Listen to Dan talk draft & free agency on the Hockey Wilderness Podcast

Longtime readers may have noticed that we didn't do anything draft-related (or really anything for the last 7-9 months), one of our staples, for the 2014 NHL Draft last month. No "18 for 18," no insight on Minnesota draft-eligible players. In a way it's too bad because for once in the long, sad misguided attempts here I would have gotten the next first rounder. (Not that y'all believe me, however, incoming Boston College freshman Alex Tuch fits the mold of a Chuck Fletcher selection.)

The next best thing to get your fix is to listen to Dan on the Hockey Wilderness Podcast talk the Draft (and him attending it in Philadelphia), Minnesota's selections, Free Agency and what he's up to nowadays.

Do it? Do it. No seriously. Why are you reading this still. I'm just pointing out you should click the link above and listen to the podcast. That's it. This sentence is pointing that out. Why aren't you believing me? Click the ****ing link. Or click it here, I don't care.


Thomas Vanek comes home to pomp, circumstance & not especially extraordinary expectations

It's over. He's coming home. He's coming home.

In what is the most choreographed ending to Minnesota free agency since Andrew Brunette signed a 3 year contract minutes after he was allowed to in 2008, former University of Minnesota forward Thomas Vanek made it official by signing a three-year, $19.5 million contract ($6.5M cap hit) with the Wild.

Now the real fun begins.

It's Beginning To Feel A Lot Like The Postseason

No need to come a little closer. Six games between Minnesota and Colorado have made us a little crazy (crazier?). Six games have brought two teams and fanbases to the boiling point, or what the NHL postseason is supposed to be.

For the first time in years, there is no "we're happy to be here" feeling and instead the Minnesota Wild are hours away from participating in a winner-take-all Game 7 where there is no love lost.

There hasn't been any love for games.

Fugitive Air

Matt Cooke is going to be suspended by this time tomorrow for his Game 3 knee on knee hit that left Colorado defenseman Tyson Barrie out for the next month or more. If we're being honest with ourselves, he probably deserves to be sitting.

That's the tough part: being honest on the subject of Matt Cooke.

How We Land

Wait...wait...wait...wait...wait...wait..wait..worse things have happened to better people. That's the mantra.

With the weather in Minnesota striving to reach zero and the number of clothing layers on the rise, the above lyrics ring true as one year comes to a close another begins anew. Somewhere, someone is in worse shape, or at least that is how things feel. It has to be true. It does. It may even be a lie, but it is the mindset.

But weather aside, things are not looking up for the Minnesota Wild.

Summing up 2013 in 150 Words

Lockout, lockout, lock...over. NHL comes back and both Zach Parise and Ryan Suter make their Wild debuts. So does Finnish Baby Jesus, who gets to know Houston well. Bye bye Matt Hackett and Johan Larsson. Hello Jason Pominville's population. Playoffs. Yes we talkin' 'bout playoffs. First time in five years last just five games. Aeros move to Iowa. Suter almost wins Norris. No 2013 "First Round Bust," just a solid 2010 Isles version. Backstrom re-signs. No PMB, Cullen, Clutter, Seto, no problem. Matt Cooke signing freaks everyone out for a month. Former Gopher Keith Ballard. Waste August. A real start to the season is nice. Josh Harding continues to be the best story in hockey. Great start to the year, not so great end to it. Tough teams are tough. Heatley is in every person's dog house. Yeo's seat gets hotter. Erik Haula wore a Wild sweater. Good times.

(For a look back, here is the 2012 and 2010 versions - I guess I got lazy in 2011 and didn't do a summary.)

Prospect Viewing: Avery Peterson

(Helen Nelson)
Avery Peterson, Center/Wing
Grand Rapids HS/Sioux City (USHL)
6'2"201 Pounds 6/20/1995
Sixth Round, 167th Overall 2013 Entry Draft

The Edina Holiday Classic took place 12/19-12/21 last week, and it annually features the host Hornets, Eden Prairie, Elk River, and Grand Rapids. It is a treat for fans and scouts alike, as usually there is an abundance of talent on display, all the way from Phase I USHL candidates like ER's Matt Kiersted and Edina's Kiefer Bellows- to legit NHL Draft Prospects like EP's Luc Snuggerud and Edina's Tyler Nanne. 
A treat for us Wild fans was that one of their 6th round picks, Avery Peterson, was in town to play for his hometown Grand Rapids.

Buffalo Sh*t On A Nickel

So Minnesota caps off a decrepit road trip by beating Colorado 2-1 in a shootout, which continued the trend of the inability to do a number of things: draw power plays, kill penalties, and score goals on the road. Head Coach Mike Yeo classified last night's victory against Colorado, a team which despite its gaudy records when leading after certain points is bound to regress, a real "character win".

Which, I think, was said about the last time Minnesota played Colorado, where they lost in the shootout. That point ended a three game losing streak, just like this win ended a stretch where they lost 3 of the last 4 games, including the last three road games.

Character win.

Mathew Dumba's WHL Rights Traded To Portland

Mathew Dumba's development has been an underlying topic throughout the year. Minnesota's 2012 first round pick (7th overall) has burned through his nine NHL games yet hasn't played much recently. There is the upcoming World Juniors, which Wild GM Chuck Fletcher has stated he will be loaned out for, but for the most part Dumba finds himself in a middle of a development dilemma.

While the AHL is not an option and the only alternative besides playing with the Wild is a fourth season for Dumba in the WHL, the memories of past development mistakes is too soon.

2014 WJC: Minnesota draft pick Gustav Olofsson makes Team Sweden

Minnesota's top 2013 selection will be playing on the biggest prospect stage later this month.

2013 second round pick (46th overall) Gustav Olofsson, currently a freshman defenseman for Colorado College, was selected Thursday to play for Sweden's upcoming U-20 World Junior Championship team. It's a first for Oloffson, who has never played internationally for Sweden.