) USC 9/6/14 2:30 PM
(11) Stanford
Ohio U 9/6/14 2:30 PM
Kentucky
Middle Tennessee 9/6/14 2:30 PM
Minnesota
Northern Ill 9/6/14 2:30 PM
Northwestern
Missouri State 9/6/14 2:30 PM
Oklahoma State
Ball State 9/6/14 2:30 PM
Iowa
Maryland 9/6/14 2:30 PM
So Florida
Eastern Mich 9/6/14 3:00 PM
Florida
Georgia Tech 9/6/14 3:00 PM
Tulane
(18) Ole Miss 9/6/14 3:30 PM
Vanderbilt
Old Dominion 9/6/14 5:00 PM
NC State
(8) Michigan State 9/6/14 5:30 PM
(3) Oregon
(19) Arizona State 9/6/14 6:00 PM
New Mexico
Louisiana Tech 9/6/14 6:00 PM
Louisiana
San Jose St 9/6/14 6:00 PM
(6) Auburn
East Carolina 9/6/14 6:00 PM
(9) So Carolina
Duke 9/6/14 6:00 PM
Troy
Idaho 9/6/14 6:00 PM
ULM
(17) Sam Houston St 9/6/14 6:30 PM
(13) LSU
Michigan 9/6/14 6:30 PM
(17) Notre Dame
Lamar 9/6/14 6:30 PM
(21) Texas A&M
Northwestern St 9/6/14 6:30 PM
(10) Baylor
BYU 9/6/14 6:30 PM
Texas
Citadel 9/6/14 6:30 PM
(1) Florida State
San Diego St 9/6/14 7:00 PM
(23) North Carolina
Virginia Tech 9/6/14 7:00 PM
(5) Ohio State
Memphis 9/6/14 9:00 PM
(7) UCLA
Colorado State 9/6/14 9:15 PM
Boise State
Air Force 9/6/14 9:15 PM
Wyoming
Oregon State 9/6/14 9:30 PM
Hawaii
Texas Tech 9/6/14 10:00 PM
Texas-El Paso
Red Bull New York 0 FINAL
D.C. 2
Los Angeles 3 FINAL
Chivas USA 0
Ottawa 10 FINAL
Montreal 20
Winnipeg 30 FINAL
Saskatchewan 35
Toronto 12:00 PM
Hamilton
Edmonton 3:30 PM
Calgary
Phoenix 77 FINAL
Minnesota 82
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