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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Mikko Koivu Extra; Prosser, Kassian re-signed

Posted by: Michael Russo under Wild off-season news Updated: June 30, 2010 - 10:23 AM

UPDATE: Defenseman Nate Prosser has re-signed for one-year, $650,000. It's a two-way deal. He'll make $105,000 if he's in the minors. Remember, even though he signed so late last season out of college, because of his age, he had to sign only a one-year deal. That 105K is more than he normally would have gotten, but it was given to drop his NHL salary down. Whether Prosser makes the team or not, he should definitely get some games next season when there's injuries. As I've said before, I know he only played three games, but he's closer to the NHL than even the Wild thought at the time of signing.

Also, Matt Kassian's re-upped as well. Two-year deal worth 500K/60 and 525K/65, I believe.

I'll be on ESPN 1500 at 6:20 p.m.

For some reason this didn't post last night, so here you go:

Good evening from Minneapolis. Sorry for the late blog, but I was out watching the College World Series with a friend.

Whit Merrifield is a South Carolina hero this morning.

Now I'm watching Columbus play-by-play man Jeff Rimer's buddy Larry King, who's leaving Larry King Live! Maybe Rims can take it over the way King handed off his job in Washington to Rimer many years ago.

Funny story, but I'm at work today actually working for the first time in years. Phil Miller was sitting at "my desk," even though it's really a vacant desk, so I sat at the next desk over. Phil starts telling me how my phone rang a week or so ago and it was a guy looking to get in touch with me to tell me I know nothing and am an idiot.

Hey, tell me something I don't know.

I start telling Phil how in almost 5 years at the paper, I have never actually answered my phone. I've never actually listened to my voicemail. I don't know my extension. I don't know my voicemail password.

Anyhoo, fast forward two or three hours, I'm walking out the door, the phone rings, Phil answers and it's ... Sean Hill trying to contact me. Two minutes later, and I miss the call. Hill, the former Wild defenseman, just moved to Phoenix to start a new business. So it was good to catch up. 

But now I wonder how many other important calls I've missed or how many people out there who hate my guts because I never returned their call. I assure you I never received it, and calling me at the paper is not the best way to get in touch with me.

Anyway, if you read the paper, I talked with Mikko Koivu Tuesday morning about his thoughts heading into negotiations over a contract extension, the potential of his brother having second thoughts and signing as free agent in Minnesota and rehab over two operations he had performed in April.

The negotiation article is here.

The Mikko-Saku short is here.

I couldn't squeeze everything into the story, specifically about the injuries, which weren't reported on thoroughly before the surgeries.

But Mikko said the knee injury occurred in late November or early December last season and the shoulder occurred in January at St. Louis.

He said the knee was minor and 100 percent, but the shoulder was fairly major and more severe than they originally thought once they got in and looked at it. He said he can't explain exactly what was wrong in English because it was a Finnish doctor did the surgery and his English is out of practice.

"We knew at Christmas what was wrong with my knee. Basically the next morning after games, it was stiff and swollen, but the reason we didn't [operate then] was the Olympics were getting close and we didn't know how long it would be to recover. Basically it was my call. It didn't bother me that much playing hockey and we were getting wins as a team and getting close to a playoff spot, so I didn't see any reason why not to wait until after the season. I didn't want to miss games. Same thing with the shoulder."

As for the rehab, he says the knee is 100 percent and he's running again. He said the shoulder is a little ahead of schedule, he needs to be patient with it and there's still a lot of time before training camp. Brent Burns and Derek Boogaard had similar surgeries after the 2008-09 season and both were back in plenty of time for the start of this past season.

Koivu goes to the gym for rehab five or six days a week and takes Sunday off. On the following Monday, he says he notices huge differences from the week before just because of the one day to rest it.

More on re-signing, and let me remind you again, as optimistic as he is in the story and even though he said all the right things, this is a business and I'm sure it'll take some time.
 
Koivu said, “I think we know what it takes to make the playoffs, and as the [Flyers] showed this year being in the eighth spot in the East and making the conference finals, as long as you make it there, anything can happen.
  
"The first thing is you look at the group that we have. Winning teams need good goaltending, and on that we have one of the best in the league. That’s the best way to build the team -- good goaltending. The way I see it, the core group of guys we have, a couple years in the league, some have more or less, but we all know what it takes to play in this league, to play 82 games as team.
 
"I know we don't have a lot of playoff experience, but we still know what it takes to make the playoffs, 
 
"I am confident we can be a wininng team, and obviously sooner the better. But if we make the playoffs, we have a real chance to win something. Probably the biggest thing in Minnesota is the fans. It's such a big thing for me to play in front of that group and all those people and how proud they are and how they love hockey. As players we have to understand how good they are. I mean, we appreciate it, but [we can't take it for granted.] It's something you don’t realize before you play there."
 
As for Saku signing in Minnesota, I still think it's a longshot. As I wrote in that column this past Sunday, if the Koivu's want it to happen, I'm sure it'll be pretty simple for it to happen. But they'd have to drive it, and I just DON'T (forgot a key word there) know if they'll drive it.

Among many reasons, Saku doesn't want to get in Mikko's way. But this is Mikko’s team. Asked if another year of proof of that may change their thinking this time around, Mikko said, “We’ll see. It’ll be interesting to see that. I’m sure when the time comes we’ll talk about it. They have to make a decision, and if I can help it some way, I will and we’ll go from there.”

We will see.

OK, free agency starts at 11 a.m. Thursday. I'm heading to work Wednesday to do an online video with my esteemed editor Mark Wollemann. I'm sure I'll toss on a fresher blog Wednesday. There could be some news. Wild's getting closer to signing some of their two-way contract guys like Nate Prosser, who's getting married this weekend.

Talk to you Wednesday.

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