The Wild technically doesn’t need to mail a $3,375 check to the New York Rangers for plucking veteran center Jarret Stoll off waivers Tuesday. It can hand them the check Thursday when the Rangers visit.
“Cash on delivery,” Wild General Manager Chuck Fletcher joked a half-hour after learning the team’s waiver claim went through.
Three weeks ago when inundated with injuries, the Wild tried to claim Landon Ferraro from Detroit, sources say. The Boston Bruins had waiver priority and landed the young center.
The Wild’s healthy now, but after seeing a bunch of non-NHL-ready minor league forwards get tries the past month and Tyler Graovac needing time to play in Iowa, Fletcher felt it necessary to add more NHL veteran depth in case of additional injuries.
Stoll, 33, won two Stanley Cups with the Los Angeles Kings, went to the Stanley Cup Finals with the Edmonton Oilers in 2006 and has 93 games of playoff experience (most on the Wild). He’s a right-shot center, the type the Wild, which ranks 26th on the penalty kill, has missed with Kyle Brodziak now playing in St. Louis.
“Hopefully with the Wild I can just be a simple, smart, hardworking player and a good example for the young guys on the team,” Stoll said during a phone interview.
Stoll will fly out of New York on Wednesday morning so he can arrive in time for practice. Wearing No. 19, he’s expected to debut for the Wild, coincidentally, against the Rangers on Thursday. Yes, his girlfriend, TV personality and Fox sportscaster Erin Andrews, will be in town, too, to attend the game and help apartment hunt.
Stoll has long been one of the NHL’s best in on faceoffs. Since his first full season in 2003-04, he ranks seventh among active NHLers with a .554 faceoff winning percentage.
“We’re a team that’s trying to find a way to get over the hump,” Fletcher said. “We’re a good, competitive team now and we’d still like to get to another level.
“Hopefully, a player like Jarret with his pedigree and experience and the intangibles that he brings will help us get there.”
In 2002, the Wild tried to sign Stoll via a conditional trade with the Calgary Flames, who drafted Stoll 46th overall in 2000, when he couldn’t come to terms on a contract. He went back into the draft and was selected 36th overall by Edmonton.
This past offseason, the Wild also tried to sign Stoll, but he ultimately signed a one-year, $800,000 deal with the Rangers. Since veterans this time of year usually cost third- or fourth-round picks, the Wild decided to grab Stoll “when we got a second chance” via waivers, Fletcher said.
“It was a tough couple days,” Stoll said. “I’ve never been on waivers before and to have a team that doesn’t really feel you’re a fit for their team anymore, it’s disappointing and a little negative, but I’m definitely excited now and fired up to get on that plane.”
Stoll, who texted back and forth with Zach Parise on Tuesday and knows Mikko Koivu and former Oilers teammate Devan Dubnyk, can play fourth-line center or may allow coach Mike Yeo to move Charlie Coyle, who has played center most of this season, to right wing.
“He’s a guy that’s put up points in his career,” Fletcher said of Stoll, who has 141 goals and 382 points in 821 games, “but at this point [we’re expecting him to] play more of a checking, PK, late-game defensive type of role.”
Stoll was arrested last April in Las Vegas during a Kings outing for felony cocaine possession. That charge was eventually dismissed and he pleaded guilty to two lesser misdemeanors. He received community service.
“I made a huge mistake and I definitely learned from it and took a lot of lessons out of that for myself and people around me,” Stoll said.
“I had a lot of good support from everybody, family and friends and my support group. It’s definitely behind me. I took care of everything I had to take care of, legally and personally.”
Fletcher said the Wild did its due diligence on the situation this past summer.
“We spent a lot of time speaking with many, many people,” Fletcher said. “We’re very comfortable with where Jarret’s at right now as a player and as a person. The reports we get is that he’s an unbelievable leader.
“I think he was very respected in that Los Angeles dressing room and one of the true leaders of that team.”