Where We Troll Nashville...

We like Nashville. It's hard not to - the Wild's expansion cousins have built a hockey culture from scratch in just over a decade, draft well and succeed on a budget. But with help from the First Round Bust web guru Tommy, we couldn't pass this up...

Mikko Koivu: Break The Spell Commercial

To be honest I have no friggin clue as to what this is about, maybe other than Koivu goes to Starbucks to order coffee and to Stella's Fish Cafe to eat Oysters- there are other videos for Nike's "Break The Spell" campaign- which must be newish, but its still a cool video nonetheless.

What Is To Become Of Matt Cullen, The Million Dollar Mensch?

Something that has been overshadowed by the euphoric last three weeks of Minnesota hockey was Wild center Matt Cullen donating a million dollars to Sanford Health as part of his Cully's Kids charity. Sure it's not the Wild getting both Minnesota-born Zach Parise and defenseman Ryan Suter, prospect development camp or even Nick Bjugstad returning to the Gophers for his junior season but every team needs a grinder to go beyond and above.

And raising a million dollars to help sick kids have a place to play is more than that.

Cullen is not the first Wild player to do something charitable in the health care field - Mikko Koivu donated two private patient rooms at Children's Hospital last year - and likely won't be the last. He's a mensch; however, with a slew of new characters the 35 year-old is just as overshadowed on the ice as off of it. That brings up a question: what is to become of Matt Cullen in 2012-2013 and beyond?

Erik Haula Cited For Misdemeanor Disorderly Conduct

Unfortunately for Minnesota 2009 7th round draft pick Erik Haula, "when you gotta go" wasn't really an option. Or an excuse. From Paul Walsh of the Minneapolis Star-Tribune:
An "extremely intoxicated" Minnesota Gopher hockey player stood on a street in Stillwater after bar closing time and urinated for others to witness, police said.

Forward Erik Haula, 21, was cited for misdemeanor disorderly conduct early Saturday and then turned over to a friend, whom police described as "somewhat sober."

The officer wrote in his report that he witnessed Haula "urinating while standing on Water St. on the west side of the Freight House [restaurant and bar] in plain view of the bar crowd after bar closing."
Haula, who led the Gophers this season with 49 points in 43 games and attended the Wild's prospect development camp earlier this month, isn't the first hockey player to run amok in Minnesota. The past few years has seen Jordan and Eric Staal arrested for disorderly conduct and Dustin Byfuglien for boating under the influence (which was settled this past week as "careless boating"). Although this is not on the same level - Haula wasn't arrested nor did it in an elevator - for someone who represents both the collegiate and professional hockey teams in Minnesota, being cited is disappointing nonetheless.

Top-5 Thursday: "Shades Is Awesome" Edition

Author's note: After watching High Fidelity and remembering how enjoyable it is to make top five lists with friends, I'm going to try something new. Every Thursday I'm going to come up with a top five list that involves Minnesota Wild current events. Is it original? Hell No. Does that matter?

We've been on a "creative break" for much of the week but have no fear, Top-5 Thursday is here. It seemed fitting that since First Round Bust has been on vacation, this week's topic should head down to Florida and cover the Minnesota Wild's new ECHL affiliate Orlando Solar Bears. The Solar Bears are a new version of the old IHL team, who featured such players as Todd Richards and Houston Aeros all-star Kirby Law, and begin play this year at the new Amway Center (I have to think the Wild have to be the only team to have two minor league teams play in the NBA arenas while they don't although there is no research to back it up).

They also have Shades, the coolest mascot this side of ice cream.

While Nordy, the Wild's wolfbearcatwhatever mascot, is slightly scary and not my cup of tea, Shades the Solar Bear is. Top five reasons are below.

The Substitution Game

From earlier this month, I held onto an insult in the Ryan Lambert article regarding the "the terribly convenient excuse of "Injuries!!!"" Frankly, it is already well documented how last season, the Wild were leading the league and then injuries uncovered the complete lack of organizational depth. I could re-hash the timeline, show why injuries caused the plummet, but at this point, why bother?

In looking towards the next season, several bloggers and even entire fanbases are making statements that are less than optimistic about the future of the Wild.  Will the Wild jump from a sad-sack, bottom rung, low chance lottery team to the play-offs? Any of the 30 in 30 columns so far have touched on the future of the Wild, therefore we will wait patiently for the collective insiders to express their opinions.

In the meantime, let us play The Substitution Game!

Guest Post: A Rational Response To The NHL Owners' CBA Proposal

Author's Note: My name is Tim Freitag, and I'm addicted to the NHL and the Wild. I've written in the past for Hockey's Future as well as the Winonan student paper at Winona State University as well as being included 4 times in John Buccigross's Blogumn. You can follow me @KariTakko.

I’m a little late to the party, but I’ve had some time to let the initial proposal from NHL owners sink in a bit. The thought I keep coming back to is that I hope NHL owners are not willing to take these negotiations to a lockout. I’m a rational guy and a rabid hockey fan, so I’d like to play arbiter and offer my suggestions for compromise. (As a married man, I’m an expert in compromise.)

Reduction in players’ hockey related revenues from 57% to 46%.

My primary concern with a dramatic change in how HRR is split is the fact that there may be a salary rollback similar to the last cba. This would be a major sticking point for a large contingent, and was a major point of contention in the last go round.

It seems obvious the players won’t accept what would be a reduction of 13.6mil to the salary cap next season. This proposal would also put GMs in a tough spot as 17 of the 30 teams would be over the cap. A reduction to 51% would be more likely, but I believe a tick down would be in order. This season, keep the HRR percentage for players at 57% and tick it down 2% per season. With the increases in the cap over the last few season, this would keep the cap about where it stands over the next 4 seasons until HRR is at 51%.

My opinion is this would be a more favorable compromise than rolling back player salaries. After all, these players were offered these salaries, and no one told the owners they had to dole out the money.

7/23 Wild News & Notes Around The Internet

Editor's note: It's been a while since we've done a post filled with links so between that guilt and knowing a couple of these subjects won't get their proper due, here are the best Wild and prospect-related links throughout the mainstream media and blogosphere.

It's that dead portion of the year where free agency is over, no one makes any moves (of course Rick Nash just got traded) and we're stuck with our thoughts and nothing of substance to write about. Or worse, having to go outside. 

The above picture came from Regan Bartel via Debi Sprugeon as Minnesota's favorite babyface defenseman got married last weekend. Congrats to Jared as well as new Wild forward Zach Parise on their weddings. Now on with the rest of the show...

Top-5 Thursday: Invitees At Wild Development Camp

Author's note: After watching High Fidelity and remembering how enjoyable it is to make top five lists with friends, I'm going to try something new. Every Thursday I'm going to come up with a top five list that involves Minnesota Wild current events. Is it original? Hell No. Does that matter?

Holy crap, it's Thursday and there's a top-five list! Yes, it's sad that being punctual would be surprising and I'll be the first to admit it. However, this brings the right day ratio up to 50% and hopefully will be the first of many consecutive Thursday lists.

Or else feel free to make fun of me.

While the rest of the NHL is discussing Shea Weber's 14 year offer sheet with the Philadelphia Flyers (if you haven't read Bozak's piece on the subject, click here), the big Wild-related news coming out today is that 2012 first round pick Mathew Dumba signed his entry level contract for a cap hit of $1.633 million. This isn't much of a surprise - last year's first round pick Jonas Brodin signed his ELC during development camp - and Dumba is a top-ten pick drafted from the CHL. He will be slotted into the future core like anyone taken that high. Best of all, if Matt isn't ready this season, the contract slides a year and is important because Minnesota already has 49 of a possible 50 contracts.

The only surprising aspect of Dumba signing now is that he doesn't turn 18 until next Thursday. It's easier to get these things done as a legal adult and the Wild have seemed to like announcing ELCs as a birthday present (i.e. Brodin, Charlie Coyle).

After the jump, the prospect theme continues with the top-5 invited players from last weekend's prospect camp scrimmages. And...

Redefining "Smashville"

In 2007, Craig Leipold was part of the sale of the Nashville Predators for around $193 million.

Last night, the Philadelphia Flyers threw an offer sheet at Restricted Free Agent Shea Weber.

The rub? 

The offer sheet that Shea Weber, the Captain of the Nashville Predators signed would see roughly $80 million going out to a single player in the first six years of the contract. If the Predators match, the organization would need to shell out $28 million to a single player in under a calendar year.

If you happen to live in Nashville and work for an office furniture company, you may want to give the Predators front office a call. There is good money to be made because they will need to replace quite a bit of smashed equipment and furniture.


More after the jump...

Bad News If You Rushed Out To Buy A #28 Matt Kassian Jersey...

NHL enforcer Matt Kassian is a fighter and does not back down. Except for when it comes to numbers.

The Wild forward, who re-signed for two years last month, is giving newly signed Zenon Konopka his number 28 to wear according to Kassian and Minnesota equipment manager Tony Da Costa. From Twitter:
Zenon signed a two-year, $1.85 million contract on July 1 as part of a Wild free agent class that includes Ryan Suter, Zach Parise and Torrey Mitchell.

One constant for Konopka in a span that has seen the forward go through four different organizations in five years has been #28. The 31 year-old even wore it when he fought Kassian last year (see above). While the battle over #28 between the two teammates wasn't as good as that fight, it ended peacefully; as all scraps between teammates should.

Kassian will instead wear #42, the number he wore with the Houston Aeros.

What Beef Is, Or Why Do We Boo Louie?

Sunday afternoon, during the pageantry of the post-game shootouts, each player got a chance to skate in on the goalies and do their thing in front of 7500+ people. There were cheers for the now well-known prospects- the Coyles, the Granlunds, the Zuckers, etc. some murmurs for other lesser-knowns and invitees (although Stillwater native Cody Corbett got a nice hometown pop), and amazingly enough, Louie Nanne was greeted with a chorus of boos.

That must have been a bit of a surreal moment for the Nanne family, stationed in a suite above the lower bowl; seeing their son/brother/cousin/grandson out there participating amongst some of the highest end prospects in the World, as a member of the Minnesota Wild organization- Louie Nanne was Minnesota's Seventh Round Pick in the last Entry Draft. A proud moment, no doubt, for those involved.

And he gets booed.


I don't get the animosity for someone who many people have never met- people in and out of hockey circles have told me he's a great kid with phenomenal character. He, as a player, isn't exactly a world beater, but plays with the characteristics that Minnesota looks for- he did make their "list" after all. Is it because he has the same name as his Grandfather, who is without a doubt Minnesota Hockey Royalty? Or that he lives in the affluent suburb of Edina, making him a "cake eater"? Is it that because his dad Marty also happens to scout for Minnesota, making Louie's selection look like nepotism?

If there is anything to be miffed about, its that Marty Nanne admitted that they didn't take the highest rated player on their list- a tremendous guffaw considering that it goes against the time honored cliche of "taking the best player available." However, we also need to keep in mind the curious nature of the late rounds of the NHL Draft. Tampa Bay took David Carle in the 7th Round of the 2008 Draft, despite Carle telling teams that he will never play competitive hockey again due to a heart condition. Philadelphia took Derek Mathers in the 6th Round last year after the Peterborough Front Office called Flyers GM Paul Holmgren on the Draft Floor and lobbied for him to select Mathers. Legend has it that Defenseman Pavel Kubina was picked by Tampa Bay because he was the "Czech kid with the giant head at the U-18's." Florida tried to draft Alex Ovechkin late in 2003 because then GM Rick Dudley argued that leap years made him eligible that year, despite his birthday being two days past the cut off.

Buffalo drafted a player out of Japan that never existed for christ's sake.

I saw it last year; once the 5th round hits, that's when you see staffs begin to get a little squirrely. GM's will wander around the floor and schmooze with media and fans. The process, which essentially is a year long in the making, wears thin late on the second day, and sometimes you get some zany results. Maybe that's what the Nanne pick is- nothing political, token, or nepotist about it, but that maybe it makes for a nice story. Something fun, but within the confines of the ideologies set forth by Brent Flahr's staff. A perfect storm if you will.

Louie Nanne didn't asked to be drafted by Minnesota, in fact he asked not to be. He didn't ask to be Marty Nanne's son, just as Marty probably didn't ask to be Lou Nanne's son. That being said, he's earned what he's gotten. His last name didn't get him into Select tournaments growing up, or in the Hlinka Memorial Tournament last Summer. Things like this did.

So why should he get all this spite and vitriole when he hasn't asked for it?

Minnesota Wild Development Camp 2012: Dan's Thoughts and Other Treats

You can check out what Nate thought about Sunday's Scrimmage right here.

I was one of the 7500 (!!!) folks who sought out refuge in the Xcel Energy Center to take in the dog and pony show that is the Development Camp Scrimmage. Fast paced and intense hockey it is not, although there was more physicality and open ice hitting than in years previous. In a way its basically a shinny showcase for the fanbase, a method of putting names to players and in a way gaining some knowledge on how some of these players are progressing.

I was bummed to see that Mario Lucia couldn't make it, although taking Summer Classes at Notre Dame is a pretty viable excuse. Last year he was every bit the gangly and semi-timid High School Junior playing against players sometimes 4-5 years older, so I was anxious to see how, after a stellar season with Penticton of the British Columbia Hockey League, how he played against the same guys he looked a tad meek against last year this time.

Minnesota Wild Development Camp 2012: Nate's Thoughts From Sunday's Scrimmage

The worst part about Sunday's Minnesota Wild Development Camp prospect scrimmage is that it's the last time all Wild prospects will be in one place for another year. Everything else was great.

From the players on the ice to the Xcel Energy Center announced crowd of 7,500, a thousand more than Thursday night and more than double last year's attendance, everyone was given a July hockey treat as the future was on in display. While Team White won for the second consecutive scrimmage, the final score isn't important. What is was how Minnesota's prospect individually performed and gelled together as their week together ended.

Top-5 Thursday: 5 Questions I'd Ask Michael Russo About His "72 Hours" Article

Author's note: After watching High Fidelity and remembering how enjoyable it is to make top five lists with friends, I'm going to try something new. Every Thursday I'm going to come up with a top five list that involves Minnesota Wild current events. Is it original? Hell No. Does that matter?

Another Thursday gone by, another Top-5 list held off until the weekend. I'm sure it's a pretty stupid thing to start off a project called "Top-5 Thursday" by having 2 of the first 3 lists on days other than Thursdays but with the prospect scrimmage and everything written this week, there hasn't been time. That should change after this weekend when the slow part of the off-season takes over and I'll try to actually post these lists on Thursdays.

Plus this week's topic is less of a list than actual questions.

One of the outstanding things about Minnesota signing both Ryan Suter and Zach Parise has been the coverage and no one did a better job than Michael Russo of the Minneapolis Star-Tribune with his "72 Hours of Pursuit, Anxiety and Elation" article. It's a thought provoking piece and goes to show what the Wild brass and Russo himself did throughout the free agency period before the duo signed matching 13 years, $98 million contracts. If you haven't read it, take a moment to do so - I'll be waiting. When you're done, I have the top-5 questions which came up on the other side of the jump.

Chuck Fletcher: Sans Caveat

Last night a crowd of roughly 6500 fans filled the Xcel Energy Center to watch what will become the life blood of the Minnesota Wild- a fairly low key scrimmage featuring a collection of young players who by and large bear the tag of "one of the best in the league." The future is always worth a look, although nothing is written in stone in terms of who will succeed and how this collective will play out, yet at the moment there is definitely a tantalizing element about it.

Somewhere in the arena, taking in the scrimmage with his lieutenants and charges, General Manager Chuck Fletcher surveyed his empire- not only does the scrimmage represent the future of the organization and "the vision", but the butts in the seats (more than double the attendance than last year) also represent a recharged belief in the job he's done. See, the week kicked off with a presser, introducing not just the greatest free agency coup in Minnesota sports history, but also in the National Hockey League's annals of time- 196 million dollars spent on the two top free agents, in their primes, who should finish their playing careers here; Ryan Suter and Zach Parise.

Two guys who not just make Minnesota a better team (subject to debate from the fancy stats crowd of course) but also immediately bolster the team's profile locally and nationally.

Minnesota Wild Development Camp 2012: Thoughts From Thursday's Scrimmage

As surprising as last year's 3,000/3,500 fans showing up in 99 degree heat for a pair of scrimmages were, this year took it one step further. The last two weeks have been a godsend for getting the State of Hockey excited about the Wild again and Minnesota announced Thursday night an attendance of 6,500 fans; most of whom weren't there in the odd chance Zach Parise showed up. To put in perspective, there were only 7 sections in the Xcel Energy Center lower bowl that were blocked off.

6,500 Fans Ready For Hockey (photo credit: Nathan Wells)
With such a great crowd that was full of energy -  there was even a child who made his own Stanley Cup and ran around with it like he earned a title - the prospect scrimmage did not disappoint. I was there once again taking notes and talking to folks (it was see some old and new faces and sorry to a couple people I didn't get a chance to catch up with) and my thoughts on what was a memorable 5-4 Team White comeback win in a shootout.

Minnesota Wild Development Camp 2012: A Quick Summary Of The Invites

Note: This week is the annual Minnesota Wild Development Camp for the majority of Wild prospects, who are split into two teams: Green and White. You can see the rosters here. There are two scrimmages at the Xcel Energy Center Thursday July 12th at 7 p.m. CT and Sunday July 15th at 11 a.m. CT and both are free.

Prospect Development Camp at its core offers three things to three groups of people. Draftees get a chance to receive advice and help from a NHL coaching staff while fans a rare opportunity to watch their team's future in motion. Lastly, invited players are able to make inroads and possibly one day get a NHL contract. This article is about the last thing.

Bringing in invited players is a good risk and reward. Minnesota has in the past had some invitees who have earned NHL contracts with the Wild (Colton Jobke) and others who have gone on to play for other teams (Matt Read of the Philadelphia Flyers, J.T. Brown with the Tampa Bay Lightning) as coveted undrafted free agents. This year's crop has a few intriguing names although a lack of contracts make it harder for General Chuck Fletcher to sign anyone. Blame it on Uwe Krupp.

Minnesota Wild Development Camp 2012: Team White Preview

Note: This week is the annual Minnesota Wild Development Camp for the majority of Wild prospects, who are split into two teams: Green and White. You can see the rosters here. There are two scrimmages at the Xcel Energy Center Thursday July 12th at 7 p.m. CT and Sunday July 15th at 11 a.m. CT and both are free.

Team White simply put is a Chuck Fletcher squad. There's some size and skill up front, players that aren't afraid to be pests and a defense that can move the puck around. Although White doesn't have the same name recognition of its opposition, there are quite a few players to keep an eye on as they make their way  onto the Minnesota Wild over the next few years.

You can also check out the companion Team Green Preview below or click the link.

Minnesota Wild Development Camp 2012: Team Green Preview

Note: This week is the annual Minnesota Wild Development Camp for the majority of Wild prospects, who are split into two teams: Green and White. You can see the rosters here. There are two scrimmages at the Xcel Energy Center Thursday July 12th at 7 p.m. CT and Sunday July 15th at 11 a.m. CT and both are free.

For the second consecutive year, on paper Team Green gets the edge in offensive talent while Team White is set more defensively. Both Wild first round forward picks (Mikael Granlund, Zack Phillips) are on Team Green along with the only two forwards who played for Minnesota this year (Jason Zucker, Brett Bulmer).

All that talent doesn't include last year's second round pick, Mario Lucia, who was supposed on Team Green but is instead attending summer classes at Notre Dame.

Yet Another Mikael Granlund Finnish Article Translated Into English

You can never have enough Finnish articles; especially when they involve Finnish Baby Jesus.

Last weekend, we had an article on Mikael Granlund getting Teemu Selanne's seal of approval as the 2010 first round pick and #1 Minnesota Wild prospect looks to make the jump from SM-Liiga to the NHL. This time, First Round Bust's Finnish expert Sampsa has translated an article from Iltasanomat.fi and was written at the same Bermunda charity tennis tournament the Selanne one was. However, this article covers the ongoing Minnesota's prospect camp, playing in the AHL versus the NHL and Granlund's take on the Wild signing coveted free agents Zach Parise and Ryan Suter.

The full translated article is after the jump.

Minnesota Wild Prospect Development Camp Day 2 Line Combinations & Other Thoughts

Yesterday was the first day that the 44 players at Minnesota Wild development camp were on the ice for a pair of sessions. The lines  from Wild.com:

(Click here for a larger picture)

The only two players missing from the original lineup are forwards A.J. Michaelson and Mario Lucia. Both freshmen-to-be (at Minnesota and Notre Dame, respectively) are taking summer classes to get a leg up on their college careers and will join the camp late. The "Howe" in goal for the White team is likely Colorado College senior goaltender Joe Howe, who is a Plymouth, MN resident. While he had a good freshman season, Howe was replaced down the stretch this year by Josh Thorimbert.

Other than that, everyone else was on a line in one form or another.

"Becoming Wild" Returning For A Second Season

One of my favorite things the Wild have done over the past seasons was last year's six-part miniseries "Becoming Wild." Airing on Fox Sports North and Wild.com, "Becoming Wild" gave fans a look at what the team did in the off-season. From the Aeros' run to the Calder Cup to hiring Mike Yeo as the third head coach in Minnesota history to trading defenseman Brent Burns and prospect development camp, the series was a great way to get fans excited for next year and getting to know some of the new players.

And it's coming back.

Season Two of "Becoming Wild" will start airing in September on Fox Sports North while short web vignettes come out now every Tuesday at 3 p.m.CT. The first, a three minute preview narrated by Anthony LaPanta, just came out and is below.

Hopefully this means that they won't air after Twins games - a problem that wrecked havoc with those DVRing the episodes - but with this summer's moves it's safe to say fans will have a lot to look forward. Add in taking fans out of the State of Hockey to go to player's hometowns, another small issue from last season that has been fixed, and I'm excited to see how high the ante has been raised.

We'll have reviews of "Becoming Wild" once they start airing on Fox Sports North Thursday September 6th. For now, there is more information on the "Becoming Wild" homepage at Wild.com.

WATCH: Zach Parise & Ryan Suter's Minnesota Wild Debut Press Conference

While it wasn't the Hollywood production that occurred in South Beach two summers ago, Minnesota had their own spectacle just inside the Xcel Energy Center Monday afternoon. Former Nashville Predators defenseman Ryan Suter and former New Jersey Devils forward Zach Parise made their joint debut as members of the Minnesota Wild after signing matching 13 year, $98 million contracts. The press conference was well attended by members of the local media and the two stars were clear about their goals.

Besides Parise and Suter reiterating the reasons they had to sign with the team and Minnesota owner Craig Leipold, head coach Mike Yeo and General Manager Chuck Fletcher discussing their joy, there was one surprise. When the two free agents put on their jerseys for the first time - Suter wearing #20 and Parise wearing #11 - both had the letter "A."

This likely means that last year's alternate captains, Matt Cullen and Dany Heatley (Nick Schultz was a permanent alternate before being traded to Edmonton), won't have the same responsibilities in 2012-2013. Whether or not having two players who just joined a team be given that responsibility is a good thing can be debated - and in fact, Heatley became a rotating alternate in his first season with the Wild last year - but today was all about Minnesota's $196 Million free agency splash.

You can watch the full press conference after the jump via both Wild TV and (if you're mobile) Youtube.

Responding to the Criticism II

I must have kicked the hornet’s nest with Friday’s piece, because there was quite the response both in the comments and on Twitter.

Upon reflection, I’m a bit embarrassed my stream-of-consciousness writing was sloppy...not that there were errors, but I could stand to flesh out my arguments explaining why, yes, I am correct.  Unfortunately I don’t get paid to write about hockey, and my actual job required some attention, so I had to rush through it.

I’m going to break down the two main points of contention in the original pieces: that injuries were not a legitimate excuse for the Wild’s failure and that the Minnesota Wild will be a below average team next year (and that can be proved with advanced statistics).

First, let me point out something I neglected to address in Friday’s article: I don’t expect the Wild to challenge for the Cup and made no boasts or guarantees about their success next season.  I firmly believe in intangibles such as chemistry and luck.  With hockey it’s incredibly difficult to predict the outcome of an 82-game season, let alone a best-of-seven playoff series.  Especially a year in advance.  So my expectations are that they will be much better offensively, somewhat better defensively, and likely grab a playoff spot (guessing 4-8 range).  This isn’t a team that is going all in for next year, but will be better over the next several with the growth of prospects.

Zach Parise on 1500: No Disrespect To New Jersey But Minnesota Is A Hockey Area

It's strange to think how just last week Dan wrote about the lack of media attention the Reusses, Hartmans and Souhans give the Wild outside of Parise and Suter Watch because of how much the team has taken over  the local discussion. I've been stopped by friends and family who would never read this site for my take on what Ryan Suter and Zach Parise bring to the Wild (depth, defense, goal scoring and of course raising the average cuteness).

In fact as this is posted, the two are being introduced at a press conference.

Honestly, that's great - the more people want to talk about the Wild the better; especially if comes back down to this rinky-dink blog - and seeing the team get away locally from what it is has been nationally, an irrelevant, "lets try to pawn these tickets on a rube" hockey club, is wonderful. Hopefully it expands to the rest of the team as the year goes on but for now we get interviews like Souhan and Tom Pelissero on ESPN1500 yesterday morning with Parise.

Jonas Brodin Invited To Team Sweden's World Junior Championships Camp

Sweden unveiled their 2012 World Junior Camp roster yesterday and it comes as no surprise that Minnesota Wild prospect Jonas Brodin is one of the 28 invited to the July 29-August 2 camp.

Brodin, First Round Bust's #4 prospect last year (related: look forward to a new prospect ranking coming soon), had four assists last year in six WJC games for the gold-medal winning Swedes. The 18 year-old (he turns 19 on Thursday) also played an integral role in the World Championships this past May. As the only defenseman who didn't play in the NHL, he managed to get regular icetime, scoring a goal in 7 games and being praised by a number of NHL blue liners.

Jonas is one of two returning defensemen for Sweden's U-20 team along with Farjestads teammate (and Edmonton Oilers draft pick) Oscar Klefblom. Brodin, the 10th overall pick in 2010, joins fellow Wild prospect Mario Lucia as players invited to their national camps.

Two other Wild prospects on Team Sweden last year, forward/captain Johan Larsson and goaltender Johan Gustafsson, are ineligible for the 2013 tournament after aging out. The 2013 tournament takes place from December 26-January 5 in Ufa, Russia.

Top-5 Thursday: Free Agent Signings Over The Last 10 Years

Author's note: After watching High Fidelity and remembering how enjoyable it is to make top five lists with friends, I'm going to try something new. Every Thursday I'm going to come up with a top five list that involves Minnesota Wild current events. Is it original? Hell No. Does that matter?

With a lot going on, it only took one week to get off the "Thursday" portion of Top-5 Thursday. That happens and given the events that went down this week - signing Torrey Mitchell and Zenon Konopka and OH YEAH Ryan Suter and Zach Parise - it made me have to reconsider the top-5 topic for Thursday (say that thirteen times fast). The original topic was going to be a callback to last week and involve the free agent snubs in Wild history with the following list:

5. Brian Rolston
4. Paul Martin
3. Saku Koivu
2. Marian Hossa/2008 Free Agency Class
1. Marian Gaborik

(Yep, listened to the reverse order folks.)

However, that's not really relevant anymore since Minnesota signed both free agents they (and most of the NHL) coveted. So instead, after the jump is this week's new Top-5 Thursday Sunday topic: the top free agent signings in the NHL over the last ten years.

Restocking The Cupboard: Louie Nanne

Louie Nanne
5'11" 165 Pounds Center
6/18/1994 7th Round, 188th Overall

With a name that is instantly recognizable within the local hockey community, the grandson of the legendary Lou Nanne heard his name called in the 7th Round, much to the surprise of his father Marty, who also happens to be a amateur scout for Minnesota.

The Edina Hornets Captain, who will head off to Penticton of the British Columbia Hockey League in the Fall before heading to Dinkytown in 2013 to play for The Gophers, led his team to the State High School Hockey Tournament, but fell short in their attempt at winning another title after winning one just a few years ago. Having seen Louie play a good number of times this season at various levels of skill, he stands just as good a chance as any late round pick of making the show.

Mikael Granlund Gets The Teemu Selanne Seal Of Approval

While top Minnesota Wild prospect Mikael Granlund has had his share of Finnish player endorsements - including this commercial - there aren't many higher than the Godfather of Finnish hockey, Teemu Selanne. However that's exactly what the current Anaheim forward did in this article from MTV3.fi (translated into English by Sampsa P.) while the two were at a charity tennis tournament:
Teemu Selänne is skating his career’s last strides whereas Mikael Granlund’s career is only starting. 
Granlund begins the next season in Minnesota Wild as a team mate to Mikko Koivu and Niklas Bäckström. Selänne has no doubts about 20-year old Granlund’s chances in the NHL. He is going to do just fine! I’ve always said, that if youre a smart player you’re going to be ok. Then “Mikke” adds all these other qualities on top of that, he is excellent with the puck and sees the game well, says Selänne to MTV3.fi 
Under 6 ft. Granlund could have had problems with his size before the lockout rule changes, but Selänne reminds that even similar sized Saku Koivu was able to make the break to the NHL. 
“Size isn’t as big of a matter as it was before. Saku came in at a challenging time. Hockey today is more skill based, huge colossals (players if this doesn’t translate too well) have disappeared from the game. It’s a win to the sport. Back in the days, small players weren’t even drafted no matter how good they were.”
Granlund, of course, will be in the Twin Cities for Minnesota's prospect development camp. It's another chance to dazzle fans and maintain his overall paintball badassery.

(h/t Sampsa for translating this article. If you link or take portions from it, please give him credit.)

Responding to the Criticism

Aside from death and taxes, one thing Wild fans are sure to suffer from is the ignorance of the national hockey writers.  How many times last year did we have to suffer through advanced stats geeks crapping on the best team in the NHL (in December), who boasted about their predictions which actually explained nothing at all?

So the Wild, you know that trapping team that Lemaire coaches, who play in the great State of Hockey, Minneapolis...they went out and blew $200 million on a couple of free agents.  Why?  Why would a team that was last in the league in goal scoring (actually the worst scoring team in the last nine years), go all in on a pair of free agents?  Just so they could go from bad to mediocre?

$196M and all I got were these two jerseys

Restocking The Cupboard: Daniel Gunnarsson & Christoph Bertschy

Daniel Gunnarsson
6'4", 191 lbs, Defense
Fifth Round (128th Overall), 2012 NHL Draft

In 2008, former Minnesota Wild General Manager Doug Risebrough used (what turned out to be his final draft pick) a fifth round pick to select a Finnish forward named Eero Elo after going to scout another player. The pick was so off the board it took well into round 6 before a placard with Elo's could be "found." He was never signed by current GM Chuck Fletcher and to this day he's often seen as a joke (i.e. a fictional player in the mold of Taro Tsujimoto) or an indictment of Risebrough's drafting.

Then there's overager Daniel Gunnarsson

Louie Nanne Is Heading To Penticton Next Season

One of the more poorly-kept secrets is now official as Minnesota Wild 2012 seventh-round draft pick Louie Nanne is heading to Penticton, BC to play for the Canadian Junior "A" champs. From the Vees' release
The Penticton Vees Junior Hockey Club is pleased to announce the commitment of forward Louie Nanne (94) for the 2012-13 season.

Vees Head Coach & GM Fred Harbinson likes Nanne’s well-rounded game, “When you talk about Louie Nanne within the hockey circles the one constant variable that comes up is work ethic. Louie is a strong two way player that has the ability to shoot the puck like a pro. I feel very fortunate that Louie has decided that the Vees and the BCHL will be his next step in his hockey career.

Parise Watch Day 4: There's A New World Order In St. Paul

Koivu, Suter and Parise. After getting Ryan Suter and signing him to a 13 year, $98 milliom contract, Minnesota adds Zach Parise to the fold for the same. Besides easily being the biggest free agency haul in Minnesota Wild (and pro sports in the state), Chuck Fletcher is some sort of genius salesman. Book him now.

July 4th is a great day for America and a great one for the Minnesota Wild. Last year saw Fletcher trade Marty Havlat for Dany Heatley and this year sees a pair of Americans (and one Minnesotan) sign with them in 2012.

Also for as much crap as Anthony LaPanta got when he was hired, at least he will a reason to be excited to call hockey this year. The days of having to sell the State of Hockey on the value of Jed Ortmeyer and Warren Peters as top-six players are over. OVER! The Wild have an elite goal-scoring forward in his prime, something they've been missing since Marian Gaborik left in free agency, and a #1 defenseman in Suter. They may not be Cup contenders next season but with those two the expectations are raised where it's playoffs or bust.

And after four seasons of missing the playoffs, those are some good expectations. Throw in one of the NHL's best prospect pools and the potential for a young superstar like Mikael Granlund in the balance and things are looking up in the State of Hockey.

More analysis later but for now we'll be out celebrating.

Happy Fourth of July Minnesota


 (Getty Images)

Ladies And Gentlemen...We Got Him.

Ryan Suter Agrees to a Deal with Minnesota.

Minnesota Announces Prospect Development Camp Roster

It's not Zach Parise or Ryan Suter (which likely will precede any post that doesn't involve the two until they sign in free agency) but the Minnesota Wild today released the roster for next week's prospect development camp in St. Paul.

Last Year's Festivities (photo: Dan Shrader)
The camp is an opportunity for the Wild and their coaching staff (along with Houston Aeros head coach John Torchetti) to work hands-on with their prospects and give them on and off-ice advice. This is one of the only opportunities to get most of their younger players and prospects in one place since they are spread out across continents and college players can't attend training camp. It's also a rare chance for fans to see them in person.

More on the roster and scrimmages after the jump...

Parise Watch Day 3: Say Shh (or) Bringing The Party To Minnesota

After Tom Petty cautioned us on how waiting was the hardest part yesterday and trying to exhale, the ongoing Zach Parise and Ryan Suter watch has now gone local.

(Cue Atmosphere.)

Restocking The Cupboard: Adam Gilmour

Adam Gilmour
6'2", 195 lbs
Fourth Round, 98th Overall, 2012 NHL Draft

The later rounds of the NHL Draft are tough even for the most dedicated Draft minds. Unless you work for a scouting agency or team, it's hard to know every single name and have likely at best seen the local players. Even the NHL Network avoids covering these later rounds in one form or another and discuss Day 1 stories or what happened last year while letting a dozen picks pile up. However, when one of those late-round names you've heard good things about drop to the team you cover, it's a great feeling.

Adam Gilmour is one of those names.

Waiting To Exhale during Parise/SuterWatch

#PariseWatch. #SuterWatch.

We're in DefCon 5- Mike Russo is making radio appearances every hour on the hour, and Twitter has become an endless reel of varying reports that are confirmed by the reputable media types tweeting them, even though they are contradictory.

Parise is going to Pittsburgh. Wait, no- Minnesota is in the lead..or is it Chicago now? Detroit is sending a contingent to Ryan Suter's Farm. Wait, Neil Sheehy hasn't heard anything about an SUV full of men in suits driving down a dirt road toward a piece of land in rural Wisconsin.

So what we know now is...not much more than before. Still in a holding pattern waiting to exhale. A perfect way to put it here in the Twin Cities; the nearly wall to wall coverage of Free Agent Frenzy is basically unprecedented. The last time the Minnesota Wild got this much media attention was what...the last time they made the playoffs? But its not so much the actual team or organization, nor Zach Parise, nor the dogged pursuit of him (and Ryan Suter, and the notion that these two are mutually inclusive is somewhat sketchy to me. But it certainly seems like if we sign one, we should be able to sign the other. What is this, the NBA?!?)

Its that subconsciously the signing of Parise, who seems to become the figurehead for the entire free agency period this summer, would mark the legitimacy of a franchise that is largely treated like a red headed step child in the local sports market. Part of it is circumstance- the former expansion franchise is only in its teenage years of existence whilst the rest of the Big Four- The Vikings, The Twins, and The Timberwolves- are all much older than that, with their histories interwoven into the fabric of the market. Despite the slick marketing slogan, The Wild basically suck hind tit coverage wise- a product of many of the notable sportswriters in town; The Souhans, The Hartmans, The Reusses, The Sansaveres, etc. simply not being "hockey guys." If you writing about the team because you HAVE to, and not because you are INVESTED in it, then you simply aren't going to cover it unless there is cannon fodder.

So, there is this do or die feel that underlies this holding pattern we are in. Death or glory- The team suddenly becomes very very relevant with the addition of local boy Zach Parise or Wisconsin Native Ryan Suter. Finally, someone with star quality signs with a Minnesota team! The extensive groundwork has been already laid in effort to ensure this team is built for long-term success by General Manager Chuck Fletcher, and the additions of two high end players in their prime only serve to expedite that. Visions of raising Lord Stanley's Cup are abound in people's heads.

However, what do we do if Fletcher strikes out? We simply turn away in disgust, even though things, for the first time maybe ever, look bright and sturdy and promising?

No one will give a shit about Plan B; its simply Parise/Suter or bust. Again we'll hear the familiar laments of not being able to sign or lure high profile players to Minnesota, and again The Wild will be cast aside, akin to putting a pan of bacon grease on the back burner to cool down and be dealt with later. No trade will bring in Zach Parise, or Ryan Suter, even though it may very well be someone of similar skillset and aptitude. It just won't have the pizzazz or flash that could very well take place pretty much anytime in the near future.

Why, I ask, does it feel that way? It feels so make or break, like things are hinging on whether or not these twenty-somethings sign the dotted line. I understand the PR boost that will come from it, but it doesn't have to be the end all be all.

Tom Petty Is A Wise, Wise Man

Day 2 of Zach Parise Watch leaves Minnesota (and every other team in the NHL) waiting for their gun him to sign after an announcement that whipped up everyone into a frenzy turned out to be a non-decision. Instead, Parise will fly home from his agent's headquarters in Toronto to discuss things with his family.

(Flights from Toronto to MSP land at 8:31 and 9:27 p.m. CT tonight. Not that it means anything)

The 27 year-old forward, meanwhile, has made progress.

With this information and tons of speculations, any one of a half-dozen can make a good claim to being the front-runners. For Wild fans, it would be coming to Minnesota to make a decision may lead to the hometown player making an announcement in the State of Hockey.

For Penguins fans, the longer the wait may mean that Pairse is considering leaving his New Jersey Devils for their Atlantic Division rivals. For the Flyers/Blackhawks/any number of mystery teams, passing Day 2 may mean that Zach saw an offer which he couldn't refuse.

And for New Jersey, Parise taking his time to make a decision could mean he hasn't been impressed with any outside offer.

Of course, the same can be interpreted that the longer time goes on, the less chance (Team X) has - for Minnesota, that would be the money they are rumored to be spending is less tantalizing - but that's the nature of waiting. And it's the hardest part.

7/1 Wild News & Notes Around The Internet

Editor's note: It's been a while since we've done a post filled with links so between that guilt and knowing a couple of these subjects won't get their proper due, here are the best Wild and prospect-related links throughout the mainstream media and blogosphere. 

It's here! Free Agency Day is finally here! The day the State of Hockey has been waiting for since Zach Parise signed a one-year contract and/or it became apparent first-line center Warren Peters wasn't going to lead Minnesota to the postseason. We'll find out soon enough if there will be riots in celebration or anger but for now, here's a look at some stories that may or may not been covered.

-The Wild celebrated their 15th anniversary of being founded last Monday.

Mathew Dumba
-While the last link post had Dumba's earlier blogs on NHL.com, it was missing the best one of all: being called on stage as the newest member of the Minnesota Wild.

-Video from the Red Deer defenseman following his selection (Hockey's Future)

-Tony over at Jacques Lemaire's Trap was happy with the pick.

-Same goes with SB Nation, The Hockey Writers, Sporting News and Puck Daddy.

NHL Draft
-Bryan Reynolds of Hockey Wilderness wrote a great critique on the Draft's TV coverage.

-Jess Myers on 1500 ESPN looks at Minnesota's tendency to draft physical this year.