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 Jordan Schroeder, re-signs Jon Blum

Posted by: Michael Russo under Wild off-season news Updated: July 12, 2014 - 10:54 AM

Late blog on this news, so hopefully you caught it in today's paper or last night on Twitter, BUT if you still don't know, the Wild signed former Gophers forward Jordan Schroeder, the pride of St. Thomas Academy, to a two-year, two-way deal last night and re-signed defenseman Jon Blum to a one-year, two-way deal. That leaves Nino Niederreiter, Darcy Kuemper, Justin Fontaine and Jason Zucker as the so-far unsigned restricted free agents.

Remember, two-way deals mean they have separate NHL and AHL salaries. In their cases, both would have to clear through waivers to get to Iowa.

Back in 2009, there was a debate among many Wild fans as to which local product the Wild should take in the first round -- Schroeder or Nick Leddy. Remember, back then when GM Chuck Fletcher took over, the Wild had a history of possessing few hometown kids and few college players much to the chagrin of many Wild fans (A LOT has changed since).

The Wild ended up trading down four spots and taking Leddy at 16th overall. Schroeder went six picks later to the Vancouver Canucks.

Of course, less than a year later, Leddy was dealt to Chicago and now five years later Schroeder is ironically property of the Wild.

These days, Schroeder is 23 and wasn't tendered a qualifying offer by the Canucks last month. That made him an unrestricted free agent.

In 56 NHL games, the 5-foot-9 forward scored six goals and 15 points, collecting six points in 25 games last season. In 192 AHL games, Schroeder has scored 47 goals and 115 points. In two years with the Gophers, Schroeder scored 22 goals and 73 points in 72 games, was the WCHA Rookie of the Year in 2009 and he was one of the Minnesotans that won gold at the 2010 world juniors.

Frankly, last year, the Iowa Wild was terrible. In reaction, the Wild has completely overhauled the Baby Wild for next season and has tried to specifically add skill, grit and in a byproduct more depth for the big Wild.

Every single Iowa player who had an expiring contract there has been let go (excluding Blum, who finished the season with the NHL Wild and could make the team next season and Zucker, who will soon re-sign with the Wild and split games last season with the NHL Wild and Baby Wild before he sustained a season-ending knee injury).

Since free agency, potentially Iowa-bound players signed include Schroeder, Michael Keranen (Wild will really give this guy a good look in camp), Brett Sutter, Stu Bickel, Guillaume Gelinas and Joel Rechlicz. Also, Brady Brassart and Zack Mitchell were signed in the springtime and guys like Matt Dumba, Gustav Olofsson and Kurtis Gabriel are officially turning pro.

Theoretically, if Cody Almond is beat out in training camp by one of the aforementioned forwards, he can be assigned to Iowa. Teams typically don't like to send down guys on one-way contracts because, in the case of Almond, you'd have to pay a player $550,000 to play in the minors. But, the Wild has done that before, including last year with Jake Dowell.

The Wild still is expected to sign another goalie to a two-way contract soon to play with Johan Gustafsson.

Also, Schroeder is not yet deemed an AHL "vet," so the Wild can still sign one so-called "veteran" to a two-way for Iowa. I believe the Wild would still like to add another defenseman with NHL experience to play in Iowa or at least battle for a roster spot with guys like Blum, Dumba and Christian Folin.

As for Blum, he tallied an assist in 15 games for the Wild last season and I thought was real good down the stretch. He didn't play a single playoff game, however, because Clayton Stoner returned from injury in time for Game 1 against Colorado.

Blum, 25, who was taken 23rd overall by the Predators in 2007, has played 106 NHL games between Nashville and Minnesota.

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), Jordan Schroeder, 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

Vying for spots: Folin, Blum, Stu Bickel (600K), Matt Dumba (894,167), Gustav Olofsson (795K), Guillaume 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 the re-signing of restricted free agents and Blum. 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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