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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Talking #mnwild roster, goalie situation

Posted by: Michael Russo under Wild training camp Updated: September 28, 2010 - 8:53 AM

Coming to you from beautiful Columbus, home of Rick Nash and Jeff Rimer.  

Just wanted to check in because I gave you an on-the-fly, makeshift, hustle-it-out blog yesterday.

First here are the articles:

1. A bit of a scene setter on the roster cuts yesterday and how it's done, as well as "The time is now" edict from GM Chuck Fletcher. No more excuses: 1st loss was that the Wild didn't scrimmage as much and didn't practice special teams. 2nd loss was that they brought only 8 vets to St. Louis and took penalty after penalty. 3rd loss, they played quite well. 4th loss, they got to bed at 4 a.m. and played five scared-to-death rookie D that were playing chip-it-out of the zone, which ruined any semblance of offensive attack (5 shots thru 2 periods).

Now, the Wild's basically playing its team tonight and Thursday against Columbus. Fletcher says it's time to ratchet it up and for players to get their act together. If they don't, remember the, "We're all out of coffee," scene from Airplane?

Duplicate it.

2. Second article is here. The notebook filled with Jose Theodore, Pierre-Marc Bouchard practicing and great quotes from Matt Kassian and Justin Falk.

I talked to agent Don Meehan after I landed here in Columbus early yesterday evening, and he said he's spoken to GM Chuck Fletcher about Theodore, simply because his firm also represents Josh Harding. He wouldn't classify the conversations as the Wild officially expressing interest though. He just said they might be interested, and if the Wild is, Theodore would be.

The most intriguing thing Meehan said was that Fletcher told him, "Look, I've got to make a move," and it has become abundantly clear that Fletcher won't specifically give Anton Khudobin a vote of confidence as the No. 2. I don't think that's necessarily because he's not confident in Khudobin. I think Fletcher just knows now is the time that several goalies are available in the NHL, so he doesn't want to say something specific like that, then all of a sudden a goalie pops up, he makes a move and he looks like he fibbed.

The reality is, the Wild does have to make a move, whether it's getting somebody for up here and putting Khudobin back in the minors or adding a quality No. 3 to Houston to work with youngster Matt Hackett, who needs to stick in Houston, play and develop his game.

The reason why so many goalies are available this time of year is because many teams have three or four goalies in camp, of which one or two require waivers to get to the minors. So Fletcher could likely make a minor trade for a goalie or just claim one off waivers.

As for Theodore, I think he'll be too expensive because the Wild is getting extremely close to the cap ceiling. They were 1.9ish million away, but that was before their new 3rd goalie will be on the books, their seventh defenseman and their 13th forward. So they're pushing the cap. Harding will likely wind up on LTIR, which will allow them to spend his salary over the cap. This is another reason why I think James Sheppard will ultimately wind up suspended. The Wild just cannot afford his cap hit.

Unless Theodore's willing to come here at 550 or 750, there's a lot of goalies out there the Wild could pick up as a No. 2 that are cheaper, like Marty Gerber or Jeff Deslauriers or Tomas Greiss or Erik Ersberg. There's so many out there, honestly, it's like trying to shoot a fly.

I think Deslauriers is somebody who'd intrigue them. Greiss is somebody I watched in August and September because he skated in the Octagon camp in St. Louis Park. Ironically, remember that picture I shot of Harding walking off the ice at Octagon earlier this month? The conversation that ensued was about Greiss. Harding was a fan.  

But, I don't get the sense the Wild's interested in Greiss. Manny Legace's in Islanders camp, and you can bet the Wild will watch the 37-year-old. I covered his NHL debut by the way. 1-1 tie vs. Florida. I think he made like 50 saves.

Anyway, we'll see. I'd suspect something happens. I'd think if they pick up a goalie, they'd want him on that charter for Helsinki.

You know what's amazing? Fletcher's been waiting for a Harding-like injury to happen to another team for 14 months so he could dangle the kid out there. A Harding-like injury finally happens, and it's too Harding, and now it's the Wild looking for a goalie. Oh, those cruel Hockey Gods!

Again, as for the roster yesterday, the five youngsters staying, it doesn't mean they've made the team:

1) Fletcher could still add players via trade or waivers, so that could affect the kids.

2) The Wild's at 25 healthy bodies before these final two exhibition games, so that means at least two more cuts will have to come. Fletcher said one defenseman will likely be cut here in the States, and one, maybe two more will be cut in Finland.

Okie, dokie. Wild is skating this morning back in St. Paul, then arriving here in Columbus at 4 p.m. So next blog from me will be tonight unless somebody newsworthy happens.

I'll be hopping on the Team 1040 in Vancouver with Ray Ferraro at 9:15 a.m. CT and the Team 1260 in Edmonton at 5:25 p.m. CT. I'll also be on CKNW in Vancouver at some point tonight.

I'll take overexposure for a thousand, Alex.

 

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