Looking for blue-line insurance with Nick Schultz, Greg Zanon and Marek Zidlicky the only veterans left, the Wild signed Burnsville native Mike Lundin to a one-year, $1 million this afternoon.
If you remember from the July 2 editions, the Wild inquired about the Tampa Bay Lightning defenseman on the first day of free agency, July 1. But at that point, the Wild was keeping all flexibility when it came to roster space and Lundin was looking for longer term.
But the Wild ultimately came calling again, and despite a few other options, Lundin signed with his hometown team. As an Apple Valley High defenseman, Lundin was a finalist for the 2003 Mr Hockey Minnesota Award.
"This is a dream come true," said Lundin, who lives in Lakeville with his wife, Shelly, and 9-month-old son, Finn.
He said he didn't let his dad, Jeff, mom, Kathy, brother, Matt, and sister, Melissa, in on the news until real late "until it was a for-sure sure thing. I didn't want to send any false alarms."
Lundin, 26, is a mobile defenseman whom Lightning coach Guy Boucher often called a "mistake-free" defenseman last year. He was a solid top-4 D for Tampa last year, averaging 20:24 a game in the regular season.
Because of that, the Lightning, in need of cap space, didn't qualify him as a restricted free agent because it was worried about his potential arbitration award, Lightning GM Steve Yzerman said. He would have easily won in arbitration and earned well more than $1 million based on ice time alone.
"He can eat up a lot of minutes," assistant GM Brent Flahr said.
Lundin does struggle at times with the physical play and lost almost six minutes a game of ice time in the playoffs.
Flahr said, “It’s just the type of defender he is. If you watch him, it’s all stick and positioning. He’s very smart, and he’s one of those guys that gets by because of his mobility and intelligence.”
I talked to Wes Walz, who coached Lundin in Tampa, and he's a big fan. You can see his quotes in the paper Sunday.
Most importantly here, Lundin was coached by Wild assistant Rick Wilson in Tampa, and he runs the Wild D, so he should know how to use Lundin.
Lundin has tallied 33 points in 224 career games during four seasons with Tampa Bay (2007-11) and represented the Eastern Conference at the 2008 YoungStars Game. He represented the United States at the 2010 World Championship and notched one assist in six games. Lundin also appeared in 78 games in parts of two seasons (2008-10) with the Norfolk Admirals in the American Hockey League (AHL) and recorded 45 points (6-39=45). Lundin played four seasons at the University of Maine (2003-07) and notched 69 points (13-56=69) in 160 contests and was named to the Hockey East Second All-Star Team in 2007.
Again, the reason for the deal is to provide depth in case of injury or in case the Wild gets to camp and finds any of the young D vying for sports aren't ready. His age was most appealing. In other words, they're not boxing out a youngster with a 38-year-old D or something.
Updated depth chart
Here's a look at the Wild's depth chart for next season as it stands today. There are basically three spots open if one assumes 18 one-way contracts and two two-way contracts (Clayton Stoner and Jared Spurgeon) are certain to make the team. The other three spots (TBD) would come from youngsters vying for spots or external acquisitions (free agency or trades). Alongside each player is his 2011-12 salary and 2011-12 salary-cap hit. The salary-cap ceiling for next season is $64.3 million. The floor is $48.3 million.
Line 1: Pierre-Marc Bouchard ($4.25 million salary, $4.08M salary cap hit); Mikko Koivu ($7.29M, $6.75M); Dany Heatley ($8M, $7.5M)
Line 2: Guillaume Latendresse ($2.6M, $2.5M); Matt Cullen ($3.5M, $3.5M); Devin Setoguchi ($2.75M; $3M)
Line 3: Darroll Powe ($950K, $1.066M); Kyle Brodziak ($1.3M, $1.15M); Cal Clutterbuck ($1.5M, $1.4M)
Line 4: Colton Gillies ($600K, $625K); Eric Nystrom ($1.4M, $1.4M); Brad Staubitz ($600K, $575K)
Extras: TBD; TBD
Note: One or two spots are open depending on if the Wild keeps 13 or 14 forwards (assumes Gillies makes the team), or seven or eight defensemen.
Vying for spots: Casey Wellman, Cody Almond, James Sheppard, David McIntyre, Carson McMillan, Matt Kassian, Jed Ortmeyer, Jeff Taffe.
Restricted free agents: Wellman, Sheppard, Jarod Palmer
Unrestricted free agents: John Madden, Antti Miettinen, Patrick O’Sullivan
Minor league unrestricted free agents: Robbie Earl
Pair 1: Nick Schultz ($3.6 million salary, $3.5M salary cap hit); Marek Zidlicky ($4M, $4M)
Pair 2: Greg Zanon ($2.1M, $1.933M); Mike Lundin ($1M, $1M)
Pair 3: Clayton Stoner ($575K, $550K); Jared Spurgeon ($535K, $527K)
Extras: TBD; TBD
Note: One or two spots are open depending on if the Wild keeps 13 or 14 forwards.
Vying for spots: Marco Scandella, Nate Prosser, Justin Falk, Drew Bagnall.
Restricted free agents: Falk, Jeff Penner.
Starter: Niklas Backstrom ($6 million salary, $6M salary cap hit)
Backup: Josh Harding ($750K, $750K)
• Actual 2011-12 payroll (as of today): $54,769,445
• Salary cap hit: $53,109,777
Notes: Includes bought-out Mark Parrish’s $927,778 payoff and cap hit and bought-out Cam Barker $541,667 payoff and $375,000 cap hit.
This total includes 20 of a possible 23 players (includes Gillies). This doesn’t include the other youngsters vying for the team or possible free-agent or trade acquisitions. That means the payroll and salary-cap hits are in actuality higher because up to three spots may still be filled.