(updated on bottom with minor-league signings and a couple asst candidates and cap hit)
I've been hearing rumblings the past few weeks that former Wild defenseman Kim Johnsson, whose four-year, $19.4 million deal he signed with Minnesota in 2006 expired after this season, is contemplating retirement.
I spoke with his agent, Rick Curran, this morning and Curran tells me Johnsson is still suffering effects from the concussion that ended his season with the Blackhawks in March. Johnsson was traded to Chicago along with 2009 first-round pick Nick Leddy for Cam Barker in February.
Said Curran: "He's still suffering symptoms of a concussion, and for the moment, he doesn't have any immediate plans to play.
"I've seen it alluded that he's going to retire, and I don't think that's necessarily the case for the moment. For the moment he's going to let the symptoms subside. He may very well retire eventually, but based on my conversation with him a week ago, it's been suggested that he just let his symptoms subside and then decide for himself. It's not going to be for quite awhile that there's a determination if he'll play.
"It's fair to say that he's got no intentions of looking to come back and play in the immediate future. So while at the moment he's not retiring, he's certainly not going to play in the immediate future and he may very well eventually be effectively retired."
Johnsson, 34, has scored 67 goals and 284 points in 739 career games in 10 seasons with the Rangers, Philadelphia, Minnesota and Chicago. The last pick in the 1994 draft (286th overall, Rangers), Johnsson plans to at least spend the rest of the summer in Minnesota.
Johnsson came to the Wild with a history of concussions in Philadelphia. The only reported one he sustained in Minnesota came from the Brad May sucker-punch during the 2007 playoffs.
The Wild traded Johnsson and signed Marek Zidlicky to a three-year extension in March, in part because the team said Johnsson gave them no indication he wanted to continue playing after this season.
I've left a few voicemails for Johnsson, but if I had to guess, we won't be seeing Johnsson on an NHL rink again. He's a devoted family man, he's made his money, so I think he'd be extremely content to turn into a full-time husband, dad.
I included a feature I wrote on Johnsson last September in training camp (unedited) on the bottom.
--I've got a lot of emails for a Pierre-Marc Bouchard update. He continues to exercise. He's taking it slow and easy, but this is obviously a good sign. Again, GM Chuck Fletcher doesn't want to put any pressure on him. They'd love to have him ready by training camp, but if it takes longer, that's fine. They've told him they just want him healthy and feeling comfortable.
--Also, an update to those uniform numbers I gave you the other day, Matt Cullen will wear 7 and Clayton Stoner will change his number.
--Josh Harding obviously didn't file for arbitration yesterday, so I'd think he'll sign a one-year deal soon. He's unrestricted next summer.
--Right now, the Wild is getting ready for its development camp July 12-19. A roster and schedule is expected tomorrow. First-round pick Mikael Granlund will not be there.
--Also, the Wild's conducting its assistant coaching search
(may update this later with some candidates I'm trying to iron down) and are about to hire a Swedish scout and maybe another North American scout.
As for candidates, I've heard through various sources that coach Todd Richards has talked with former Chicago, Anaheim and most recently Ottawa coach Craig Hartsburg. He's currently the Everett coach of the WHL and was the longtime captain of YOUR Minnesota North Stars. He also was a defenseman, so to replace Mike Ramsey, this could be the biggest appeal. I think the NHL head coaching experience is huge, too.
I also hear he's talked with Randy Cunneyworth, the longtime NHLer and former Atlanta assistant.
Another candidate is Kurt Kleinendorst, the Grand Rapids, Minn., native who coached the Under-18 U.S. program in Ann Arbor. He was a finalist for the Houston job, which went to Mike Yeo (Pittsburgh assistant).
Other candidates whom I believe are interested include former Wild center and Lightning assistant Wes Walz and former Blue Jackets assistant Gary Agnew. I've heard Richards may have even had a conversation with Phil Housley. There's tons of applicants.
--I still think the Wild will eventually sign another defenseman, and the way the roster shapes up now, it still wouldn't shock me if there's an eventual significant trade before the season. Lots of time before training camp, and a lot of teams, like Jersey, Philly and Boston, would like to create salary-cap room and some teams, like the Islanders, actually need contracts to get to the salary-cap floor.
--The blogs will be less frequent from here on out as I take some time off and get out of town a bit. Kent Youngblood, who will make his triumphant return as No. 2 this season, will be on here as well, especially from development camp.
--The Wild brought back Aeros winger Jon DiSalvatore for two years and defenseman Jamie Fraser for one.
--With 20 players, the Wild is $54,202,693 against $59.4 million cap (not including Josh Harding's eventual roughly $1.3 million and two more players that can be added to the roster through external additions or internal competition in camp. In other words, as of now, there's room for a Nate Prosser or a Casey Wellman to fight for a roster spot).
--Here is that Johnsson feature: