Free agency began at 11 a.m., and some big signings so far: Mike Ribeiro to Phoenix, Nathan Horton to Columbus for seven years, Daniel Alfredsson to Detroit, Andrew Ference to Edmonton, Ryane Clowe to New Jersey, Rob Scuderi back to Pittsburgh, Stephen Weiss to Detroit, David Clarkson to Toronto etc.
The Keith Ballard signing is official with Minnesota. Jared Spurgeon has been re-signed to a three-year deal worth $8 million and Matt Cullen and Pierre-Marc Bouchard have signed elsewhere.
Bouchard signed a one-year, $2 million deal with the New York Islanders. Ironically, it was on Long Island one March night that began Bouchard's run of concussions. He was nailed by Nate Thompson in the corner. Jacques Lemaire went loco after the game regarding the hit.
In Wild history, Bouchard ranks second with 565 games, fourth with 106 goals, second with 241 assists and third with 347 points.
Cullen signed a two-year, $7 million with Nashville. Cullen scored 33 goals and 101 points in 193 games with the Wild. He scored an additional 11 goals in the shootout.
The Wild could agree with Ballard early because Vancouver used a compliance buyout on him (similar to Vincent Lecavalier with Philly, Daniel Briere with Montreal.
I just got off the horn with Chuck Fletcher, which is what kept me from the presser. Fletcher told me the Wild is $1 million under being cap compliant, so right now he will stand pat and watch the free agency landscape and let the dust settle. Maybe he signs somebody at a later date, maybe he makes a trade, but he is comfortable if this is the team and if Charlie Coyle or Mikael Granlund vie for 2nd-line center.
We all knew he'd have to be tight this summer because of the cap coming down. The Wild has lots of space and he'll be more aggressive then. I will write more about this in tomorrow's paper and I'll toss up a fresh blog later with Fletcher's quotes.
Guys like Ribeiro, Weiss, Valtteri Filppula, Tyler Bozak – in other words, guys who could fill that No. 2 role – all were expensive.
ON D, as of now, Ballard is being penciled in on the right side of Marco Scandella. Spurgeon is with Clayton Stoner now, but all this in camp can change.
I talked to Jamie Langenbrunner's agent. Langenbrunner had season-ending surgery with St. Louis last year, but he's healthy and intends to continue his career. He'd love to play in Minnesota. As you can see on the below depth chart, I'm not certain there's a fit though.
Damien Brunner is another free agent the Wild has pursued heavily in the past. He'd bring skill, but I talked to his agent yesterday, and he's seeking a big payday.
I’m filling in for Paul Allen from 9-noon on Monday. One of my guests will be Ballard.
I'll update throughout the day and obviously pay attention to my Twitter account, @russostrib.
UPDATED WILD DEPTH CHART (PRE-JULY 5)
Left wing Center Right wing
Zach Parise ($7.5+M) Mikko Koivu (6.75M) **Jason Pominville (4.505M)
*Jason Zucker ($833,333) *Charlie Coyle (975K) Devin Setoguchi (3M)
*Nino Niederreiter (2.795M) Kyle Brodziak (2.83+M) Dany Heatley (7.5M)
Mike Rupp (1.5M) Zenon Konopka (925K) Torrey Mitchell (1.9M)
Extra: Jake Dowell (700K)
Unrestricted free agents: Matt Cullen (won’t be back) and Pierre-Marc Bouchard (won’t be back).
Some vying for spots: *Mikael Granlund, Justin Fontaine (RFA), Stephane Veilleux, *Erik Haula, *Brett Bulmer, *Zack Phillips.
* Two-way contract; can be sent to the minors without waivers.
**Buffalo picking up roughing $795,000
Left Defense Right Defense
Ryan Suter (7.5+M) Jonas Brodin (1.4+M)
Marco Scandella (1.025M) Keith Ballard (1.5M
Clayton Stoner (1.05M) Jared Spurgeon (2.66M)
Extra: Nate Prosser (825,000)
Vying for spots: Matt Dumba (can’t play in Iowa), Steve Kampfer, Kyle Medvec (RFA)
Unrestricted free agent: Brett Clark (won’t be back)
Niklas Backstrom (3.42M)
Josh Harding (1.9M)
Mark Parrish ($927,778)
Total cap hit roughly: $63,253,868(includes Buffalo picking up Pominville’s portion)
Wild’s approximate cap ceiling next year (roughly $400,000 less than NHL): $63.9M
***Available space roughly: $646,132. This doesn't include others making the team. For instance, if Granlund makes it, his cap hit is $2.1 million. Remember also, the Wild needs to save at least $1 million of space for in-season injury callups.
***Cap hits for all Minnesota’s entry-level players inflated for potential bonuses (for example, Niederreiter’s salary is actually $810,000); teams can exceed the cap by 7.5% on potential performance bonuses, so Wild actually has more cap space than listed.