Setoguchi Going Back Back To Cali Cali

The Lockout claims another Minnesota player only this time it isn't Europe, but the Inland Empire of California.

According to TSN and confirmed on his Twitter, Minnesota forward Devin Setoguchi signed with the Ontario Reign of the ECHL and will suit for them Friday. While the Reign are not affiliated with a NHL team, they have hosted other players in the past for teams who don't have an ECHL affiliate. One such example was Minnesota last year with 2009 sixth-round pick Darcy Kuemper.

Happy Blogoversary! First Round Bust Turns 2

Today is for intents and purposes the second anniversary of First Round Bust. While Dan had the idea to do this earlier, our original introduction was posted back in the simpler times of October 29, 2010 when NHL hockey was played. Since then, we've had over 700 different posts from a variety of authors.

I'm not usually a sucker for anniversaries or blowing smoke about accomplishments but with the present climate, it is is a good time to reflect. This has been fun. Here on the blog we've profiled prospects, entertained with Bingo and gotten serious with unique analysis on the Minnesota Wild. First Round Bust has (at least in my opinion) done a good job finding a mix of seriousness and humor that works well together. A lot of credit for that goes to the different authors; each of whom has their own specialties and areas of interests.

However, it hasn't all been rosy. Just in the past year there have been some immense highs, some rock-bottom lows and a lot of false hopes. The fast start turned into a historic collapse and another first round draft pick left the organization.

And that doesn't include the fact we're still waiting to cover a Wild playoff game.

That isn't the point. It's easy to cover success and jump on the bandwagon but win, lose or shootout lose, everyone here has a passion for the team. Although we want to see success in the State of Hockey, if we didn't have a passion for the game and Minnesota, there would be no reason to write about them. This isn't a fancy news outlet and the site doesn't make money off of advertisement. It's just a cast of thousands (or really ten) keeping close to the principles outlined in that first post two years ago:
Welcome to First Round Bust, a blog about the Minnesota Wild and hockey in general. The name itself comes from the franchise's poor ability to draft and an honest take of ourselves. There's much more to come and plenty of fun all around so hopefully this takes off.
I'd like to thank Dan (who I think is the best untapped hockey mind in this market, Tommy (the webmaster/man who makes the site look ever so pretty along with being an author in his own right), Jarick, Tim (both of whom bring a fresh perspective into everything they write), the bevy of guest writers and anyone who has helped along the way.

Most of all, I'd just like to thank you, the readers, for continuing to come here day in and day out and more than doubling last year's numbers. Even when there are times when it is tough to come up with content, I feel like I owe it you to unearth something. You make it worthwhile and for that, here's to another year of First Round Bust.

2012 Minnesota Wild Prospects: #1 - Mikael Granlund

Mikael Granlund
Center, 5'10" 180 lbs
HIFK (SM-Liiga) 51 points (20G-31A) in 45 games

After two months of counting down from 20-1, the end is finally here. We've been hoping to put off #1 long enough to see him in a Wild uniform but with the current CBA climate that's not looking likely anytime soon.

Make It Work Moment...

I am going to attempt to add some more clarity to the fallout from the end of last week. Or... Maybe I am going to make things less clear.

The Players and their agents stated that their third, non-documented proposal saw an immediate drop to 50/50. The math that people like Allan Walsh were throwing around was, simply put, wrong.

Here is a pretty simple way of looking at it:
Estimated HRR: 3,274,000,000
Total Team Contracts: 1,775,818,000
Percent of HRR: 54.24%

If we are attempting to reach a middle ground where the players are paid the contracts they signed with the owners AND reaching a 50/50 split? That 54.24% of just the contracts owed against the estimated HRR means that is not possible without a clawback, escrow mechanism, or some other "make whole" concept.

Hence, the impasse...


I will admit, that this lockout is driving me crazy.

Simply put, as a former "C-Level" executive, the anti-owner crowd annoys me beyond belief. Sure, it was a made up C-Level (Chief Information Architect) but at age 25, I was still on the executive board of a failing dot com era big IT consulting company.

The players just don't get the business side of things. They throw out the label on how the owners are being greedy as if it is a bad thing.

The NHL owners, being businessmen, do. This select group of billion-and-million-aires accept the greedy label. Because they are and they know it.

The thing is, through all of this?

I am fine with Greed. As a pure capitalist, I fully support the players wanting to get paid what they are owed, I am fine with the owners trying to figure out a way to become profitable.

Greed. Is. Good.

The Man In The High Castle

On July 4th, The Minnesota Wild pulled off the unthinkable; signing both Zach Parise and Ryan Suter, two perennial All-Star caliber players in their primes, to matching 13 year, 98 Million dollar contracts, effectively keeping those two, both with local ties, in a Wild sweater until they decide to hang up the blades and the ax. The colossal signing sent shockwaves throughout the NHL landscape, signaling that Owner Craig Leipold and General Manager Chuck Fletcher intend this team to be a fixture when the Stanley Cup Playoffs year after year. Arguably the biggest foray into free agency in the history of Minnesota sports, the signings put the local fanbase into a tizzy, myself and the First Round Bust staff included.

This monumental occasion, however, is symbolic of what is currently going on right now- and if you check the boxscores from last night's NHL games, you'll see there weren't any played. Because yes kids, we're in the midst of another lockout.

Why I Don't Hate the Players or Love the NHL's Proposal

Within about 72 hours, the tide of public opinion has shifted completely in the favor of the owners.  I cannot understand why.

Why is there a lockout?  Because many of the owners are losing money.  Why are they losing money?  Because salaries are too high.  Therefore, the players need to take a smaller salary.  Makes sense, right?

"Hey Zach, let's ruin it for EVERYONE!"

My question is, how is this the players' fault?

Prospect Viewing: John Draeger vs. Minnesota 10/12-10/13

John Draeger, Defense
6'1" 189 lbs, 12/2/93
Michigan State University (NCAA)

I got a chance last weekend to watch 2012 3rd round pick John Draeger make his NCAA debut for Michigan State live at Mariucci Arena. While the Spartans were outclassed at times en route to losing 5-1 Friday and 7-1 Saturday, there were also times where Drateger shined in front of his family and hometown crowd.

So just like Dan has done in the past with Sean Lorenz and Erik Haula, I feel compelled to write a quick post.

This Is Your "Where We Shamelessly Promote Ourselves" Post

We don't have anything to do with Atmosphere but will shamelessly promote him too

Sometimes it's hard to find a balance between talking about things you've done and sounding like a pitchman who is so in love with himself and his slowly growing synergy empire. I know I'm proud of my work and things I've lent a hand in and want people to read/listen/see it. Twitter and other social media are great for that but at the same time not everyone who reads First Round Bust is on there.

So to try to toe the fine line between telling and bragging, we're putting all the extracurricular college, draft and podcast stuff in one post. If you want to see a lot of the things we've done off of First Round Bust the last week or so look after the jump and then comment on how much it sucks (because that's how the internet works). If not, that's okay too. You were warned.

The Return of Those "Erik Haula Beast Mode" Posts (VIDEO)

College hockey returned this weekend in a big way as the #1/2 University of Minnesota Golden Gophers started off the year beating Michigan State 5-1 Friday and 7-1 Saturday. Minnesota, who reached the Frozen Four last season, got a sense of revenge with the Spartans after MSU beat and tied them last year in East Lansing.

One of the more impressive feats sweeping Michigan State was that the Gophers scored 12 goals by ten different players. Minnesota showed off some serious depth this weekend and Saturday's game featured goals from all four lines. Only two players, Ben Marshall and 2009 Wild seventh round pick Erik Haula, scored twice against an overwhelmed team.

So that means the return of those "Erik Haula beast mode" posts.

What Should Be A Time Of Celebration...

Tonight should have been a great night for the State of Hockey; one to celebrate for the ages. It should have been the first Minnesota Wild home game in over six months. It should have been a chance for 18,000 rabid fans cheering the biggest offseason in Minnesota sports history.

But it's not.

Thanks to the NHL owners locking out the player association, 2012-2013 is the third time in 18 years opening night is celebrated in a way less fitting than Def Leppard slamming the Stanley Cup upside down. There are no European day games, no Canadian nationalism and no American fans getting ready tonight to watch the top professional hockey in the world.

There is, meanwhile, plenty of posturing and PR spin from two sides about to reach the second month of a labor disagreement.

2012 Minnesota Wild Prospects: #2 - Jonas Brodin

Jonas Brodin
Defense, 6' 1", 172lbs, Shoots Left
Swedish Elite League: Färjestads BK
0 Goals, 14 Assists in 94 Regular Games
4 Goals, 0 Assists in 25 Playoff Games

Selected 10th over all by the Minnesota Wild in the 2011 Draft held in downtown St. Paul, Jonas Brodin was a bit of a shocking pick to most of the Wild fanbase. Yet, before the draft, TSN's Bob McKenzie stated that if Adam Larsson was gone by #4, New Jersey was going to pick Brodin. His stock was rising as more and more scouts were looking into Larsson's shadow to see what was behind him.

2012 Minnesota Wild Prospects: #3 - Charlie Coyle

Charlie Coyle
Right Wing, 6'2" 207 lbs
Boston University (Hockey East) 14 points (3G-11A) in 16 games/Saint John (QMJHL) 38 points (15G-23A) in 23 games

It seems like yesterday but I remember sitting next to Dan and Tim at the Xcel Energy Center during the 2011 NHL Draft and hearing the bombshell announcement by Gary Bettman (I'll pause for a second so you can boo) that Brent Burns was traded to San Jose. The majority of the crowd was in stunned silence outside of a whoosh of "whoas" after the fan favorite's name was announced but there were quite a few people cheering when Devin Setoguchi was named as a piece coming back. Then it was silence again, except for Dan, when Charlie Coyle's name came up.

Mario Lucia Coming Along In Broken Leg Recovery; Likely To Play Before World Juniors

Just a bit of good news to get us through a long October day without NHL hockey. During today's WCHA media conference call, University of Minnesota head coach Don Lucia was asked about how his son - 2011 Minnesota Wild second round draft pick and current Notre Dame freshman Mario Lucia - is doing as he recovers from a broken leg suffered during an August practice. Lucia stated that Mario was ahead of initial schedule of missing the season's first three months and "hopes to begin skating October 25th."

He has already had his cast removed but has a few more weeks in a boot. Even with getting back in shape and on the ice, Mario likely wouldn't be back in shape before Thanksgiving; although with that timeline he would just miss three months instead of the season's first three.

It would also give Lucia the chance to be in shape to represent Team USA for the World Junior Championships (something Mario was looking to be in contention for before his injury)/

Obviously none of  this is a guarantee since setbacks happen and more of a best-case scenario. However, hearing from Coach Lucia that Mario is ahead of schedule is good news nonetheless.

Photo Credit: Bruce Bennett/Getty Images

"Classic Wild" TV Schedule

While flipping through the channels for Monday Night Football to get my Tebow fix, I came across a "Classic Wild" game on Fox Sports North. The Chicago Comeback from 2010 to be exact.

(For those of you who had "classic Wild game turns up in HD" on your Lockout Coverage bingo, congrats. That's a square.)

It's still on right now (which is 8 p.m. CT Monday October 8, 2012) if you are near a television and want to watch one of the great moments in Minnesota history. However, the surprising thing was that no one said anything with little promotion. After some searching it looks no one out of the Wild, Fox Sports North or the two beat writers said anything - there is nothing on or their social media and the only mention FSN has is their TV listings.

Here's the rest of this week's schedule according to Comcast Cable:
Wednesday October 10th - 7 p.m. CT (2003 Game 6 WCQ against Colorado) Fox Sports North
Thursday October 11th - 12 p.m. CT (same game) Fox Sports North
Friday October 12th - 10:30 a.m. CT (Game 5 of the 1981 Stanley Cup Final) NHL Network

Technically that last one is the North Stars v. New York Islanders but hey, close enough. It's disappointing that this came out of nowhere but compounded with the lack of coverage and caring this Lockout has gotten,  I guess I shouldn't be surprised.

Why Mikael Granlund WON'T Fail: A Rebuttal

Normally I wouldn't do something like this, but considering that the news considering the lockout has become mundane and aggravating, and that we're nearing the end of our Top 20 list, sometimes drastic times call for drastic measures.

You're doing what now? (Touko Yrttimaa)

Friend of FRB Daniel Chan wrote a piece over at Hockey Wilderness detailing why Mikael Granlund will fail at the NHL level. It was an interesting concept- Granlund is by and large seen as not just Minnesota's top prospect, but one of the best in the world; so the notion that he could end up being a bust is intriguing.


I'm here to tell you why he won't fail as an NHLer.

2012 Minnesota Wild Prospects: #4 - Mathew Dumba

Mathew Dumba
Defense, 6'0" 184 Pounds
Red Deer Rebels (WHL) 20-37-57 in 69 Games

So, yet another year that FRB whiffs on guessing who Minnesota will take with their first round pick- even though we did our homework on what they want in a player. While we were disappointed in that we got it all wrong again, as we learn more about Matt Dumba as a player and a person, it could very well be that Minnesota has hit a towering moonshot of a home run when they took him 7th over all this last June.

Kyle Medvec, Sean Lorenz & 3 Others Going to Disneyworld..err Orlando

Falling somewhere between the first five Wild games of the season being canceled and the Minnesota Twins gutting their coaching staff is the news that five Houston Aeros have been reassigned to the ECHL. From the Orlando website:
The Orlando Solar Bears announced today that Sean Lorenz, the captain of Notre Dame last season, has been assigned to the team. In addition, the Solar Bears have agreed to terms with forward Ryan Ginand and have added forward C.J. Severyn on a PTO (Professional Tryout) contract and defenseman Chris Haltigin on an ATO (Amateur Tryout) contract. Houston also assigned forwards Josh Caron, Rob Mignardi, and Nick Petersen, and defensemen Corbin Baldwin, and Kyle Medvec. The Solar Bears have released forwards Gary Klapkowski and Mathieu Melanson.
Medvec, a 2007 draft pick, spent last season with the Aeros while Lorenz, Minnesota's fourth rounder in 2008, was there for the playoffs after finishing his college career at Notre Dame. Both played in yesterday's 7-2 exhibition loss to Texas yesterday (which given the score may have played a role in being reassigned). The same goes for Baldwin, who signed an AHL deal after participating in the Wild's prospect development camp.

Regardless, it is a chance for AHL players to get more time; something that didn't exist last year when the Wild were without an ECHL affiliate

On the plus side, they do get to hang out with the best mascot in the world Shades. And Michael Jordan.

VIDEO: Mathew Dumba Sets The Bar High For WHL Goal Of The Year

Last year Red Deer Rebel Matt Dumba was one of two defenseman in the WHL to score 20 goals. This year the 7th overall pick made the most of his first goal of the season against the Saskatoon Blades.

Just your average "coast to coast speeding past two defensemen falling down on your knees and finding a way past the keeper" goal. Blake Wheeler would be proud.

(s/t "Hammer Slammer")

An Open Letter to Gary Bettman, the NHL Board of Governors, and Minnesota Wild Owner Craig Leipold

Messrs. Bettman and Leipold,

We here at First Round Bust love to play the numbers game: 6'1, 190 lbs. Seventeen-year old first-round pick. 20 goals. First in the NHL in December. 14 wins after the New Year. 13 year deal. $7.5M cap hit. We analyze numbers ad nauseam, at times over-interpreting their significance and at others dismissing them as hogwash.

But we want to make very, very clear to you that there is one set of numbers we don't care about whatsoever: those related to your lockout. In all of your and Mr. Fehr's blatant and patronizing posturing for fan approval in this lockout, you've utterly failed to recognize that we, as fans, don't give a damn about your financial situation. We don't care about percentages of hockey-related revenue, or amount left in escrow, or contract term limits, or percentage of revenue sharing, or capital in Mr. Jamison's bank account in Phoenix. We just want Hockey.
Your Legacy, Mr. Bettman

Here's one number we do care about: 2005. As in, the only major professional sports season to be canceled in full in the entire history of North America. Back then there was a compelling argument that certain teams (very possibly including our own) couldn't compete with others in free agency, and that a sense of parity was necessary. That certain beloved smaller market teams would be unsustainable without "cost certainty." Don't get me wrong; we hated that lockout. But there were some understandable concerns underlying it, and we, as fans, paid attention to that.

This is not 2005. The NHL has seen (and bragged about!) record revenue and record growth. You took away our season, you got your cost certainty, and your cash intake is through the roof––and that's why we fans no longer care about your accounting quibbles in the slightest.

To that end, here are some more numbers we do care about:

  • 9: Assuming this lockout wipes out the season, this will be the number of seasons in the past 20 years in which the State of Hockey has had no NHL team playing because of the preventable greed of a billionaire owner.
  • 32%: How much more expensive it is to take a family of four to a Minnesota Wild game than it was before the 2004-05 lockout "ensured cost certainty." The Fan Cost Index for the Wild has risen from $262 before the lockout to $346 post-lockout. This increase is noteworthy when considered against Mr. Bettman's 2004 remarks about the effect of "cost certainty:"

    "With the right economic system we can take the pressure off of ticket prices, and I believe with the right economic system, many, if not most of our teams, will actually lower ticket prices. I believe we owe it to our fans to have affordable ticket prices."
  • 200-level: The only portion of the Xcel Center for which season tickets carry enough demand to retain a waiting list. Fans want affordable tickets, but the reasonably-priced sections make up a laughably small fraction of the state-of-the-art facility. It's difficult as fans to sympathize with your desperate need for more money when you've already priced so many of us out of your games. If prices were going up in response to rising costs, that would be understandable––but we lost an entire season precisely so that costs would be directly determined by revenue.
  • 18,000: The number of fans (occasionally give-or-take a thousand) who have filled your building, night-in and night-out for the past four years, at great personal expense, to watch an utterly abysmal team that has failed in every possible respect.
  • 11 and 20: The sweater numbers of the new players who were supposed to turn this team around, to give the fans the quality on-ice product that a market like this truly deserves––and whose mammoth, $98 million individual contracts make us skeptical of your "troubled financial system," and expose your hypocrisy of complaining about an economic system which you designed and which you've deliberately abused and circumvented.
  • $450: A conservative estimate of the amount of revenue you have already lost from me personally during this lockout, between an NHL GameCenter subscription, a green Zach Parise jersey I decided not to buy until I was certain I'd actually get to see him take the ice, and a pair of opening night tickets I wisely decided against picking up on the secondhand market.
As fans, we care about the Wild and the NHL because they are our team in the best league in the world for the best sport in the world. But it also represents an emotional outlet––an escape and a relief from all of the many, many troubles of the world. For a few hours, a few times a week, we can come to the rink or hunker down in front of a TV, and let go of the troubles of economic distress and a horrible employment market or of a broken political system more concerned with posturing and leverage than with fixing the problems of its constituency.

Except we can't. Because not only have you taken our beautiful game away from us; you have actually managed to bastardize it into precisely that which we're avoiding. We're tired your petty quibbles; your large-scale spin campaigns and pathetic letters of apology to the fans that don't even include the words "apologize," "sorry," or "regret"; your utter failure to create a productive and positive environment for negotiations; your obstructionism for obstructionism's sake; and your willingness to so callously use and abuse the public, without whom you wouldn't have a team or an arena, as leverage. Not only does it mirror those politics we're trying to escape when we settle in for a night of puck; it makes Washington, D.C. look like a bastion of cooperation, productivity, and mutual respect. And you should be ashamed.

Mr. Leipold, your predecessor showed an astute understanding of this market when he focused his marketing efforts on the "State of Hockey." Minnesota loves the game first, and the Wild second. Once you and Mr. Bettman have decided to grow up, swallow your pride, and show some respect to the fans who give you your jobs and your power, let me know. You'll find me at the dingy municipal rink down the street, taking in some good, old-fashioned DIII college hockey the way it was meant to be played, free of politics and greed.

I eagerly await your reply.

Lockout Coverage Bingo

The work stoppage is an odd time for those who cover the game as they end up being shuffled around to other sports while still reporting on the NHL. It makes for an interesting timeline sometimes and because of that we thought it would be fun to unveil "Lockout Coverage Bingo." There are no prizes, however, it is all in good fun.

And that's needed in these dark dark times. Have a space suggestion? Leave it in the comments.


Refresh for a new board!

10/2 Wild Headlines: Lockout Song, KHL on ESPN3, Mikael Granlund & More

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, prospect and NHL-related links throughout the mainstream media and blogosphere.

Stop wearing merch during this Lockout to a kinda catchy tune? Why not, although like every fan initiative it likely won't do anything. (Goon's World)

Top 5 Monday: "Minnesota Rival" 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 (or a day that ends in a "y") 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?

As I'm writing this sentence the Gopher football team is playing Iowa for Floyd of Rosedale in one of the biggest games of the year for those who bleed maroon and gold. The date is circled on the calendar, fans are riled up and the Hawkeyes rarely leave people's minds; Minnesota fans love to chant "who hates Iowa...we hate Iowa!" regardless of the opponent on the field. This week had been hyped as "hate week," which rings true - the game still stings a couple days later after losing 31-13- and is one of the reasons why this week's top five list is on the Minnesota Wild's rivals.

2012 Minnesota Wild Prospects: #5 - Johan Larsson

Johan Larsson
Forward (C/W), 6'0" 200 lbs
Brynas IF (SEL) 36 points (12G-24A) in 49 games

The days of Johan Larsson (drafted 56th overall in 2010) being a footnote as the player taken with the pick Minnesota received for trading Eric Belanger to Washington are over. And that's a good thing.