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 signs center Cody Almond; Updated Wild depth chart

Posted by: Michael Russo under Wild off-season news Updated: July 8, 2014 - 8:07 AM

As blogged about Monday, the Wild has signed center Cody Almond to a one-year, $550,000 contract. It will likely be announced at some point today.

It's a one-way deal, meaning the soon-to-be 25-year-old center has a real good shot at making next season's roster.

Almond, a fifth-round pick by the Wild in 2007, scored two goals for the Wild in 25 games over parts of three seasons before playing the past two seasons in Geneva, Switzerland. Last year, he broke out offensively, scoring 18 goals and 34 points in 44 games with 75 penalty minutes.

The Wild still owned Almond's NHL rights because he didn't sign as a restricted free agent in 2012, so if he wanted to again chase his NHL dream, he had to start off by returning to the Wild.

Almond is a 6-foot-2, 217-pound, left-shot center who can play wing. He hits, plays with an edge, skates well and is solid defensively. Coach Mike Yeo knows him well from their time together with the Houston Aeros. Basically, he provides depth and returns to the NHL a more mature, finished product.

Last month, Almond had signed a five-year deal to stay with Geneve Servette. Obviously, that changed.

Here is Monday's blog on Almond if you want to read a couple previous articles I wrote on Almond. Real nice kid.

I would think the restricted free agent signings start trickling in. But the Wild is still in the market for a big defenseman who can clear the front of the net and add a little physicality. If you look at the free agents available, they're not exactly stellar. So my sense is GM Chuck Fletcher is trying to make a trade.

Maybe it happens soon, maybe it doesn't. There's no real rush with training camp still more than two months away (Sept. 18).

UPDATED WILD DEPTH CHART

Here’s a look at how the Wild is shaping up to look like next season. This will change throughout the summer as the Wild add and delete players.

Remember, at some point, the Wild’s expected to acquire a physical defenseman to replace Clayton Stoner.

The depth chart is my opinion. Obviously, lines change, roles change, etc. There are interchangeable parts, and as I mentioned, I’d expect at least another defenseman.

In parentheses, each player’s cap hits with some assistance from the web site, www.capgeek.com. The restricted free agents will get signed eventually.

Forwards

 

Left wing                         Center                          Right wing

 

Zach Parise ($7.5+M)       Mikael Granlund (900K)  Jason Pominville (5.6M)

 

Thomas Vanek ($6.5M)   Mikko Koivu (6.75M)     Charlie Coyle (900K)

 

Matt Cooke (2.5M)            Erik Haula (900K)           Nino Niederreiter (RFA)

 

Jason Zucker (RFA)          Kyle Brodziak (2.83 M)    Justin Fontaine (RFA)

 

Cody Almond (550K)

Vying for spots: Zucker, Almond, Stephane Veilleux (587,500), Brett Sutter ($600K), Michael Keranen (792,500), Joel Rechlicz (600K), Brett Bulmer (780K), Kurtis Gabriel (667K), Tyler Graovac (747,500), Zack Phillips ($863,333), Brady Brassart ($836,667), Raphael Bussieres ($759,167), Zack Mitchell (615K), Curt Gogol ($551,667).

Defensemen

 

Left Defense                     Right Defense

 

Ryan Suter (7.5+M)          Jared Spurgeon (2.66M)

 

Marco Scandella (1.025M) Jonas Brodin (1.4+M)

 

Keith Ballard (1.5M)          Christian Folin (925K)

 

Jon Blum (RFA)

Vying for spots: Folin, Blum, Stu Bickel (600K), Matt Dumba (894,167), Gustav Olofsson (795K), Guillaime Gelinas ($596,667), Colton Jobke ($551,667).

Goalies

 

Niklas Backstrom (3.42M)

Josh Harding (1.9M)

Darcy Kuemper (RFA)

 

* Kuemper can be sent to the minors without waivers even if he receives a one-way deal.

 

Vying for spots: Johan Gustafsson (665K).

  

Total cap hit roughly: $54,837,758.

 

Available cap space: $13.46 million roughly (I based this on a $68.3 million salary-cap ceiling; NHL salary cap next season is $69 million, but the Wild will be charged a bonus overage of a little less than $700,000). Note, the $13.46 million excludes re-signing restricted free agents. Also, always take the available cap space number and subtract a few million because GM Chuck Fletcher will always try to leave space for injury callups and in-season acquisitions.

 

 

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