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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Chicago Cubs - WP: J. Grimm 8
Detroit - WP: M. Scherzer 3 FINAL
Kansas City - LP: J. Shields 2
Philadelphia - WP: J. Williams 3 FINAL
Oakland - LP: D. Otero 0
Toronto - WP: M. Stroman 6 FINAL
NY Yankees - LP: C. Capuano 3
Arizona - LP: T. Cahill 1 FINAL
Colorado - WP: E. Butler 5
Boston - LP: R. De La Rosa 2 FINAL
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Milwaukee - WP: Z. Duke 1 FINAL
Pittsburgh - LP: M. Melancon 0
Washington - WP: J. Zimmermann 3 FINAL
Miami - LP: J. Cosart 2
NY Mets - WP: J. Niese 4 FINAL
Atlanta - LP: M. Minor 2
Chicago WSox - LP: H. Noesi 1 FINAL
Tampa Bay - WP: C. Archer 3
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Minnesota - LP: T. May 3
Seattle - LP: C. Young 1 FINAL
Houston - WP: D. Keuchel 10
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Buffalo
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St. Louis
Washington 12:00 PM
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NY Giants
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New Orleans
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Detroit
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Jacksonville
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New England
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Arizona
Denver 3:25 PM
Seattle
Kansas City 3:25 PM
Miami
Pittsburgh 7:30 PM
Carolina
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NY Jets
NY Giants 9/25/14 7:25 PM
Washington
Connecticut 14 FINAL
So Florida 17
Old Dominion 45 FINAL
Rice 42
Troy 0 FINAL
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Georgia Tech 27 FINAL
Virginia Tech 24
Eastern Mich 14 FINAL
(11) Michigan State 73
Iowa 24 FINAL
Pittsburgh 20
Bowling Green 17 FINAL
(19) Wisconsin 68
Maryland 34 FINAL
Syracuse 20
Tulane 13 FINAL
Duke 47
Hawaii 12 FINAL
Colorado 21
Marshall 48 FINAL
Akron 17
North Carolina 41 FINAL
East Carolina 70
Army 21 FINAL
Wake Forest 24
Virginia 33 FINAL
(21) BYU 41
(6) Texas A&M 58 FINAL
SMU 6
Rutgers 31 FINAL
Navy 24
Central Mich 10 FINAL
Kansas 24
Utah 26 FINAL
Michigan 10
Florida 21 FINAL
(3) Alabama 42
Louisville 34 FINAL
FIU 3
Fla Atlantic 19 FINAL
Wyoming 20
Indiana 31 FINAL
(18) Missouri 27
San Jose St 7 FINAL
Minnesota 24
Texas State 35 FINAL
Illinois 42
Massachusetts 7 FINAL
Penn State 48
Georgia State 14 FINAL
Washington 45
Appalachian St 20 FINAL
Southern Miss 21
Miss State 34 FINAL
(8) LSU 29
Northern Ill 14 FINAL
Arkansas 52
Middle Tennessee 17 FINAL
Memphis 36
Utah State 14 FINAL
Arkansas State 21
Miami-Ohio 24 FINAL
Cincinnati 31
Idaho 24 FINAL
Ohio U 36
Ball State 23 FINAL
Toledo 34
(14) So Carolina 48 FINAL
Vanderbilt 34
(4) Oklahoma 45 FINAL
West Virginia 33
Ga Southern 28 FINAL
South Alabama 6
UNLV 14 FINAL
Houston 47
Miami-Florida 31 FINAL
(24) Nebraska 41
New Mexico 38 FINAL
New Mexico St 35
(22) Clemson 17 FINAL
(1) Florida State 23
California 45 FINAL
Arizona 49
San Diego St 7 FINAL
Oregon State 28
(2) Oregon 38 FINAL
Washington St 31
Louisiana 9 FINAL
Boise State 34
Texas Tech 9/25/14 6:30 PM
(25) Oklahoma State
Appalachian St 9/25/14 6:30 PM
Ga Southern
(12) UCLA 9/25/14 9:00 PM
(15) Arizona State
Middle Tennessee 9/26/14 7:00 PM
Old Dominion
Fresno State 9/26/14 7:00 PM
New Mexico
(1) Florida State 9/27/14 2:00 AM
NC State
Duke 9/27/14 2:00 AM
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North Carolina 9/27/14 2:00 AM
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(20) Kansas State
Tennessee 9/27/14 11:00 AM
(13) Georgia
Vanderbilt 9/27/14 11:00 AM
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Wyoming 9/27/14 11:00 AM
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Northwestern 9/27/14 11:00 AM
Penn State
TCU 9/27/14 11:00 AM
SMU
Iowa 9/27/14 11:00 AM
Purdue
Tulane 9/27/14 11:00 AM
Rutgers
So Florida 9/27/14 11:00 AM
(19) Wisconsin
Colorado State 9/27/14 11:30 AM
Boston College
Western Mich 9/27/14 11:30 AM
Virginia Tech
Maryland 9/27/14 12:30 PM
Indiana
Akron 9/27/14 12:30 PM
Pittsburgh
Bowling Green 9/27/14 2:00 PM
Massachusetts
Arkansas 9/27/14 2:30 PM
(6) Texas A&M
Kent State 9/27/14 2:30 PM
Virginia
Western Ky 9/27/14 2:30 PM
Navy
Minnesota 9/27/14 2:30 PM
Michigan
Wake Forest 9/27/14 2:30 PM
Louisville
FIU 9/27/14 2:30 PM
UAB
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Buffalo
Colorado 9/27/14 3:00 PM
California
Louisiana Tech 9/27/14 3:00 PM
(5) Auburn
Texas 9/27/14 3:00 PM
Kansas
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Connecticut
(16) Stanford 9/27/14 3:15 PM
Washington
TX-San Antonio 9/27/14 4:00 PM
Fla Atlantic
South Alabama 9/27/14 4:00 PM
Idaho
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(23) Ohio State
Rice 9/27/14 6:00 PM
Southern Miss
(18) Missouri 9/27/14 6:00 PM
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Air Force
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ULM
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(8) LSU
Memphis 9/27/14 6:30 PM
(10) Ole Miss
Texas State 9/27/14 7:00 PM
Tulsa
Washington St 9/27/14 7:00 PM
Utah
(9) Notre Dame 9/27/14 7:00 PM
Syracuse
(7) Baylor 9/27/14 7:00 PM
Iowa State
UNLV 9/27/14 7:00 PM
San Diego St
Illinois 9/27/14 8:00 PM
(24) Nebraska
Oregon State 9/27/14 9:30 PM
(17) USC
Nevada 9/27/14 9:30 PM
San Jose St
Vancouver FC 0 FINAL
Portland 3
Houston 0 FINAL
Philadelphia 0
New England 0 FINAL
Columbus 1
San Jose 0 FINAL
Montreal 2
Seattle 1 FINAL
Red Bull New York 4
D.C. 3 FINAL
Chicago 3
FC Dallas 1 FINAL
Los Angeles 2
Toronto 40 FINAL
Brt Columbia 23
Edmonton 23 FINAL
Hamilton 25
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Montreal
Ottawa 3:00 PM
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