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's development comes to a close

Posted by: Michael Russo under Wild off-season news Updated: July 18, 2010 - 2:44 PM

Good afternoon from the Cities, where the Wild's summer development comes to a close tonight with a team dinner. No more on-ice activities though as the white team redeemed itself from yesterday's loss by edging the green team 3-1 in a scrimmage in front of a few thousand Wild fans at the X.

Bemidji State's Matt Read, Brandon Buck and Eden Prairie's Chad Rau scored the goals for the white team, while Cody Almond scored his third goal in two days for the green team. German goalie Dennis Endras was outstanding with 30 minutes of shutout hockey.

Fun shootout followed, with the nicest move coming from 2009 sixth-rounder Jere Sallinen. Erik Haula, a 2009 seventh-rounder, also had a nifty shootout move, but after a beautiful deke, he rang it off the crossbar. Jarod Palmer had the most inventive shootout goal, swinging and missing on a Brian Rolston-like slapper. But instead of giving up on the puck, he scooped it up, faked and roofed a backhander.

I was right there. He did not swing and miss on purpose. He whiffed.

Marco Scandella missed both scrimmages with tendinitis in his ankle, but he should be fine by Traverse City's prospect camp in September.

Brett Bulmer, a 2010 second-rounder, was the most physical. At least he got under the most people's skin. The eventual power winger (the Wild hope) got into it with Tyler Cuma, then had a back-and-forth physical clash with Maxim Noreau.

J.T. Barnett looked good to me again. He's an invitee from Vancouver (WHL), where he scored 21 goals last year as a third-liner. Mike Barnett's son was the youngest guy on the ice during camp, not turning 18 until August 21. He wasn't drafted last month, so technically he could be signed by anybody as a free agent until September and still returned to junior -- similar to the way the Wild signed Bjorn Krupp last summer. It's uncertain if the Wild's interested. I've got them with 45 contracts right now out of a maximum 50, and I'm sure they want to leave some slots open in case they make any more NHL moves or go after college free agents, like Justin Fontaine or Matt Read, next spring.

So I'm not sure they'd sign Barnett now even if they're interested. He is draft eligible two more times, too.

Caught up with a bunch of players afterward. Cuma's jacked up and healthy, Newlywed Nate Prosser looks ready to make a run for a roster spot. Casey Wellman had a terrific two scrimmages. Got to meet new Houston coach Mike Yeo and catch up with Todd Richards, who looks reinvigorated for Year 2.

Goalie coach Bob Mason was on his way to Buffalo, where he'll drive two hours north to meet up with former Wild goalie Dwayne Roloson to run their second goalie camp of the summer. The other one was at Augsburg College here in Minneapolis.

Also spent the intermission chatting it up with agents Neil Sheehy and Paul Ostby. They're advising Fontaine and Read, and have Prosser, Rau and Barnett as clients. Some of their top NHL clients include Lubomir Visnovsky, Kyle Okposo, Ryan Suter and Drew Stafford.

OK, that's it for me -- maybe for some time. I am taking some time off, and even though I always say this and it never comes to fruition, I'll probably be off the blog for awhile and hand the keys to Kent Youngblood. This time I mean it.

Maybe.

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