Kukla's Korner Hockey
from Michael Russo of the Star Tribune,
When the Wild acquired Jason Pominville on April 3, the team seemed destined to use a compliance buyout this offseason on veteran Dany Heatley.
That’s now unlikely to happen.
The NHL salary cap drops to $64.3 million for 2013-14. The Wild’s will be about $63.9 million because performance bonuses achieved by Jonas Brodin put the Wild over last year’s cap. The Wild, as it stands today, has about $6.2 million to fill out next year’s roster.
Heatley would have been an ideal candidate for a compliance buyout. The team would still be on the hook for two-thirds of his $5 million salary, but the buyout would create a much-needed $7.5 million in salary-cap relief.
But on the same day the Wild traded for Pominville, Heatley tore the labrum in his left shoulder. He underwent surgery five days later and was given a four- to six-month recovery time.
That timetable is significant because an injured player cannot be bought out.
from Craig Custance of ESPN (paid subscription),
Starting netminder Backstrom earned $6 million last season and led the league with 24 wins. His save percentage dropped to .909 but he has a career save percentage of .917. Serious contract talks haven't started yet.
"Right now, we're just waiting for Minnesota to finish their meetings and go from there," Backstrom's agent Jeff Kowall said on Thursday. "Our first step is to see what Minnesota's plans are and hopefully there's something to be worked out."
It's an interesting time to have flexibility in goal if a deal can't be worked out with Backstrom. If Minnesota prefers to go short-term with a veteran until Kuemper proves he's ready, guys like Nikolai Khabibulin and Evgeni Nabokov should be available. If you want to spend more money, Mike Smith could hit the market if he's not comfortable with the ownership situation in Phoenix. Chicago probably won't be able to keep Ray Emery, who lost all of one game this season in 19 starts with the Blackhawks, going 17-1-0 with a .922 save percentage.
And then there's the trade market. Roberto Luongo will be traded, although that contract doesn't appear to be a fit with the Wild. But Ryan Miller's term is much more reasonable and may make him the most attractive goalie available this summer. And Fletcher knows Marc-Andre Fleury well from his time in Pittsburgh. Considering the Penguins decision to ride Tomas Vokoun in these playoffs, the possibility of a Fleury trade looks more and more likely this summer.
"[Backstrom's] our No. 1 goalie. We'll just have to see," Fletcher said. "There's a whole host of factors involved there ... Goaltending is our No. 1 priority to address."
from Michael Russo of Russo's Rants,
Now big questions have to addressed this offseason...
One, obviously has to do with Yeo. GM Chuck Fletcher is safe, I believe. If Yeo isn’t safe, it would come from the GM, not the owner. And with Lindy Ruff and maybe even Dave Tippett dangling, this will be a lasting topic unless Fletcher publicly puts it to bed.
But Fletcher will have to evaluate everything, and that includes the job he is doing.
I still think the Wild’s future is bright, but the Wild isn’t big enough up front, isn’t fast enough and doesn’t have enough finishers. The blue line is an issue. It nThe Wild will have to find a way to accomplish this. If you don’t get to pick first or second overall or third overall or whatever, like Chicago did with Kane and Toews, and Pittsburgh did with Crosby and Malkin, it’s hard to replicate that route.
But bottom line: The Wild outchanced Chicago for large portions of this series. But as has been the trend all year with the team, it has to work excruciatingly hard to finish, while other teams seemingly don’t.
from Michael Russo of the Star Tribune,
Aggravating game because it was hanging in the balance early and even late for the Wild to either take or get back into. But the Wild’s power play – now 0 for 15 in the series – failed and failed and failed, especially on back-to-back advantages to start the third period.
Mikko Koivu and Zach Parise each were minus-2 and now are a combined minus-11 in the series. Parise’s been limited to one goal, Koivu, who just doesn’t look to be skating well to me, has been limited to no points.
“We’ve got to score on them. It’s as simple as that,” Parise said when asked how much he and Koivu need to step up.
Koivu said, “You can’t get frustrated. Obviously it’s hard. It’s tough when you’re trying to create and it’s not going in. Players go through that. I have to be able to find a way to get it to the net and keep creating.”
Coach Mike Yeo said of the two forwards, “It probably wasn’t the greatest of nights, but if you know them the way I do, you are very excited to see them play Thursday night.”
from Jim Souhan of the Star Tribune,
It’s not Minnesota Nice to wish ill upon people, but this is the best possible scenario, given the way The Captain is playing....
The only way Koivu got his name in the boxscore was by taking ridiculous penalties. Three of them. He finished minus-3, and the details were as telling as the results....
As talented as the Blackhawks are, the Wild trailed 2-0 midway through Friday’s game, and trails 2-0 in the first-round playoff series, largely because Koivu isn’t earning his letter.
Whenever the playoffs are over, Koivu needs to cede the C to Parise, the team’s best player and leader. Or maybe that should happen on Saturday.
One other note on the game, Ryan Suter played just over 41 minutes
from Michael Russo of Russo's Rants,
The Wild left Minnesota yesterday completely confident Pominville would play after practicing yesterday. But Pominville, who missed the regular season’s final two games after being elbowed in the head by Dustin Brown, woke up not feeling well today, I hear.
Yeo wouldn’t confirm that when I asked but said Pominville is “just not quite ready. This is a big game, but you’ve got to look at the big picture and we have to make sure that when we get him back in, we get him back in for good.”
more on the Wild/Blackhawks game tonight...
from Bob Sensevere of the Pioneer Press,
BS: In every sport, there have been teams that struggle at the end of a regular season and then have renewed life. Is that what you're expecting to happen?
CL: There is no better example than what happened last year with the Los Angeles Kings. The L.A. Kings only won four of their last 11 games and they lost their last two games. Still got into the playoffs and end up winning the Stanley Cup. We don't have to go very far to find a model. We think our team is very much like the Kings. We go hot. We go cold. We did it all season. Now we've got to go hot, and we think we can.
BS: Is that what you're telling your friends?
CL: That's what we're telling everybody. This is a whole new season. Everybody does talk about it, but it's the hot team with the hot goalie and hot players that will now start to rise. We think we've got a chance to do that.
BS: Just getting into the postseason lifts an enormous weight off a team, doesn't it?
CL: The pressure is not on us right now. We're going to go out there and have fun. We're going to play probably looser than we have been in a long time. We think this is now our time.
About Kukla's Korner Hockey
Paul Kukla founded Kukla’s Korner in 2005 and the site has since become the must-read site on the ‘net for all the latest happenings around the NHL.
From breaking news to in-depth stories around the league, KK Hockey is updated with fresh stories all day long and will bring you the latest news as quickly as possible.
Email Paul anytime at email@example.com