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 exhibition schedule; Wild expected to sign Gelinas on July 1; Other Wild thoughts

Posted by: Michael Russo under On the road, Wild off-season news, Wild training camp Updated: June 18, 2014 - 2:16 PM

Good day from partly cloudy, mostly humid Minneapolis. Here's a Wild update:

1. Preseason schedule has been announced: Six-game schedule with home-and-homes (so to speak) with Winnipeg, Pittsburgh and St. Louis.

Training camp is expected to begin Sept. 18.

Sept. 22 at Winnipeg, 7 p.m.; Sept. 25 at Pittsburgh, 6 p.m.; Sept. 27 vs. Winnipeg, 7 p.m.; Sept. 29 vs. Pittsburgh, 7 p.m.; Oct. 2 at St. Louis, 7 p.m.; Oct. 4 vs. St. Louis, 7 p.m.

Tickets will go on sale later this summer.

My guess is the Wild then heads to Duluth on Oct. 5 for a few days of practice. Just conjecture, but it fits before the opener later that week and the Wild loves the facilities and ability to do some team bonding up in UMD Country.

2. Last I heard, the NHL plans to release all schedules Sunday. Weird day to do so, but that's always a fun day. As I mentioned the other day, no outdoor game this year. The league is scaling back to one stadium series game. Also, for a change, I heard the Wild's on the road New Year's Eve!

3. I plan to host a draft/free agency live chat on startribune.com next Friday (Round 1 is later that night). Time to be announced.

4. The Wild's expected to sign undrafted free agent defenseman Guillaume Gelinas on July 1. The signing was first reported (I believe) by TVA Sports in Quebec. It's a verbal commitment right now because as of June 1, there was a freeze for undrafted North American free agents (the Wild signed undrafted forwards Brady Brassart and Zack Mitchell in March) until July 1.

Gelinas, 21, was named the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League's best defenseman this past season after scoring 23 goals and 92 points in 67 games for Val-d'Or. He scored another 34 points in 24 playoff games for a team that lost the Memorial Cup to Edmonton.

Wild's trying to put an influx of skill on AHL Iowa after a very tough season in which the Baby Wild lacked skill, health and was probably too old.

Gelinas is skilled and competitive but 5-foot-10 and 185 pounds, so initially the AHL will be a decent step.

So, it's a flier.

Maybe Gelinas turns out to be Jared Spurgeon, who also had a terrific junior career (139 points in his last three years; harder to score in the W than the Q, so apples and oranges in terms of stats) before not being signed by the Islanders and then going untouched through another draft.

Maybe Gelinas turns out to be Michel Periard. Who? He's just a name that kind of jumped into my head because he was of similar stature and had similar stats in the Q (100 points his last year, I think) to Gelinas probably 15 years ago. Chuck Fletcher's Florida Panthers took a flier on him and he never played North American pro hockey beyond the A.

My point: Risk-free move, but let's be realistic with expectations. Maybe he turns out to be a player. Maybe he doesn't. When the Wild signed Spurgeon, I probably put a single line into the paper. Same thing with Brassart and Mitchell. Heck, when the Wild signed Niklas Backstrom as the first-ever European free agent under the previous CBA, I put a single paragraph. All he did was become the Wild's all-time goaltending leader in games and wins.

It's just hard to know with undrafted players until the Wild gets its grip on them and has a chance to develop them.

5. The salary cap is expected to be close to $70 million when it's announced next week. The Wild's will be a shade under after a slight bonus overage. Fletcher told me during the playoffs that Nino Niederreiter, Erik Haula and Jonas Brodin hit bonuses. Capgeek.come has it as Niederreiter and Haula earning each $212,500 for plus-minus and Brodin $425,000 for time on ice.

That's $825,000 in bonuses. But I'm told the Wild didn't go over the cap by that much, so the overage on next year's cap will be less. Either way, the overage shouldn't impact the Wild in its offseason business because Fletcher will always try to be at least $2 million or more under the cap so the team can make in-season injury callups and potential trades.

6. Lot of questions as to whether the Wild may pursue Cup champ Willie Mitchell in free agency. My guess: It makes sense if the Wild's unable to re-sign Clayton Stoner. Stoner and Mitchell seemingly would play the same role (third-pair, left-shot, physical D). As I mentioned last week, the Wild will try to re-sign Stoner, but maybe his solid postseason will allow him to cash in as a UFA more than the Wild's willing to commit. Stoner will have to decide that.

7. Some questions from you as to whether the Wild may pursue Shawn Thornton now that Boston's moving on from the rugged winger. I've heard through sources that the Wild would like to re-sign Cody McCormick, but Thornton is arguably a better, tougher player (more expensive, too), so maybe the Wild holds off on trying to sign McCormick just to see if it has a shot at Thornton. I don't see why there's a rush to re-sign McCormick, so if it were me, I'd wait to see what Thornton is thinking. I'm sure he'll have a lot of interest though.

Interesting dynamic to this year's draft. The free-agent interview period begins Wednesday. This is a new wrinkle thrown into this CBA where teams are allowed to court July 1 pending free agents, bring them to cities to check it out, etc. Well, the entire NHL will be in Philadelphia from Wednesday-Saturday night or Sunday morning, so one wonders if the draft becomes a free-agent recruiting party.

It certainly makes sense for agents to bring their free agents to Philly and line up meeting after meeting.

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Seattle
Detroit 25 2nd Qtr 4:40
Philadelphia 42
Portland 37 2nd Qtr 3:44
Cleveland 46
Sacramento 13 1st Qtr 4:00
Toronto 15
Boston 7:00 PM
Minnesota
Dallas 7:00 PM
Houston
Denver 7:00 PM
New Orleans
Brooklyn 7:00 PM
Atlanta
Oklahoma City 7:00 PM
New York
Charlotte 7:30 PM
San Antonio
LA Clippers 8:00 PM
Utah
Washington 9:30 PM
Phoenix
Toronto 0 1st Prd 12:22
New Jersey 0
Pittsburgh 7:00 PM
Washington
Chicago 9:30 PM
Los Angeles
Temple 37 2nd Half
UCF 18
Winthrop 35 2nd Half
Coastal Carolina 34
Lafayette 25 2nd Half
Colgate 32
Northeastern 29 2nd Half
Drexel 19
Wake Forest 33 2nd Half
Florida State 27
Rhode Island 26 1st Half 1:41
Fordham 31
Delaware 34 2nd Half
James Madison 40
South Carolina 28 2nd Half
LSU 29
New Hampshire 23 2nd Half
Maine 20
Seton Hall 32 2nd Half
Marquette 28
Binghamton 30 2nd Half
UMBC 24
American Univ 34 2nd Half
Navy 37
Elon 23 2nd Half
UNC-Wilmington 47
Wright State 33 2nd Half
Oakland 28
Minnesota 23 2nd Half
Penn State 33
Duquesne 27 2nd Half
Richmond 49
SMU 32 2nd Half
South Florida 25
Hartford 28 2nd Half
Stony Brook 25
Albany 25 2nd Half
Vermont 17
Hofstra 34 2nd Half
William & Mary 54
UNC-Asheville 37 2nd Half
Longwood 31
Radford 24 1st Half 10:30
Char Southern 14
Holy Cross 0 Postponed
Loyola-Maryland 0
Duke 18 1st Half 9:10
Notre Dame 25
Texas Tech 7 1st Half 9:46
Oklahoma 15
Oregon State 7:00 PM
Arizona State
Morehead State 7:00 PM
Austin Peay
Drake 7:00 PM
Bradley
Lehigh 7:00 PM
Bucknell
Rice 7:00 PM
Houston
Missouri State 7:00 PM
Illinois State
Loyola-Chicago 7:00 PM
Wichita State
Nebraska Omaha 7:00 PM
South Dakota St
Northern Iowa 7:05 PM
Southern Ill
Louisville 8:00 PM
Boston College
St Johns 8:00 PM
Creighton
East Carolina 8:00 PM
Memphis
Georgia Tech 8:00 PM
Miami-Florida
Miss State 8:00 PM
Ole Miss
Clemson 8:00 PM
NC State
Indiana 8:00 PM
Purdue
Kansas 8:00 PM
TCU
Oregon 9:00 PM
Arizona
Air Force 9:00 PM
San Jose St
Stanford 10:00 PM
Washington
Rider 56 FINAL
Siena 49
Dayton 76 FINAL
Richmond 62
Eastern Kentucky 53 FINAL
Jacksonville St 73
Saint Josephs 0 Postponed
Saint Louis 0
UMBC 32 2nd Half
Binghamton 31
Akron 23 2nd Half
Ohio U 32
Ball State 44 2nd Half
Miami-Ohio 17
Memphis 25 2nd Half
Cincinnati 22
East Carolina 18 1st Half 0:12
(2) Connecticut 47
Murray State 31 2nd Half
Eastern Illinois 33
Kent State 26 2nd Half
Central Michigan 35
UT Martin 40 2nd Half
Tennessee St 30
Eastern Michigan 33 2nd Half
Western Mich 42
Bucknell 32 2nd Half
Lehigh 32
Indiana 25 2nd Half
Michigan State 39
Colgate 42 2nd Half
Lafayette 19
Fordham 32 2nd Half
Davidson 32
Duquesne 32 2nd Half
St Bonaventure 24
George Mason 28 2nd Half
VA Commonwealth 34
Detroit 19 2nd Half
Youngstown St 35
Army 0 Postponed
Boston U 0
Loyola-Maryland 0 Postponed
Holy Cross 0
SMU 7:00 PM
Tulsa
Oklahoma St 7:00 PM
Kansas State
West Virginia 7:00 PM
Texas Tech
Denver 7:00 PM
South Dakota
Northwestern St 7:00 PM
Central Arkansas
Austin Peay 7:00 PM
SIU-Edwardsville
Kansas 7:00 PM
Iowa State
Bowling Green 7:00 PM
Northern Ill
Penn State 7:00 PM
Minnesota
San Jose St 8:00 PM
Air Force
Boise State 8:00 PM
Colorado State
Utah State 8:00 PM
Wyoming
San Diego State 9:00 PM
Fresno State
Nevada 9:00 PM
UNLV
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