Kukla's Korner Hockey
from Jim Souhan of the Star Tribune,
The last time a Wild general manager acquired a goon who drove his fan base to take up pitchforks and tuck away checkbooks, he might as well have put his house on the market.
Chuck Fletcher’s signing of Matt Cooke is not a direct equivalent to Doug Risebrough bringing in Chris Simon, but both moves were made for the same reason and raised the same question: Did the GM know what he was doing?
Risebrough brought in Simon to toughen up a soft team, and his reaction to fan and media outrage over the move suggested he hadn’t fully investigated Simon’s bad acts.
Simon wound up playing little and poorly, and his history of comic-book-villain violence stained the reputation of a franchise that, to that point, had turned marketing and brand-building into an exact science. Simon didn’t make that Wild team any better, and his arrival became Risebrough’s perceptual Waterloo, a Mossy Cade on skates.
Fletcher, like Risebrough, is desperate to find tough players who don’t, like Zenon Konopka, go directly from the bench to the penalty box. Fletcher, like Risebrough, may have underestimated his fan base’s hatred of a goon.
Cooke is a cheap-shot artist. He is a dirty player.
from Michael Russo of the Star Tribune,
The NHL’s salary cap next year is $64.3 million. The Wild is being hit with a bonus overage of roughly $400,000 for exceeding the cap last year.
That means the Wild’s cap ceiling is about $63.9 million, probably less. Buffalo is picking up roughly $800,000 of Jason Pominville’s salary, but the Wild still has a $927,778 buyout charge for Mark Parrish. The Wild picked up Niederreiter, who makes $810,000 but technically has a cap hit of $2.795 million because of potential performance bonuses.
Teams can exceed the cap ceiling by 7.5 percent for all hypothetical entry-level bonuses. Oh, and remember, all teams can exceed the cap ceiling during the offseason by 10 percent until opening-night rosters must be submitted....
It’s clear Fletcher still is working the trade market. It wouldn’t be shocking if Devin Setoguchi, who is entering the last year of his contract, became expendable by Niederreiter’s acquisition. He has a $3 million cap hit. Could there be some way to trade Dany Heatley and his $7.5 million cap hit this summer? Seems doubtful, but his real money is $5 million. The Wild also still is trying to trade fourth-line center Zenon Konopka ($925,000).
And, defenseman Tom Gilbert might be a buyout casualty by Thursday. It would cost the Wild only $1 million the next two years in real dollars but would clear $4 million off the cap next season.
SAINT PAUL, Minn. – Minnesota Wild General Manager Chuck Fletcher today announced the National Hockey League (NHL) club has acquired a sixth-round pick in the 2014 NHL Entry Draft and the rights to restricted free agent forward Benn Ferriero from the New York Rangers in exchange for defenseman Justin Falk.
Ferriero, 26 (4/29/87), recorded one assist in four games with the New York Rangers in 2012-13 and recorded 30 points (8-22=30) in 57 American Hockey League (AHL) contests with Connecticut and Wilkes-Barre/Scranton.
Falk, 24 (10/11/88), collected three assists and 40 penalty minutes (PIM) in 36 regular season games with the Wild in 2012-13 and appeared in four playoff contests. He compiled 15 points (1-14=15) and 100 penalty minutes (PIM) in 108 career NHL games with Minnesota. Falk was originally selected by the Wild in the fourth-round (No. 110 overall) of the 2007 NHL Entry Draft.
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.”
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.
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