Minnesota Wild Sign Zach Parise AND Ryan Suter

 

Happy birthday America!  The Minnesota Wild started the fireworks early on the Fourth of July by announcing matching contracts for free agent forward Zach Parise, and free agent defenseman Ryan Suter.  Both players were clearly the best available at their position in the free agent market, and in the end decided to join forces and come to the State of Hockey.  Each deal is for 13 years, $98 million, which should essentially keep both players in Minnesota for the rest of their careers.  To learn more about both signings, and how this affects the Minnesota Wild going forward, continue after the jump.

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Minnesota Wild About Having A Winning Hockey Team Again

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The Minnesota Wild are providing a glimmer of hope for the suffering fans of the State of Hockey as winter falls upon us.  After a dramatic shootout win in Edmonton on Wednesday night, the Minnesota Wild now have their best start in the 11 year history of the franchise.  “You’re now f-ing with the best in the world” as Minnesota has flirted with the top of the NHL standings, currently sit tied atop the Western Conference, and reside comfortably atop the Northwest Division, all before the calendar turns to December.  The Wild are not longer a lollipop on the schedule of other teams, and much of the credit goes to new coach Mike Yeo.  For more on Yeo and the dramatic turnaround for the Team of 18,000, continue after the jump.

 

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Minnesota Wild and San Jose Sharks Make Second Blockbuster Trade

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MARTIN HAVLAT TRADED FOR DANY HEATLEY

 

The Minnesota Wild and San Jose Sharks have made a second blockbuster trade in just over a week.  The Wild send last year’s leading scorer Martin Havlat to the Sharks for former Wisconsin Badger star Dany Heatley.  The trade was an old school one for one player swap, something rarely seen in these days of mega contracts.  Havlat has four years left at $5 million per season, while Heatley will make $7.5 million for the next three years.

 

Bryan Vickroy

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Minnesota Wild 2011 Draft Picks

2011 Minnesota Wild NHL Draft Picks

 

The 2011 NHL Entry Draft is completed, and all seven rounds are in the books.  Before we look ahead to free agency in the National Hockey League, let’s take a look at a team by team synopsis of all of this year’s draft picks.  Find out who they are, what to expect from them, and when you can expect to see them putting on a sweater in the NHL. Also, each team will be graded on their overall performance during the 2011 NHL Entry Draft.   Let’s find out who the Minnesota Wild drafted, after the jump.

 

Bryan Vickroy

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Minnesota Wild To Name Mike Yeo As New Head Coach

mike yeo the sports bank hockey

Mike Yeo Is Minnesota Wild’s choice over veterans like MacTavish and Hitchcock

It has bee reported that the Minnesota Wild have scheduled a press conference for 11:00am Central Time to announce the hiring of Mike Yeo as the new head coach.  Yeo will be the third head coach in Minnesota Wild history, following Jaques Lemaire’s long tenure and Todd Richards’ brief two year stint.  Mike Yeo spent last season leading the minor league affiliate Houston Aeros to the Calder Cup Finals.  Yeo has never been a head coach in the National Hockey League.

 

Bryan Vickroy

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Minnesota Minutes

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With Andy Weise

Vikings:

In the latest twist, Brett Favre did in fact have surgery on his injured shoulder. What’s next? Seriously, I am not even trying to follow this thing anymore because Brett Favre wearing purple is so far fetched that until he actually signs on the dotted line, it’s too hard to imagine. It’s almost like the Vikings know about this whole thing anyways, they keep talking about how Sage and Tarvaris are doing well in the OTAs- but nothing ever about who is winning the race to the starting QB position. We here in Minneapolis even got a story this past week about John David Booty having a great offseason. In my opinion, Booty should stay as the third QB if Favre signs and whoever loses the backup job, gets the ax.

Kevin and Fat Pat Williams sure seem like they won’t miss any time next year. That’s great news considering the dominance of the run defense the Vikings have had for the last several years.


Twins:

Joe Mauer isn’t on steroids, he’s just damn good. Experts have raved about this guy since the dinosaurs became extinct and for a guy who turned 26 in April and already won two AL batting titles, I would say he’s doing fairly well. The power was something that was always going to come, yet some Twins fans hate on the guy because at times he’s looked like he’d rather get a base hit then try to swing for the fences. I’ll never understand the negative press he gets as “Baby Jesus” (a nickname given to him by a popular talk show host because of how people care for the sometimes injury prone, St. Paul native). Contrary to popular reports, his mother’s name isn’t Mary and he won’t be the first player to draw a walk in the home run derby (if he gets placed in the event). The next question that plagues the inconsistent Twins is: can they sign Mauer or will he follow the likes of Torii Hunter and Johan Santana to the bigger markets? What team wouldn’t want Mauer? I wouldn’t be surprised if they Twins address his contract during this season. There’s another Joe I also hope gets an extension: Joe Crede. My man-crush on him is through the roof and he’s been able to fill a much needed void at third base this year despite missing some games because of numerous injuries and not having a good batting average.


Timberwolves:

David Kahn (it’s ok to picture Khan from Star Trek: The Wrath of Khan), is the new boss and he continues to wine and dine the man he replaced: Kevin McHale. As time continues to go on, it looks more and more likely that McHale will coach next year. Much of the old front office and coaching staff are handling all the pre-draft workouts, which in my opinion is kind of weird if Kahn ends up replacing everyone. It almost seems like a way for him to make excuses his first year or two, he can blame these guys if they screw up even though he’s the guy that is supposedly going to call the shots.

So what do the Wolves do with the draft? Tyreke Evans or DeMar DeRozan seem like two good options at No. 6. The Wolves have to look at upgrading both the point and shooting guard spots. Randy Foye could still end up being a starter but long-term, he might be best as the sixth man. Like the way the Bulls use Ben Gordon or the Mavericks use Jason Terry: instant offense. Foye’s entering his fourth year and the Wolves still don’t know what exactly he brings to the table besides inconsistent play. Kahn needs to explore all options including trading expiring contracts (Mike Miller, Brian Cardinal & Mark Madsen) for proven talent. Guys like Michael Redd, Richard Jefferson, Chris Kaman, Samuel Dalembert and Kirk Hinrich are all rumored to be available. The Wolves should target someone who can come in and help out immediately. I’m not incredibly optimistic at this point, but I’m not expecting anything great either so maybe something works out.

Wild:minnwild

The hiring of Chuck Fletcher was received well locally. Now the hiring of the coach is the next big deal with Minnesota native Todd Richards being rumored for the job. Maybe it’s because he seems to have the right resume for the job or that he was born in Crystal, Minnesota where my future wife and I just bought a house, but it just seems like Richards should be the next guy calling the shots. The hope is that the Wild have done enough to convince Marian Gaborik that he needs to remain in Minnesota. As a casual Wild fan, the hiring of Fletcher and hopefully soon of Richards, can only do good things for the franchise. Let’s put this in terms of other sports, for the Wolves this is probably like hiring Dennis Lindsey (Assistant GM San Antonio Spurs) as the GM and Tom Thibodeau (assistant coach of the Celtics) as the head coach. This whole “Minnesota the state of hockey” thing was fun for awhile, but now the Wild need to get really serious and compete for championships year in, year out like the other powerhouses of the league (Detroit Red Wings being the best example).

Points From the Point: Minnesota Wild unveil new GM – Chuck Fletcher

 

Points from the Point:  Salvation Edition

By:  Bryan Vickroy

 

When the Minnesota Wild’s season prematurely ended without a playoff appearance, two major milestones occurred for the first time in franchise history:  coach Jaques Lemaire retired and owner Craig Leipold declined to pick up GM Doug Risebrough’s contract.  These two moves left the franchise in a position to lose the three assets the team had ever had, including Marian Gaborik’s impending free agency. Today the team started the task of building its new identity by hiring Chuck Fletcher as the new general manager.  The team plans to officially announce it at a Friday 4:00pm press conference. 

During the second period of a mid winter game, after the Wild choked away a three goal lead, after not doing anything at the trade deadline, I texted David Palmer.  I told him at that moment the Wild’s season was over.  I was right.  Risebrough did nothing to help the team offensively, and they failed to score enough down the stretch.  I started a campaign calling for the head of Risebrough, which Peter Christian gladly got behind.  When I heard Risebrough had finally been ousted, it felt like Christmas.

Fletcher comes over from the Penguins, where he recently served as assistant GM for the last couple years, overseeing the player development and shaping a team that is working towards a second consecutive Stanley Cup berth.  Before that he spent four years in Anaheim  as director of hockey operations, loading up a minor league system that showed its depth after this year’s trade deadline to beat San Jose and pushed Detroit to the limit.  He spent some time as an interim GM in Florida during his early years, cutting his team with a truly disorganized franchise. Fletcher is a Harvard grad, and also brings some marketing experience during a stint working for Hockey Canada.

What does this mean for a team whose player seemed to bristle at the style of play and attitude of management in recent years?  Even Lemaire hinted at this during his retirement press conference.  Risebrough was seen as passive among the hockey circles, and never seemed willing to strike a deal to help a team that badly needed an injection of offense into the lineup.  Injuries and poor play doomed the team this year, although the results wouldn’t have been much different.  The style is defense first, and players weren’t given the space to achieve the offensive brilliance that players like Mikko Koivu, Antti Miettinen, and the brittle Marian Gaborik, posses.

Fletcher’s first task is to dance with the devil and talk to Gaborik about a new contract.  His agent has stated publicly that the new GM would get a shot to resign the oft injured forward before he becomes an unrestricted free agent July 1.  For the sake of both, they need to get a deal done, if even for only one year.  Gaborik still needs to prove himself and the rest of the league that he can make it through an entire season healthy.  The Wild need the scoring punch that Gaborik showed he had in the last couple weeks of the season.  Without Gaborik the Wild have little to no scoring left on the team. 

A second immediate task of hiring a coach isn’t far behind.  The team needs someone who will let them run a little more offensively.  The team has speed and shooters, but being bridled with such a heavy defensive scheme hurt many players offensive abilities.  A coach who will let them be more creative will greatly help.  This roster knows how to play defense, and has stellar goaltending behind it every game.  Unfortunately, two coaches who I feel would have been perfect fits (Andy McDonald and John Tortorella) were both hired midseason.  I have now fallen behind on of Peter Christian’s movements:  Hire Wes Walz as the new coach of the Wild.  Walz has been coaching in Tampa since his concussion induced retirement.  A friendly face, and teammate of many on the roster, will help keep those core defensive principles together, while allowing the freedom to create goals.  Fletcher/Walz ’09 has a good ring to it.

Fletcher is a great hire by Leipold.  The 41 year old is the son of Cliff Fletcher, a former hockey exec who ran the Flames and Maple Leafs during Chuck’s youth.  He is considered one of the brightest minds in hockey, and will take the foundation that the Team of 18,000 has built. 

Keep it real, and as the great woodsman Red Green says, “Keep your stick on the ice.”