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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#mnwild smatterings; Traverse City prospect tournament Wild schedule

Posted by: Michael Russo under Wild off-season news Updated: July 28, 2010 - 11:37 AM

Good day from beautiful Minneapolis. Long time, no speak.

Things are quiet now. About the only thing going on with the Wild is coach Todd Richards and GM Chuck Fletcher wrapping up the team's search for an assistant coach. It's close. I still am told by good sources that Rick Wilson and Kurt Kleinendorst are two of the finalists, but we will find out the identity of the assistant hopefully very soon.

Next month, there's a chance the team hires a third assistant, which I'm hearing will almost be like a part-time assistant. Some candidates include Darby Hendrickson, Wes Walz and perhaps even Phil Housley (although I have no confirmation on Housley; I do on the first two beloved former Wild players). I don't think the team has decided the title of the job (or if it'll hire this person or another scout instead), but the eventual hire (if there is a hire) will likely not travel.

The scouts are working. For instance, assistant GM Brent Flahr will be scouting this weekend's and next week's Under-18 Canada selection camp in Calgary. It's a good chance to scout 42 players eligible for the 2011 NHL draft that will be here in Minnesota.

I don't anticipate any huge news in the next little while. Typically, you can't even get NHL GM's on the phone in August. Pretty much, August is time for the NHL to go to sleep.

I still think the Wild may eventually be in the market for another defenseman, although I'll be honest, this is just my opinion of what they need. I believe there's been contact with a few defensemen like Willie Mitchell, but it could just be tire kicking for now. As for Mitchell, he's recovered from his concussion and still plans to play somewhere, but he's being patient until he feels fully comfortable to expend the energy he'll need to take physicals with a few teams.

As for Mike Modano, I don't think a meeting's been set up yet with Minnesota, and the Wild has said all along it would want Modano to make the decision to play first before it meets with him. I've talked with a couple people who know Modano extremely well, and they don't believe at all Modano's signing in Minnesota anyway. They believe it's Detroit or retirement all the way, and like I said, these people know Modano very well.

HIFK Helsinki put out a cool tweet today. Wild goalie Niklas Backstrom has been training with his old Finnish Elite League team, HIFK. Here's a picture. I'm not sure if that link will be open to everybody or if you need to have a Facebook account to be able to open the link. If you want to see it badly enough, open a Facebook account, and while you're there, "like" www.facebook.com/startribunemikerusso -- even if you "hate" me  

Wild 2010 first-rounder Mikael Granlund plays for HIFK, and when the Wild heads to Finland for its Oct. 1-8 trip, it'll get a chance to see Granlund play a few games. I don't claim to have mastered the Finnish language (although I'd love to understand what the heck Koivu, Miettinen and Backstrom are always blabbering about), but by looking at HIFK's web site, it appears Granlund has three games while the Wild's there. Also, because Granlund plays in Helsinki, you can bet the Wild would love to get permission for him to skate with the team a few days or at least get to hang around the team and attend the second game vs. Carolina Oct. 8 (he has a game the 7th).

Lastly, the Wild's roster for the Traverse City prospect camp will be released in late August, but the schedule for the Sept. 11-15 camp at Centre Ice Arena was sent out this morning by the Wild.

If you plan to go, and I know some Wild fans have in the past, the Wild's in the Gretzky Conference (as opposed to Howe) and plays Carolina at 3 p.m. Sept. 11, Columbus at 2 p.m. on Sept. 12 and the Rangers at 3:30 p.m. on Sept. 14. All the championship and consolation games will be Sept. 15. Also in the prospect tournament/camp is Dallas, Detroit, St. Louis and Tampa Bay.

Good day and good luck.

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