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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Initial cuts look good for Wellman, Kassian, Falk, bad for Earl, Prosser; Bouchard practicing

Posted by: Michael Russo under Wild training camp Updated: September 27, 2010 - 3:34 PM

(updated again): Flight cancelled. That should create a big laugh among the media and Wild staff, who saw me running around with my head cut off as I jammed in everything this morning so I could get out of dodge, barely make my flight and write on the plane.

Good news is Compass Airlines has picked up the flight, and I'll be leaving soon enough.

Just a couple housecleaning items I want to make clear: Wild's at 25 healthy bodies when you take away Bouchard, Harding and Sheppard. That means at least two more cuts. Barring injuries in the final two exhibition games, one cut will be a defenseman will occur here and at least one cut in Finland. The Wild would be allowed to keep the Finnish cut(s) in Finland for the games and have them fly back with the team.

If I had to guess, barring injury, Bagnall goes down here and Marco Scandella comes to Europe. He's the top blue-line prospect in the organization, so I think the Wild would love to give him that experience. I think Justin Falk makes the final-7 defensemen, and frankly, he might move into the top-6 if Clayton Stoner doesn't get his game together.

I think Casey Wellman's definitely on the team -- barring some kind of trade or signing, which is always possible. Great quotes from the locker room, especially Matt Kassian, who was riding high. Again, not a guarantee he'll be on the final roster submitted to the league Oct. 6, but after six camps, this was a proud moment for the tough customer. GM Chuck Fletcher praised his camp, as well as the others who made the team and Nate Prosser and Tyler Cuma.

Also, Bouchard practiced today, came away from it feeling good and he'll be travelling to Finland to practice with the team. But I still don't think he'll be ready by opening night.

Again, as I wrote on the previous blog, big, critical week for the Wild. No more excuses of the half kids, half vets in games. Tuesday and Thursday, the Wild is playing, and it better get its act together .

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(updated) Good morning from a busy X, where Brad Bombardir is the grim reaper today.

He's the guy grabbing players for the dooms day meeting with management and the coaches.

Here's the guys staying for now. It doesn't mean they've made the team, but it could be that they're coming to Finland because the Wild will bring extras in case of injury:

Fwds staying: Casey Wellman, Matt Kassian

Defensemen staying: Justin Falk, Drew Bagnall, Marco Scandella. Right now there's nine D left, probably because Cam Barker's got a hip injury. We'll find out the status. Wild wants to bring 14 forwards and eight defensemen to Finland, which means Wellman and Kassian should be on the trip.

Big names sent down: Robbie Earl, Cody Almond, Nate Prosser, Colton Gillies, Tyler Cuma, Maxim Noreau.

Official demotions: Forwards Cody Almond, Colton Gillies, Carson McMillan and Chad Rau, defensemen Nate Prosser, Tyler Cuma, Maxim Noreau and Jared Spurgeon and goalie Matt Hackett.

Robbie Earl, Petr Kalus, Warren Peters and Jon DiSalvatore are on waivers and will be demoted Tuesday if unclaimed. Defenseman Jamie Fraser cleared waivers Monday.

That brings the roster to 28 -- five more than the max, but that includes Bouchard, Harding, Sheppard. Wild can bring extras to Finland, but they have to get to 23 by opening nights.

Earl's obviously the big surprise, but this has to do in my opinion (haven't gotten the GM yet) -- 1) Wasn't his normal self in the two exhibition games I watched; 2) Kassian's reward for a great camp; 3) Wellman looks like he belongs. He brings speed and offense this team needs. I think he's by far been the best young kid, and obviously this hasn't been a good training camp for the team. I think they believe he'll help. We'll see

Earl was disappointed, but he handled it professional. Same with Prosser. Gillies was the biggest difference from last year. Last year, he welled up at the shock, having played on the team the year before. This year, he's "pumped."

In other news, Pierre-Marc Bouchard is practicing today for the first time since last October. I'll try to be back, but I'm not positive. I'm barely going to make my afternoon flight to Columbus, so I may need to check back in tonight.

In other news, sources say Jamie Fraser cleared waivers and Earl, Jon DiSalvatore, Petr Kalus and Warren Peters are on waivers.

Lastly, here's a snapshot of injured James Sheppard (front) and Josh Harding crutching out of the arena.

 

 

 

Nine guys officially sent down are Cody Almond, Colton Gillies, Carson McMillan and Chad Rau, defensemen Nate Prosser, Tyler Cuma, Maxim Noreau and Jared Spurgeon and goalie Matt Hackett.

Robbie Earl, Petr Kalus, Warren Peters and Jon DiSalvatore are on waivers and will be demoted Tuesday if unclaimed. Defenseman Jamie Fraser cleared waivers Monday.
 
So that's 14 gone. Gets roster to 28, but that includes injured Bouchard, Harding and Sheppard. Max roster is 23. Wild can bring extras to Finland, but they have to get down to 23 by opening night.

 

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