Mike Russo's Sunday NHL Insider

  • Article by: MICHAEL RUSSO , Star Tribune
  • Updated: November 24, 2013 - 8:13 AM

With last year’s lockout feeling like a bad memory, here are some story lines that few could have expected at the quarter pole of this season:

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reader8Nov. 24, 13 8:45 AM

Hey Mike, here is a challenge for you. Review the tape of the Jet game and find one play that Heatley made that was positive. EACH time he touched the puck he turned it over. Never did he make a play on the backcheck. He is terrible. Can you really explain to your audience why he is in the lineup? I know he has a $7Mil salary but why waste his icetime when a younger, more concerned player could develop. It is not like Heatley helps this team in anyway. You know as well as anyone that he is not too bright and he doesn't seem to give a crap.

caferevNov. 24, 1312:09 PM

Good stuff, Michael, as always. On the subject of the Wild....anyone that's paid attention to this comment board over the past couple seasons knows I'm, perhaps, the biggest Jason Zucker supporter around. Now, with that said--and to the chorus of boos that will surely ensue--I don't think Zucker really fits this franchise's plans going forward; he seems to be the odd man out, and it's obvious to anyone looking that Nino should be inked into the second line, with Granny and Pominville, where he seems most comfortable. (On the Zucker front, we already have capable young wings in Coyle, Nino, and Fontaine, and we have other talent chomping at the bit in Des Moines in the likes of Phillips, Haula, Graovac, and Brussiers, to name a few.) Thus, I think it wise the Wild looks to trade Zucker for a valuable piece THIS year. And this is what I think: While the Wild could certainly use a big, skilled defenseman, it also has a gaping hole at third line center...at least to anyone that cares to be objective about this stuff. Cooke and Fontaine have the ability to score, and with the lack of skill and playmaking ability of Kyle Brodziak, that talent is largely being wasted--on a team desperate for more scoring depth! Now, Brodziak has that debilitating contract. But the wild could use a solid, relatively skilled, playmaking center to make the third line into a legit threat, in order to take a real shot at the cup THIS year. So, why not find a team that has such a player (solid, playmaking cener) and package Zucker (the hot scoring prospect) and Brodziak (a salary dump) for such a player...even if it's only for the rest of this season? Then, you not only improve your offense for this season, but you also upen that third line center position next year and beyond for some of your better prospects in Zack Phillips, Erik Haula, and Tyler Graovac. AND you get out from under that ridiculous contract of Brodziak's WITHOUT wasting your second compliance buyout on him this coming off-season. Essentially, if a team wants Zucker for the playmaking third line center we're looking for, it must take Brodziak, too. And regarding the future and Phillips: can someone PLEASE hire Granlund's skating coach to work with Zack this offseason??? Phillips has the peripheral vision of Pele and the hands of a surgeon, but he seemingly skates in lead boots. Someone improve this guy's skating like Granny improved his this off-season and then ink this guy into the third line for the next half-decade.

rsmaggiemae1949Nov. 24, 13 3:32 PM

Like Parise said in the interview after the Winnepeg game, with the next 11 games coming up the Wild will be a good team or a not so good team, and I still dont think they are a cup contender, there are still parts missing If management sees the Wild lose points in the next 11 games they better start making some moves to help this team out. One nominee is Brodziak who does nothing at all for the salary he gets per year. He wont even hardly skate during the game, he gave up the puck to Frolik behind the Wilds net and gave it up to Ladd for the head on shot at Backstrom... he should go for one. Thier is a lot of dead weight on that team,who just dont seem to have any enthusiam for playing hockey 60 minutes each nite. I know Heatly will be gone next year, which is good, but the Wild should get a experienced extra goalie as you cannot count of Harding due to his MS AND the more I think of it Vanek would be a good fit for the Wild after watching him play for the Islanders ... If the Wild can hardly beat Winnipeg what are the next 11 games going to look like and then we will drop down in the standings and with 2 games with Colo it aint going to be pretty I have been watching Colo all along and thier only weakspot is in the backend, and they pinch the endboards and then the rush is on with great speed.... and probably Duchene will be back... Yikes

lbeezyNov. 25, 13 8:50 AM

I agree 100% with caferev. With the emergence of Granny, Coyle, Fontaine, and Nino, we simply don't have a spot for a player like Zucker. You can hide his defensive deficiencies on the top to lines, but then you are breaking up what has been working for those two lines. Just think once Brodziak and Heatley's cap hits come off the books. That is roughly 9 million of $ to play with. Might as well start with re-signing out youngsters & pick up a legit 3rd line center. My targeted UFA's coming include: Bryan Boyle, Steve Ott, & Dave Bolland. Anyone of those guys would be a solid addition to the 3rd line in the middle. We will need to replace Heater as well on the 4th. If' he'd come back on a reasonable 1-2 million per deal, I'd take him back on the 4th. However, that is unlikely and we should be able to replace him internally. If the Wild spend $ this offseason I hope it is on a physical defensive D-man.

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Pittsburgh - LP: F. Liriano 0 FINAL
Cincinnati - WP: J. Cueto 4
Tampa Bay - LP: J. Odorizzi 0 FINAL
Baltimore - WP: M. Gonzalez 3
Chicago Cubs - LP: J. Hammel 0 FINAL
NY Yankees - WP: M. Tanaka 3
St. Louis - LP: J. Kelly 1 FINAL
Milwaukee - WP: W. Peralta 5
NY Mets - WP: D. Gee 5 FINAL
Arizona - LP: B. McCarthy 2
Atlanta - WP: J. Teheran 1 FINAL
Philadelphia - LP: C. Lee 0
Chicago Cubs - LP: T. Wood 0 FINAL
NY Yankees - WP: M. Pineda 2
Cleveland - WP: Z. McAllister 3 FINAL
Detroit - LP: A. Sanchez 2
Washington - WP: D. Storen 6 FINAL
Miami - LP: M. Dunn 3
Seattle - LP: F. Rodney 2 FINAL
Texas - WP: P. Figueroa 3
Boston - WP: C. Capuano 6 FINAL
Chicago WSox - LP: L. Garcia 4
Kansas City - WP: D. Duffy 6 FINAL
Houston - LP: J. Williams 4
Toronto 0 Postponed
Minnesota 0
Oakland - LP: D. Pomeranz 4 FINAL
LA Angels - WP: J. Smith 5
Colorado - LP: J. De La Rosa 2 FINAL
San Diego - WP: A. Cashner 4
Los Angeles - LP: J. Howell 1 FINAL
San Francisco - WP: J. Machi 2
Chicago 86 FINAL
Charlotte 91
Indiana 101 FINAL
Orlando 86
Atlanta 111 FINAL
Milwaukee 103
Dallas 105 FINAL
Memphis 106
Detroit 111 FINAL
Oklahoma City 112
Houston 100 FINAL
New Orleans 105
LA Lakers 113 FINAL
San Antonio 100
Brooklyn 85 FINAL
Cleveland 114
Philadelphia 100 FINAL
Miami 87
Utah 136 FINAL
Minnesota 130
Washington 118 FINAL
Boston 102
Toronto 92 FINAL
New York 95
Golden State 116 FINAL
Denver 112
LA Clippers 104 FINAL
Portland 110
Phoenix 104 FINAL
Sacramento 99
Montreal 5 FINAL(OT)
Tampa Bay 4
Columbus 3 FINAL
Pittsburgh 4
Dallas 3 FINAL
Anaheim 4
Philadelphia 1 FINAL
Red Bull New York 2
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