Monday, June 30, 2008

Bye Bye, Bri!

Brian Rolston's rights have been traded to Tampa Bay, as reported by Russo.

That's a potential $5M in cap space free, and a third or fourth round pick back from TB (depending on whether or not he signs with the Bolts.)

Free agency starts tomorrow, and the Wild has a lot riding on Risebrough's actions this summer both in terms of current property (Gaborik, PMB) and players we would bring in.

If Rolston signs for anything like $5M/3 years then I just hope it's not with us.

That said, it's one thing to have cap space, it's another to use it well.

The Wild needs a playoff series win next April to meet my personal expectations.

The clock is ticking now.

NiNY

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Lawton Lands with Lightning

Former Minnesota North Stars player Brian Lawton, recently self-removed of the player agent title, has found a job in management, as the vice president of hockey ops for the new and improved Tampa Bay Lightning. This is a continuation of an overhaul at the top of the Bolts' organEYEzation, with new ownership, new head coach and new assistant coaches (including former Wild player Wes Walz) all coming in as well.

http://tsn.ca/nhl/story/?id=241612&lid=headline&lpos=secStory_main

NiNY

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Leipold Dealings Under Scrutiny

Back door shenanigans and cronyism are nothing new to the NHL and it's checkered history of swashbuckling, swindling owners. And now, as Henry Samueli of the Anaheim Ducks is suspended indefinitely by Commissioner Bettman for being brought up on charges of lying to the SEC, it turns out that the Wild's own fledgling owner, Craig Leipold, may be the latest in a long line of n'er-do-wells to grace the NHL's ownership luxury boxes.

http://www.thestar.com/Sports/article/447764

Whether or not supplementary action is to be taken by the NHL against Messers Leipold and Anschutz remains to be seen. Meanwhile, I'm sure Bettman and Co are thinking that the distraction of the Free Agency season opener can't come fast enough.

And the NHL wonders why it's fallen out of the top four pro sports leagues in America...

NiNY

Friday, June 20, 2008

Entry Draft Ongoing Blog

Welcome to draft day!

9:40 am ET

*Since today is at least as intriguing for the potential trades as for the picks themselves, I thought we'd kick it off by with the Leafs trading a third (08) to St. Louis in exchange for Jamal Mayers. A little veteran grit never hurt.

*There's also rumbling that the Lightning is close to signing a "lifelong" deal with Vinny Lecavalier.

11:05 am ET

*Predators send Mason to St. Louis, for a 4th (08).

HTP Staff

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Getting Drafty, Misc Stuff **UPDATED**

Ottawa's dusting and spit shining in preparation for the draft. The word is heavy on defensemen. The Wild pick at #24, and there have been some cookies (red herring-flavored?) in the media about intrigue at the draft tables and whatnot.

Like the NFL, every year I tell myself I won't watch the draft, only to pull one of these right around the time it starts (7pm ET Friday, Versus/NHL Network):

"Well, maybe I'll just turn 'er on to see Bettman get booed by the locals and find out who goes first....man, why don't they ever raise the mic up high enough for Gary? He always looks like he's standing on his tippy-toes and still has to tilt his head up to talk into it...yeah, yeah, yeah, great job Red Wings, blah, blah, blah nice show by Ottawa, just get on with it already...okay, first pick...great, come up on stage, put on the jersey, smile with the owner and Bettman...well that's that, I guess I'll go read a book or something..............actually, maybe I'll just watch a couple more to see if there are any trades..."

And the next thing I know the first round is over, I'm sweaty and breathless like I just came out of some kind of fugue and I'm pouring over tsn.ca to find out what McKenzie thinks about our pick.

Compelling stuff, I know.

I'm horrendous at mock drafting (though apparently better at draft mocking), so I'm not going to gouge your free time by offering up some half-baked thoughts on whom will go to whom.

Other stuff

*There's talk that Wes Walz will follow Barry Melrose to the coaching staff in Tampa Bay. I presume he'll work with the defensemen since he was twice as good in his own zone as Kuba ever was.

*Russo, etc, are reporting that the Wild and Rolston are still dancing. Actually, it also sounds like the Wild has their hand on Rolston's ass by this point and it's only a matter of time before they start making out. And that Demo is most likely gone.

**UPDATE** Russo is saying the Wild got a little too fresh, a little too fast, offered Rolston a skosh (technical term) under his idea of market value, was rebuffed and the ball's back in their court. So, I suppose that would mean that Rolston's crying in the girls' bathroom surrounded by four friends offering support/sympathy/kleenex, and the Wild is standing at the refreshment table saying uncouth things about Rolston's virtue to it's buddies. With the prom theme song ("American Boy"?) coming up soon, will they kiss and make up in time to dance the last dance? Tune in tomorrow!

*Blake Wheeler is expected to sign with the Bruins. I hope he's not planning on spending too much time with Kessel as big Blake is probably looking at a decent chunk of his immediate future being spent in Providence with the baby Bs.

NiNY

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

It's On!

The Wild off-season, that is.

DR has loosed his opening salvo of the summer's arms race - by trading a 3rd round pick for journeyman defenseman Marc-Andre Bergeron. Only 27 years old, Queen MAB has already made stops in Edmonton, Long Island and Anaheim before coming to St. Paul. (To be fair, the last two came last season.)

Known to possess a hard shot, the word on him is that he's not the most stalwart defensive defenseman. Points from our blue line have always been hard to come by, and defense is the one thing I am certain our current coaching staff can teach.

This is a depth move, to fill Fozzie's role while he's recuperating and hopefully put some pressure on Skoula as well.

Definitely represents a new tack for DR though. Two seasons ago the Fowl won the Cup and DR tried to re-make the Wild into a rough 'em up team. This year the Wings win the Cup and DR's early activities indicate he's looking to go back to a puck moving, skating, finesse team. I sort of wish he'd just figure it out.

In other news, Russo is reporting that Blake Wheeler is not interested in Minnesota, Demitra is interested in Vancouver and Erik Reitz is close to signing a 1-way contract with the Wild, meaning he'd start the season as your 7th defenseman in St. Paul.

NiNY

Monday, June 9, 2008

Like Artemus Gordon and James West...

Branko Radivojevic has decided to join Chris Simon and go in a different direction in his professional hockey career.

East. Way, way, way-y-y East.

How about all the way to 'The Wild, Wild East' ??

Radivojevic has signed a contract for 2008-09 with Moscow Spartak of the Russian Premiere League. The checking forward suffered an ACL injury during Game 2 of the Minnesota Wild's six-game first-round playoff loss to the Colorado Avalanche. The 28-year-old Slovakian was signed to a 2 year free agent deal in the summer of 2006. Last season, he had 7 goals, 10 assists and was a minus -14. He was primarily used alongside Stephane Veilleux on penalty-killing situations last season as well. The former 3rd round selection of the Avs in 1999, he also played with Phoenix and Philadelphia as well.

Radivojevic joins Simon and Petteri Nummelin as 2007-08 Wild players who have signed with European teams for next season.

My View: Will Branko be missed? In the long run, not much. He was at best a 3rd-4th line forward, which is where he actually wound up. He was signed to hopefully provide that third forward for a Gaborik-Demitra-Radivojevic line; however, Demitra did not want to play center, Gaborik thought anyone other than Demitra was too slow, and so on. 'Radio', as head coach Jacques Lemaire would say, kind of accepted the penalty killer role in order to stay up on the big roster. After the ACL injury in Game 2 of the Avs series, the Wild realized that only one penalty killer would not do, but with Branko in line for a new contract, they had to get more offense out of that roster spot, given that Demitra would (probably) be gone and the roster was due for an off-season overhaul.