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.

Also find Russo on Facebook.

Email Michael to talk about hockey.

Lots of Wild smatterings in Philly

Posted by: Michael Russo under Wild off-season news Updated: June 26, 2014 - 12:16 PM

Afternoon from Philly. It may always be sunny in Philadelphia, but apparently it’s always as humid as a sauna, too.

I interrupt this World Cup game with a friendly reminder and a Wild blog: I am hosting a live chat on startribune.com/wild at 11 a.m. CT Friday.

Hopefully you caught today’s stories, which included a fun look at Hall of Famer Guy Lapointe, the Wild’s chief amateur scout (new title a few years ago) who has been with the Wild since before the doors opened and is the team’s resident prankster. That link is here.

Also, every time I saw GM Chuck Fletcher yesterday, his phone was tattooed to his ear, even as late as early last night when I was walking past the hotel to head to dinner. As Fletcher has proven, the draft is the time he often likes to make trades, so it wouldn’t shock me if he makes something happen Friday.

The question is it something deemed as minor, like dealing Kyle Brodziak, who something deemed as major, like bringing in significant pieces that may even make him forgo some things in free agency.

As I reported in today’s story here, Fletcher did set up meetings in Philadelphia with Thomas Vanek’s agent, Steve Bartlett, and Matt Niskanen’s agent, Neil Sheehy, who helped deliver Ryan Suter to the Wild in 2012. Remember, it was at the St. Paul Airport where I was hiding in the bushes behind a fence (I wish I was exaggerating) and witnessed Fletcher, Craig Leipold, Mike Yeo, Suter’s financial advisor Tom Sagissor and Sheehy get off of Leipold’s private plane after meeting with Suter in Madison.

Leipold’s plane then gave Sheehy a ride back up to International Falls and about 18 hours later on July 4, Suter and Zach Parise were officially signed on the dotted line.

Well, perhaps Sheehy will soon ink another one of his clients on the Wild.

According to sources, the Wild has significant interest in Niskanen, 27, the right-shot defenseman who had a career year in Pittsburgh. But so do other teams, so it’ll be interesting to see how high and how long the Wild’s willing to go. Remember, you can only allegedly talk in general parameters about a contract but nothing can be binding until Tuesday after 11 a.m. CT. Niskanen is 100 percent going to become a free agent.

As for Vanek, he has made big money, so the question is how much does he want to play in Minnesota. I believe the Wild would love him to sign a contract between one to three years so it can also fill two holes.

As for these meetings with agents, it’ll either have to occur later tonight or before Friday’s draft because Fletcher and Leipold are up in New York because the NHL decided to have the Board of Governors meeting up there as opposed to in Philly. Brilliant! (Speaking of which, I talked to a number of execs this week who think the NHL should go to a baseball winter meetings type concept in the summer where in one city (maybe Vegas) it has the NHL Awards, NHL Draft, free-agency talking period and GM’s and Board of Governors meeting).

The Wild has called on Paul Stastny, but I’m trying to not get your hopes up because so has everybody and I haven’t gotten the impression yet that the Wild can be a serious suitor here. We shall see.

All of this is subject to change because plans can always be altered if Fletcher swings a trade Friday.

Also, going back to what I wrote about a few weeks ago, there’s price points the Wild’s willing to go to for each free agent. If things go beyond where the Wild values a player, it will likely not go beyond the price point because the Wild again has a bunch of key restricted free agents to re-sign this summer and next.

I also reported that the Wild has made contact with Willie Mitchell, the former Wild defenseman who has won two Cups with L.A. This is an indication that the team expects that Clayton Stoner may be departing via free agency. The Wild has made an offer to Stoner. He’s seeing if he can get a better contract as a free agent. That’s his right. Players like Stoner only have so many opportunities to cash in.

Mitchell makes sense. He would fill that same role, his wife is from Minnesota and he would definitely consider returning.

A few weeks ago when talking about Niskanen, I surmised that the Wild may instead go after an older veteran like Dan Boyle for two years because that could bridge the gap between now and the time Matt Dumba or Gustav Olofsson might be ready to jump full-time in the Wild lineup. I thought that was brilliant conjecture!!!

Well, I’m told the Wild, as of last night, had not made contact with Boyle’s camp.

What else? What else?

I wrote a big story on the Wild’s goaltending situation heading into next season for Friday’s paper. Give it a read. Some interesting quotes by Fletcher. Many mock drafts have the Wild taking Boston College goalie Thatcher Demko 18th overall, probably because of the Wild’s unstable goaltending situation. I’m expecting to talk to Demko later on at the prospect availability.

But, it’s not like Demko could solve any perceived short-term issue. He’s going back to BC for a few years at least and then would need to develop in the minors. I also spelled out in Friday’s paper with some examples as to why it’s a risk taking goalies in the first round.

The Wild sounds hesitant to take Demko unless it trades back. More than likely, Fletcher says, the Wild will look for a skilled forward.

I’m rooting for Joshua Ho-Sang because he sounds like a sports writer’s dream. Check out this awesome feature by Steve Simmons on Ho-Sang. Honestly, have you ever read cockier quotes? I love it.

Alex Tuch is somebody else that may be in the Wild’s wheelhouse (google him). Very big forward and the Wild could use some more size up front.

I'll be back later if there's news, of course. I'm also hoping to get with Fletcher after he returns from New York tonight and a few other NHL peeps.

Anyway, that’s it for now. Lots of trade chatter going around the NHL on Evander Kane, Jason Spezza, Ryan Kesler, Nick Leddy, P.A. Parenteau, etc.


New England 2/1/15 5:30 PM
Portland 0 Postponed
Brooklyn 0
Sacramento 0 Postponed
New York 0
Philadelphia 74 FINAL
New Orleans 99
Minnesota 84 FINAL
Oklahoma City 92
Orlando 94 FINAL
Memphis 103
Boston 99 FINAL
Utah 90
Denver 98 FINAL
LA Clippers 102
Army 68 FINAL
American Univ 66
Wright State 64 FINAL
Detroit 53
Syracuse 83 FINAL
North Carolina 93
Cleveland State 56 FINAL
Oakland 59
Delaware State 54 FINAL
NC Central 55
High Point 63 FINAL
Presbyterian 54
Howard 45 FINAL
Bethune-Cookman 42
Coppin State 84 FINAL
NC A&T 71
Nicholls 51 FINAL
Northwestern St 80
Hampton 56 FINAL
SC State 65
Gardner-Webb 59 FINAL
Campbell 78
MD-Eastern Shore 72 FINAL
Florida A&M 65
Stephen F Austin 82 FINAL
Lamar 65
Central Arkansas 67 FINAL
New Orleans 87
Norfolk State 70 FINAL
Savannah State 54
SE Louisiana 61
Sam Houston St 80 FINAL
Abilene Christian 63
McNeese State 84 FINAL
Incarnate Word 86
Milwaukee 48 FINAL
Valparaiso 73
Alcorn State 66 FINAL
Alabama A&M 78
Southern U 59 FINAL
Alabama State 63
Prairie View 68 FINAL
Ark-Pine Bluff 105
Texas 86 FINAL
Iowa State 89
Texas Southern 85 FINAL
Miss Valley St 84
Long Island 85 FINAL
Bryant 88
Central Conn St 51 FINAL
St Francis-NY 49
Fairleigh Dickinson 0 Postponed
Sacred Heart 0
St Francis-PA 87 FINAL
Wagner 74
Delaware State 59 FINAL
NC Central 66
Howard 53 FINAL
Bethune-Cookman 61
Coppin State 49 FINAL
NC A&T 67
Hampton 88 FINAL
SC State 53
Norfolk State 54 FINAL
Savannah State 56
MD-Eastern Shore 54 FINAL
Florida A&M 64
Angelo State 55 FINAL
Abilene Christian 70
Samford 32 FINAL
(25) Chattanooga 49
Prairie View 83 FINAL
Ark-Pine Bluff 66
Alcorn State 58 FINAL
Alabama A&M 55
Southern U 53 FINAL
Alabama State 49
Texas Southern 63 FINAL
Miss Valley St 52
(12) Texas A&M 61 FINAL
(1) South Carolina 79
Robert Morris 68 FINAL
Mount St Marys 44
East Tenn St 72 FINAL
Mercer 70
Wofford 56 FINAL
Furman 58
Morehead St 64 FINAL
Tenn Tech 54
Illinois 57 FINAL
Michigan 70
Quinnipiac 0 Postponed
Manhattan 0
Saint Peters 0 Postponed
Rider 0
(18) Miss State 59 FINAL
Auburn 48
(15) Nebraska 72 FINAL
(20) Iowa 78
Connect with twitterConnect with facebookConnect with Google+Connect with PinterestConnect with PinterestConnect with RssfeedConnect with email newsletters





question of the day

Poll: Does a Stadium Series outdoor Wild game get you excited?

Weekly Question