Good afternoon from Vegas, where the NHL stars and most importantly, hockey writers, are starting to trickle in for Wednesday night's NHL Awards Show on Versus.
Yes, I know no Wild player's up for anything. I'm just here. Working on my draft stuff, before heading out to L.A.
I meant to mention this last week, but I chatted with Lightning free agent Kurtis Foster the other day. Foster's doing better, but this is a very tough time for he, his wife and his family. Because of last month's loss of his newborn daughter, he's decided not to come to Las Vegas. Foster's one of the Masterton nominees. Foster just said he wanted to spend more time with his family rather than be celebrating in Vegas at this time.
Just a terrible thing, and as Wild fans learned while he played in Minnesota, Foster's one of the all-around good-guys in the league. So here's wishing he and his family the best.
Couple odds and ends:
Uno: The NHL schedule will be released Tuesday. GM Chuck Fletcher said the other day that the Wild's poised to have a much better start to next season because the way the schedule looked at least then, seven of 10 games in October will be at home. Remember, last year was road heavy, including 6 of the first 7 away from the X. Oh, and the Wild went 0-6.
Also he believes training camp, especially a week of team building in Finland, will do wonders for the start of the season.
The Wild opens the season with consecutive games in Helsinki vs. arch rival Carolina, then opens at home Oct. 14 vs. Edmonton. The NHL says we can announce that. Don't tell anybody, but Columbus comes here Oct. 16. I wasn't told I can announce that, but I live dangerously.
Dos: The Hall of Fame inductees will be announced Tuesday afternoon. As I mentioned last week, the first-year eligible list is pretty weak this year, so could this finally be Dino Ciccarrelli's year? I believe he's been passed over seven times. I think he's got a real shot this year.
Tres: I mentioned this on Twitter because I'm getting bombarded with emails regarding Internet rumors. I stay away from the rumor sites, so I don't even know where this stuff originates. An old editor of mine once told me that we should never refute bad info, but that was said in the non-Internet age. So here we go in an effort to set the record straight:
--Jason Spezza: As of today at least, the Wild has not been in on the Spezza sweepstakes
--Mike Ribeiro for Brent Burns: Negative. I don't see the Wild being interested in Mike Ribeiro. As I mentioned yesterday, the next $5 million addition could be the last for awhile, so the Wild's looking younger.
--There was a third thing, but it was so laughable, I won't even mention it.
Cuatro: Derek Boogaard's out in Santa Monica right now training with his brother, Aaron. They're mostly boxing. He'll be there quite some time, and Boogaard, who could become a free agent July 1, has rented out the beach house that was used in the Beverly Hills 90210 TV show. You've got to hand it to Boogey. He knows how to live.
Cinco: I mentioned this last week, but it's official now, broadcasters Dan Terhaar and Mike Greenlay and Bob Kurtz and Tom Reid have been re-upped for dos years.
Seis: It'll be interesting what Chicago does this week. Patrick Sharp, Dustin Byfuglien and/or Kris Versteeg could be cap casualties. The Blackhawks were over the cap about $2.5 million this year, and Jonathan Toews had a $1.3 million bonus for winning the Conn Smythe. And since they were already over, all this will be charged to next year's cap. So while the official number hasn't been released, the Blackhawks cap could be about $4 million lower than everybody else's next year.
In essense, a bunch of sportswriters' votes (Toews) cost the Blackhawks $1.3 million of cap space next year. Not that Toews didn't deserve it, but you know what I mean.
The Wild would love Sharp if he's available, but I'm sure so would about a dozen other teams. They'd like Byfuglien, too, but as his mom told me in that feature I wrote on Big Buff before the Finals, she doesn't think the Wild would be a good place for him. As she said, "too many relatives, too close by." I'm sure the Wild like Versteeg, but I just don't see it being "the fit."
I think Stephen Weiss is somebody the Wild would love, but I just don't know if Florida trades him. I've mentioned Carter before.
The Wild again is looking for a big center, but as I mentioned above, any significant trade that would include somebody like Burns I would guess has to be for somebody that's in his 20s with a good chunk of contract left.
As I mentioned the other day, if the Wild can't find a long-term solution now, it'll look for shorter-term solutions in free agency.
Siete: Starting Wednesday, I'll start adding video links on the blog of draft-eligible players that could be selected around 9 that the Wild may have interest in. Assuming you've studied some of the draft eligibles already, who do you want the Wild to take?