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.

Also find Russo on Facebook.

Email Michael to talk about hockey.

Posts about Wild news

Minnesota Wild's Traverse City prospects tournament roster

Posted by: Michael Russo Updated: August 28, 2014 - 10:58 AM

Wild players report for physicals and fitness testing Sept. 18 with camp officially opening on the ice Sept. 19, but as always, the Wild will take part in a prospects tournament in Traverse City, Mich.

The information and roster is below.

If you missed yesterday's Q and A with Wild coach Mike Yeo at the Star Tribune booth at the State Fair, here is a replay. Good primer for training camp.

I will also be at the State Fair KFAN booth with Paul Allen on Friday starting at 9:55 a.m. talking Wild.


MINNESOTA WILD TO PARTICIPATE IN 2014 NHL PROSPECTS TOURNAMENT IN TRAVERSE CITY, MICHIGAN, SEPTEMBER 12-16
 
    SAINT PAUL, Minn. – Minnesota Wild General Manager Chuck Fletcher today announced the National Hockey League (NHL) club will participate in the 2014 NHL Prospects Tournament in Traverse City, Mich., Sept. 12-16. Wild prospects will compete in the tournament’s Gordie Howe Division with the Columbus Blue Jackets, Detroit Red Wings and St. Louis Blues. The Buffalo Sabres, Carolina Hurricanes, Dallas Stars and New York Rangers will play in the Ted Lindsay Division.
 
    Minnesota’s roster features a total of 12 Wild draft picks: G Alexandre Belanger (2013, 7th round), LW Raphael Bussieres (2012, 2nd round), C Reid Duke (2014, 6th round), D Matt Dumba (2012, 1st round), D Tanner Faith (2014, 5th round), RW Kurtis Gabriel (2013, 3rd round), C Tyler Graovac (2011, 7th round), G Johan Gustafsson (2010, 6th round), RW Pavel Jenys (2014, 7th round), D Dylan Labbe (2013, 4th round), C Chase Lang (2014, 6th round) and D Gustav Olofsson (2013, 2nd round) along with four free agents signed during the 2013-14 season: C Brady Brassart, D Christian Folin, D Guillaume Gelinas and RW Zack Mitchell. Iowa Wild Head Coach Kurt Kleinendorst and Assistant Coach Steve Poapst will lead the Wild prospects.
 
    Fans can visit www.wild.com for tournament updates including reports from Assistant General Manager Brent Flahr. Minnesota is set to open its 2014 Training Camp presented by Andersen Windows on Friday, Sept. 19. A complete training camp schedule and roster will be announced prior to the start of training camp. 
 
2014 MINNESOTA WILD TRAVERSE CITY PROSPECTS TOURNAMENT ROSTER 
FORWARDS                  HT     WT    SHOOTS   BORN     BIRTHPLACE                    2013-14 TEAM   LGE          GP   G     A     PTS   PIM                                        ACQ
82 Olivier Archambault   6-0     190    Left            2/16/93    Le Gardeur, Quebec             Quebec                QMJHL      38    19    27    46      37                                        INVITEE
80 Jessey Astles              6-2     205    Left            6/4/93      Coquitlam, British Columbia                            Tri-City      WHL        50    11      9          20                                        67      INVITEE
62 Brady Brassart            6-2     196    Right          6/15/93    Vernon, British Columbia    Calgary                WHL          70    35    50    85      94                                        FA/14
49 Raphael Bussieres       6-1     198    Left            11/5/93    Longueuil, Quebec               Iowa                    AHL          61    5      14    19      51                                        EN/12
75 Reid Duke                   6-0     189    Right          1/28/96    Calgary, Alberta                   Lethbridge           WHL          62    15    25    40      91                                        EN/14
53 Tyler Graovac             6-4     205    Left            4/27/93    Brampton, Ontario               Iowa                    AHL          64    13    12    25      29                                        EN/11
63 Kurtis Gabriel             6-4     214    Right          4/20/93    New Market, Ontario           Owen Sound        OHL          60    16    35    51      99                                        EN/13
47 Reid Gardiner             5-11   185    Right          1/19/96    Humboldt, Saskatchewan     Prince Albert        WHL          70    22    22    44      39                                        INVITEE
57 Ryan Graham              6-2     205    Left            5/6/96      Calgary, Alberta                   Saskatoon            WHL          70    15    8      23      37                                        INVITEE
81 Pavel Jenys                 6-2     198    Left            4/2/96      Brno, Czech Republic          Brno                    Czech         29    2      0      2        4                                        EN/14         
76 Chase Lang                 6-1     182    Right          9/13/96    Nanaimo, British Columbia  Calgary                WHL          68    10    15    25      52                                        EN/14
59 Zack Mitchell              6-0     184    Right          1/7/93      Caledon, Ontario                  Guelph                 OHL          67    31    52    83      40                                        FA/14
67 Andrew Ryan              6-3     202    Left            1/15/94    St. John’s Newfoundland     Halifax                 QMJHL      56    27    28    55      52                                        INVITEE
71 Ryan Walters              6-0     190    Left            7/30/91    Rosemount, Minnesota        Nebraska-Omaha NCHC        34    6      24    30      16                                        INVITEE
DEFENSEMEN               HT     WT    SHOOTS   BORN     BIRTHPLACE                    2013-14 TEAM   LGE          GP   G     A     PTS   PIM                                        ACQ
55 Matt Dumba                6-0     183    Right          7/25/94    Regina, Saskatchewan          Minnesota            NHL          13    1      1      2        2                                        EN/12
                                                                                                                                          Portland               WHL          26    8      16    24      37
73 Tanner Faith               6-3     211    Right          10/5/95    Terrace, British Columbia    Kootenay             WHL          10    0      1      1        9                                        EN/14
5 Christian Folin              6-3     210    Right          2/9/91      Gothenburg, Sweden            UMass-Lowell     HE             41    6      14    20      31                                        FA/14
34 Guillaume Gelinas      5-10   185    Left            6/14/93    Quebec City, Quebec           Val d’Or              QMJHL      67    23    69    92      81                                        FA/14
68 Alex Gudbranson       6-2     204    Right          9/3/94      Orleans, Ontario                  Sault Ste. Marie    OHL          66    7      8      15      76                                        INVITEE
78 Dylan Labbe               6-2     194    Left            1/19/95    St. George, Quebec              Shawinigan          QMJHL      63    9      18    27      20                                        EN/13
23 Gustav Olofsson         6-4     191    Left            12/1/94    Boras, Sweden                     Colorado College NCHC        30    4      4      8        20                                        EN/13
79 Hunter Warner            6-2     202    Right          9/21/95    Eden Prairie, Minnesota       Waterloo/Fargo    USHL        50    2      10    12      127                                        INVITEE
GOALTENDERS            HT     WT    CATCHES BORN     BIRTHPLACE                    2013-14 TEAM   LGE        GPI   W-L-OT  SO GAA  SV%                                        ACQ
50 Alexandre Belanger     6-1     184    Left            8/19/95    Sherbrooke, Quebec            Rouyn-Noranda   QMJHL    52      28-18-3   1    3.23   .881                                        EN/13
31 Johan Gustafsson       6-2     202    Left            2/28/92    Koping, Sweden                   Iowa                    AHL        40      12-20-4   1    2.98   .903                                        EN/10
70 Brandon Whitney        6-5     208    Right          5/11/94    Kentville, Nova Scotia         Victoriaville         QMJHL    41      13-18-7   4    3.25   .906                                        INVITEE
 
 
2014 MINNESOTA WILD PROSPECTS TOURNAMENT SCHEDULE*
 
FRIDAY, SEPTEMBER 12
2:30 p.m.        Minnesota vs. Columbus
3:00 p.m.         Buffalo vs. Carolina
6:00 p.m.         New York Rangers vs. Dallas
6:30 p.m.         Detroit vs. St. Louis
                                      
SATURDAY, SEPTEMBER 13
2:30 p.m.         Carolina vs. Dallas
3:00 p.m.        Minnesota vs. St. Louis
6:00 p.m.         Buffalo vs. New York Rangers
6:30 p.m.         Detroit vs. Columbus
 
MONDAY, SEPTEMBER 15
2:00 p.m.         Dallas vs. Buffalo
2:30 p.m.         Columbus vs. St. Louis
5:30 p.m.         New York Rangers vs. Carolina
6:00 p.m.        Minnesota vs. Detroit
 
TUESDAY, SEPTEMBER 16
2:00 p.m.         Seventh Place Game (4th Howe vs. 4th Lindsay)
2:30 p.m.         Fifth Place Game (3rd Howe vs. 3rd Lindsay)
5:30 p.m.         Third Place Game (2nd Howe vs. 2nd Lindsay)
6:00 p.m.         Championship Game (1st Howe vs. 1st Lindsay)
* All times listed are Central
 
 

Justin Fontaine agrees to two-year contract with Wild

Posted by: Michael Russo Updated: July 29, 2014 - 11:33 AM

Justin Fontaine, the 26-year-old Wild forward, will avoid a Friday arbitration hearing and sign a new two-year deal with the Wild this afternoon. The deal is expected to be worth $1 million annually ($950,000 in Year 1 and $1.05 million in Year 2).

Fontaine, the former University of Minnesota Duluth national champion, tied for fourth on the Wild and tied for 12th among NHL rookies last season with 13 goals. That goal total was third-highest ever by a Wild rookie. He had 21 points in 66 games and his plus-6 was tied for second all-time by a Wild rookie.

On Jan. 9 at Phoenix, he recorded his first career hat trick.

Fontaine is one of three remaining restricted free agents left to be signed by the Wild. The other two are the biggees, winger Nino Niederreiter and goalie Darcy Kuemper.

Kuemper, by all indications, could take awhile. It was difficult to get Kuemper signed to his initial entry-level deal and Kuemper had a quality rookie season, helping save the Wild's hide when Josh Harding was lost to complications with multiple sclerosis and Niklas Backstrom to another abdominal injury.

The Wild will again be relying on the uncertainty of Backstrom and Harding this season, which certainly seems to give Kuemper leverage in negotiations toward a new deal. Kuemper went 12-8-4 last season with a 2.43 goals-against average and .915 save percentage. He sustained a concussion at St. Louis when run by David Backes and was lost to another head injury in Game 7 of the first round when he was hit behind the net and his head hit teammate Ryan Suter.

Niederreiter could take awhile, too, but these things usually get done. Training camp doesn't start until Sept. 18, so there's plenty of time. Niederreiter scored 14 goals, 36 points and was plus-12 in 81 games last season. He was also the Game 7 hero against Colorado, scoring two goals (including the overtime winner) and assisting on Jared Spurgeon's late tying goal in the third period.

GM Chuck Fletcher told me earlier this month his goal is to sign Niederreiter to a two- to four-year deal.

Speaking of Fletcher, I am filling in for Dan Barreiro on KFAN (100.3-FM) today from 3-6 p.m. CT. The Wild GM will join be at 3:35.

Also on the show will be Lou Nanne, the Star Tribune's Lavelle E. Neal III, Paul Charchian and A.J. Mansour.

Wild takes Alex Tuch at No. 18

Posted by: Michael Russo Updated: June 27, 2014 - 8:54 PM

The Wild took Alex Tuch, a 6-4 right winger who played for the U.S. national development team, with the 18th pick in tonight’s NHL Draft in Philadelphia.

Tuch has committed to Boston College, which is expected to again be a college powerhouse next season.

The Wild had Tuch in for a couple of interviews, and was known to be very high on him. His advisor, Steve Bartlett, is also Thomas Vanek’s agent.

"He's a big, strong winger with quality hands and an NHL shot," assistant GM Brent Flahr said in a text. "We feel that he has tremendous upside and we are very excited to add a potential power forward to our group of prospects."

Tuch is a power forward who was ranked 12th in the final Central Scouting rankings. He is from Baldwinville, N.Y., and grew up playing youth hockey in Syracuse.

Here is his NHL.com profile:

• In 2013-14, his second season with the U.S. National Team Development Program, Tuch tied for the under-18 team-lead with seven game-winning goals and a plus-35 rating. He ranked third on the club with 64 points (29-35—64) in 61 games.

• A two-time medalist with Team USA, Tuch won gold at the 2014 Under-18 World Championship (0-3—3 in seven games) and bronze at the 2013 World Under-17 Hockey Challenge (1-3—4 in 6 games). He was also part of the U.S. Under-18 team that finished first at the 2012 Four Nations Tournament.

• Growing up, he idolized his neighbor, Tim Connolly, a Syracuse native who played 11 NHL seasons with the New York Islanders, Buffalo Sabres and Toronto Maple Leafs.

• In 2011-12, Tuch set the Empire Junior Hockey League scoring record with 101 points (44-57—101) in 40 games as a 15-year-old.

• He has committed to Boston College for the fall of 2014: “Boston College has always been my dream school. I can remember watching them in the Frozen Four when I was six years old.”

FAVORITES

NHL team: Buffalo Sabres
Shootout move: “Forehand, kick it off the skate, forehand, backhand, shot”
Goal celebration: “Fist pump on one knee”
Video game: NHL 14
Movie: Anchorman
TV show: Breaking Bad
Actor: Will Ferrell
Most played song: ‘City of Dreams’ by Alesso and Dirty South
Website: NHL.com
Sport (other than hockey): Lacrosse
Athlete (non-hockey): LeBron James

Breaking down the Wild's 2014-15 schedule; Russo's Roadie Tips

Posted by: Michael Russo Updated: June 22, 2014 - 3:04 PM

The NHL announced the 82-game regular-season schedules (41 home, 41 road) for all 30 teams this afternoon.

The Wild will be challenged early, playing five of its first eight games in a nine-game October on the road. Most bizarrely, after a home-and-home series Oct. 9 and Oct. 11 vs. Colorado to open the season, the Wild will probably will return home to practice (selfishly, I think Mike Yeo should do the right thing and take the team to Vegas ... or Hawaii) and won't play next until six days later Oct. 17 at Anaheim and Oct. 19 at reigning Stanley Cup champion Los Angeles.

After a training camp that will last from Sept. 18-Oct. 8, those will be six long days. What left will there be for me to write about? (Joking).

Some nuggets:

-- The Wild will play 29 games vs. its Central Division rivals (this is what happens when there's 7 teams in each division in the West), with Colorado and Winnipeg coming to Minnesota three times and the Wild going to Chicago, Dallas (gulp; one win there since March 21, 2003, sad that I know that by heart?) and Nashville three times. The Wild plays St. Louis four times.

-- The Wild plays three games each vs. the Pacific for a total of 21 games with Anaheim, ARIZONA (no longer Phoenix), L.A. and San Jose coming to Minnesota twice and the Wild, like old times (long live the Northwest Division!), going to Calgary, Edmonton and Vancouver twice.

-- The Wild plays the 16 teams in the East one time each, home and away for a total of 32 games.

-- Sid the Kid and Evgeni Malkin and the Pens come to Minnesota Nov. 4, Stanley Cup champs come to Minnesota the first time Nov. 26 in the day before Thanksgiving game, for a change, the Wild will be on the road New Year's Eve at Columbus, the All-Star Game will be held in Columbus on Jan. 25 and the Wild closes the season at Chicago, at Nashville and at St. Louis.

-- After the All-Star Game, the Wild will play 18 home games and 18 road games during the stretch drive. Of those 36 games, 14 will be against the Central Division and 25 vs. the West.

-- The Wild has 13 sets of back-to-back, including a rare home back-to-back March 27-28 vs. Calgary and Los Angeles.

-- The Wild's longest homestand is five games March 27-April 6 vs. Calgary, L.A., the Rangers, Detroit and Winnipeg.

-- The Wild has seven three-game road trips and one four-game road trip, although that's a fake four-game road trip because the All-Star Game separates at Detroit with a Western Canadian swing to all three teams there.

-- Besides the first two games vs. and at Colorado, the only other home and home series is vs. Winnipeg on Dec. 27 and at Winnipeg on Dec. 29.

-- Judging by the time of the Jan. 17 game against Arizona, I assume that's Hockey Day Minnesota. The host city hasn't been announced.

-- As I mentioned last week, no stadium series game hosted by the Wild this season. For part of the reason why, see the previous blog.

-- Lastly, to answer my annual flurry of emails this time of year, my favorite road cities for various reasons: 1. Chicago; 2. Vancouver; 3. New York City; 4. Phoenix; 5. San Jose/Anaheim/L.A. circuit; 6. Washington; 7. Denver; 8. Montreal; 9. Boston; 10. Nashville; 11. Las Vegas (one day, I promise!).

There are so many other cities that are cool (some crummy ones, too), so don't be offended if I failed to mention yours.

Couple awesome Wild trips if you're looking for a few ideas: at Anaheim/LA in October; at Rangers/Boston in October because it's two incredible cities and a simple train ride or LaGuardia to Logan Delta shuttle; at Ottawa/MTL in November because it's a 90-minute drive between the two cities, the Canadian capital is one of my favorite places even though I failed to mention it above and you get an off-night in MTL; at TB/FLA in November because it's a short, relatively cheap Southwest flight between Tampa and Ft. Lauderdale or a 3-hour drive; at San Jose (squeeze in Napa if you can)/Glendale in December (weather!) and at Winnipeg in February because you really, really, really should experience what I'm going to have to experience (actually, more than likely, my backup). smiley

On schedule-release day, I always realize how lucky I am to have this job. I mean, get paid to cover hockey AND travel for what's about to be my 20th year (10th covering the Wild)!!!

Who came up with this idea?

This morning I got an email from a Mankato student who's a hockey/journalism fanatic. He happened to mention he has never been out of the state of Minnesota besides North Dakota once and Wisconsin.

I couldn't get it out of my head for a few hours.

It was a great reminder how lucky I am to see the continent annually on the Star Tribune's dime (actually, the paper invests a lot more than a dime to our sports coverage) and then build the miles/hotel points to see the world during the offseasons fairly cheaply.

Of course, remind me of everything I just said when I undoubtedly whine to you on Twitter during travel delays and complain from Winnipeg this upcoming February (Brrrr).

-- If you missed, here's a Chuck Fletcher feature from today's paper mostly from the eyes of Craig Leipold.

2013-14 Minnesota Wild schedule

SEPTEMBER (PRESEASON)

Mon.     22                           at Winnipeg        7:00 p.m.            

Thur.     25                           at Pittsburgh      6:00 p.m.

SAT.       27                           WINNIPEG          7:00 P.M.

MON.    29                           PITTSBURGH      7:00 P.M.

Thur.     2                              at St. Louis          7:00 p.m.

SAT.       4                              ST. LOUIS             7:00 P.M.            

OCTOBER (REGULAR SEASON)

THUR.   9                              COLORADO         7:30 P.M.            

Sat.        11                           at Colorado         8:00 p.m.

Fri.          17                           at Anaheim         9:00 p.m.

Sun.       19                           at Los Angeles   3:00 p.m.

THUR.   23                           ARIZONA             7:00 P.M.

SAT.       25                           TAMPA BAY       7:00 P.M.            

Mon.     27                           at N.Y. Rangers 6:00 p.m.

Tue.       28                           at Boston             6:00 p.m.

THUR.   30                           SAN JOSE             7:00 P.M.

NOVEMBER

SAT.       1                              DALLAS 7:00 P.M.

TUE.       4                              PITTSBURGH      7:00 P.M.

Thur.     6                              at Ottawa            6:30 p.m.

Sat.        8                              at Montreal        6:00 p.m.

Tue.       11                           at New Jersey   6:00 p.m.

THUR.   13                           BUFFALO             7:00 P.M.

Sat.        15                           at Dallas               1:00 p.m.

SUN.      16                           WINNIPEG          4:00 P.M.

Thur.     20                           at Philadelphia  6:00 p.m.

Sat.        22                           at Tampa Bay     6:00 p.m.

Mon.     24                           at Florida             6:30 p.m.

WED.     26                           LOS ANGELES     7:00 P.M.

Fri.          28                           at Dallas               7:30 p.m.

SAT.       29                           ST. LOUIS             7:00 P.M.

DECEMBER

WED.     3                              MONTREAL         6:00 P.M.            

FRI.        5                              ANAHEIM           7:00 P.M.

TUE.       9                              N.Y. ISLANDERS                7:00 P.M.

Thur.     11                           at San Jose          9:30 p.m.

Sat.        13                           at Arizona            7:00 p.m.

Tue.       16                           at Chicago           7:30 p.m.

WED.     17                           BOSTON               7:00 P.M.

SAT.       20                           NASHVILLE         7:00 P.M.

TUE.       23                           PHILADELPHIA  6:00 P.M.

SAT.       27                           WINNIPEG          6:00 P.M.

Mon.     29                           at Winnipeg        7:00 p.m.

Wed.     31                           at Columbus       6:00 p.m.         

JANUARY

FRI.        2                              TORONTO           7:00 P.M.            

Sat.        3                              at Dallas               7:00 p.m.            

TUE.       6                              SAN JOSE             7:00 P.M.

THUR.   8                              CHICAGO            7:00 P.M.

SAT.       10                           NASHVILLE         1:00 P.M.

Sun.       11                           at Chicago           7:00 p.m.

Tue.       13                           at Pittsburgh      6:00 p.m.

Thur.     15                           at Buffalo            6:00 p.m.

SAT.       17                           ARIZONA             8:00 P.M.            

MON.    19                           COLUMBUS        7:00 P.M.

Tue.       20                           at Detroit             6:30 p.m.

Sun.       25                           NHL ALL-STAR GAME (Columbus, Ohio)

Tue.       27                           at Edmonton      8:30 p.m.

Thur.     29                           at Calgary            8:00 p.m.

FEBRUARY

Sun.       1              at Vancouver     2:30 p.m.

TUE.       3              CHICAGO            7:00 P.M.

SAT.       7              COLORADO         7:00 P.M.

MON.    9              VANCOUVER     7:00 P.M.

Tue.       10           at Winnipeg        7:00 p.m.

THUR.   12           FLORIDA              7:00 P.M.

SAT.       14           CAROLINA           7:00 P.M.

Mon.     16           at Vancouver     9:00 p.m.

Wed.     18           at Calgary            8:30 p.m.

Fri.          20           at Edmonton      8:00 p.m.

SUN.      22           DALLAS 7:00 P.M.

TUE.       24           EDMONTON       7:00 P.M.

Thur.     26           at Nashville         7:00 p.m.

Sat.        28           at Colorado         9:00 p.m.

MARCH

TUE.       3              OTTAWA             7:00 P.M.

Thur.     5              at Washington   6:00 p.m.

Fri.          6              at Carolina           6:00 p.m.

SUN.      8              COLORADO         5:00 P.M.

TUE.       10           NEW JERSEY       7:00 P.M.

FRI.        13           ANAHEIM           7:00 P.M.

Sat.        14           at St. Louis          7:00 p.m.            

Tue.       17           at Nashville         7:00 p.m.

THUR.   19           WASHINGTON  7:00 P.M.

SAT.       21           ST. LOUIS             1:00 P.M.

Mon.     23           at Toronto           6:30 p.m.            

Tue.       24           at N.Y. Islanders               6:00 p.m.

FRI.        27           CALGARY             7:00 P.M.                                                            

SAT.       28           LOS ANGELES     7:00 P.M.

APRIL

THUR.   2              N.Y. RANGERS   7:00 P.M.            

SAT.       4              DETROIT               6:00 P.M.            

MON.    6              WINNIPEG          7:00 P.M.

Tue.       7              at Chicago           7:30 p.m.

Thur.     9              at Nashville         7:00 p.m.            

Sat.        11           at St. Louis          6:30 p.m.

NHL makes significant revision to free-agent interview period rule

Posted by: Michael Russo Updated: June 19, 2014 - 1:51 PM

The NHL has implemented a significant change from last year regarding the free-agent interview period that begins next Wednesday.

In a memo sent yesterday to all teams and subsequently forwarded by the NHL Players’ Association to all agents, the league will now allow clubs and agents to discuss general parameters of a potential contract for a pending restricted and unrestricted free agent.

Last year if you remember, Commissioner Gary Bettman sent a last-second memo reminding clubs that they could not discuss contract parameters at all during the interview period prior to free agency, which begins this year on July 1.

In the June 18 memo (read over the phone to me by an agent), the league states, “After discussions with a number of general managers, we have revised and hopefully clarified with regard to last summer the permissible parameters of player contract and communication during the applicable interview periods.

“Please be advised that clubs are permitted to discuss the potential interest in as well as general parameters of a potential future contractual relationship with another club’s pending RFA or UFA during the applicable interview periods. The clubs may not enter any agreements or make any binding offers, promises, … oral or written concerning the terms of a potential SPC (standard players contract) with another club’s pending RFA or UFA.”

So in other words, teams and agents can now discuss the general parameters of a deal, as in, “I’ll be looking for a seven-year deal at around $5 million annually,” etc., meaning now players and agents at least know where each other is at heading into July 1 and know who’s in the game and who isn’t.

Last year, there seemed to be confusion where nobody had any idea of what could and couldn’t be discussed during the interview period. Some teams/agents apparently followed the rules, some teams didn’t, which created a conundrum that ticked off the teams that did follow the rules.

It’ll be interesting to see if this revision leads to some quick deals as free agency opens July 1.

This revision could also be potentially significant for a team like the Wild. Minnesota would love to find a way to add a scoring forward and a defenseman this summer. It probably can’t achieve both though IF both players it targets want long-term, lucrative contracts.

But if GM Chuck Fletcher learns prior to free agency that one of the players he covets would be interested in a short-term deal, it may allow Fletcher to fill two holes by extending a long-term offer to somebody else, maybe a defenseman.

So, that’s the good part of this NHL revision. Fletcher can now at least discuss general parameters to any potential deal with any potential free agent he covets to figure out what things the Wild may or may not be able to accomplish in free agency.

As I wrote the other day, the Wild would like to fill multiple holes this summer, but it also has to make sure it can re-sign all of its restricted free agents the next two summers. So it wants to be, as Fletcher said, “mindful,” with any long-term deal it gives out to an unrestricted free agent.

This summer, Nino Niederreiter, Darcy Kuemper, Justin Fontaine and Jason Zucker are restricted free agents that need to be re-signed. Next summer is the biggee when Mikael Granlund, Charlie Coyle, Erik Haula, Jonas Brodin, Marco Scandella and Christian Folin can all be restricted free agents (some may receive contract extensions later this summer or into next season, Fletcher has said previously).

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