Thursday, May 24, 2012

Granlund Watch Is Over

Yesterday, the Wild completed task #1 on their offseason to do list and inked their #1 prospect, Mikael Granlund to a 3 year entry level contract. The signing comes four days after Granlund and Team Finland came up short at the World Championships. Here is the video of Granlund announcing his signing:


For just about everyone, there was a lot to celebrate. The team had signed one of hockey's top prospects. He will join the team for the beginning of the 2012-13 season. The message was plastered across the team's website, and some of us (mainly myself), flocked to the Hockey Lodge to buy a Granlund jersey.

But, not all of us in the State of Hockey were buzzing over the Granlund signing. During his weekly SidCast, Sid Hartman of the Star Tribune went insane when Granlund was compared to what Ricky Rubio was for the Timberwolves. And at the very end of the video, he went as far to say "What a joke!" Ill save my rant on this for a different day. But the Wild itself had some comic relief on that subject this morning.

The Mikael Granlund watch is over. Now, we start looking ahead to the next task on Chuck Fletcher's offseason checklist: The NHL Draft. Then following that: Free Agency. Lets hope he can ride the momentum of this signing throughout the summer...

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Wild Interested Jordan Staal?

The offseason can't come enough for Wild fans. The team holds the #7 pick in the entry draft, they are expected to sign Mikael Granlund (The team's #1 prospect) to his entry level contract, and nearly $18 million of cap space so they could pursue notable free agents such as F Zach Parise and/or D Ryan Suter. But Sunday, the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review suggested that the Wild are one of four potential canidates to land the Penguins Center.

The article suggests that Staal would be a perfect leader for the team (Taking a shot at its current leader, Mikko Koivu), citing old Penguins connections with Chuck Fletcher (former Pens assistant GM) and Mike Yeo (former Pens assistant coach), so he would be familiar with Yeo's system. It then goes on to list who the Wild could offer in return, saying Cal Clutterbuck, Devin Setoguchi, and the team's #7 overall pick in the entry draft would be tossed around.

After I read this article, I came away with the following thoughts:
  1. There would be a surplus of centers. Should Staal put on the iron range red next fall, the Wild would have Koivu, Staal, Kyle Brodziak, and Matt Cullen all slotted in at center. Meaning, someone (Most likely Cullen) would have to take the demotion to the fourth line, unless they would accept a spot on the wing. And don't forget Granlund is a center, but one would think he will play wing for a year or two before moving into the middle.
  2. The Wild would be unwilling to part with Clutterbuck and the #7 pick. Despite what Josh Yohe (the writer of the article) think, the Wild value both of them quite a bit. Clutterbuck is a perfect player in the Mike Yeo system. He gives it 100% every shift, plays gritty, and can score a goal when is called upon to do so. And the team would be more than likely to draft a defenseman (something they sorely need down in the system) with the #7 pick, so giving that up for another forward would just not work out to Chuck Fletcher's advantage. As for Setoguchi, one could see the Wild be willing to part with him due to all the young forwards coming up in their system. And he is coming off a down year, so perhaps he could use a fresh start on a team featuring Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin as the top centers.
  3. Staal would have to sign an extension before being traded here. Staal is under contract with Pittsburgh for just one more year. So giving up a very good package for him would be a waste on just a one year rental. The team would need Staal to sign a contract extension (Probably somewhere around $7 million a season over 4-6 years) before they even think of pulling the trigger. 
  4. Who would be top line center? Mikko Koivu has been the team's #1 center for four years now. He's also been the team's permanent captain for three years. But in those years he has seen his share of wings come and go, and this past season it appears he found a good linemate with him in Dany Heatley. But a big knock on Mikko is he is not considered a top line center. He is more suited for a second line center spot. So should the team get Staal, it should be assumed that Jordan would man the top line center spot. But, it easily could go the other way too.
After taking all this in, I came to this conclusion: The Wild should not go after Jordan Staal simply due to the fact he would cost this team too much. There are plenty of teams interested in him, and even the package listed in the article would simply not be enough compared to what other teams can offer. They should and most likely will stick to going after the free agents with all the cap room they have.

It was a nice thought. But its one of those things you can try out in a video game, not real life.

Wild To Hire LaPanta

Late last night, Michael Russo of the Star Tribune reported that the Wild will hire FSN veteran and Gopher Hockey play by play man Anthony Lapanta as their new TV play by play voice. This news, coming three weeks after they told Dan Terhaar his contract would not be renewed. LaPanta will be the fourth TV play by play voice in the franchise's history joining Mike Goldberg, Matt McConnell, and Terhaar.

As Russo points out, the announcement was expected to come on Monday, but due to the backlash from the public on this matter, it has been pushed back (Most likely coming sometime today). As First Round Bust points out, the fact neither party thought that there would be backlash with decision is more disappointing than anything. 

What is disappointing to me, is that when Russo first hinted at this on Sunday, he mentioned that there was a lot of national interest in this position. Meaning, there was a few people, maybe someone from the national network (NBC Sports Network), made an inquiry about the position. But the Wild and FSN stuck to their first choice, LaPanta.

I'm not a fan of this decision, like the rest of us are. But, I also have to accept the fact the Wild believe in LaPanta as a play by play voice. I didn't get the chance to watch him much during the Gophers season. But when I did, he wasn't great, but he was by no means terrible (He does get players names correct more often than Terhaar did). So there is definitely room for improvement (Also take in to effect he replaced the popular Frank Mazzocco, so people already have a strong dislike for him.).

Whether you like it or not (And 99.99% of the public does not), Anthony LaPanta will be the Wild's play by play voice come October. And now the task for the Wild and FSN is to convince us he is the right man for this job. And they will need to do a whole lot of convincing. 

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Cheers to the Boogey Man

It was one year ago today, that former Wild enforcer Derek Boogaard was found dead in his Minneapolis apartment after taking a fatal mixture of pain killers and alcohol. Derek had just come off his first season playing for the New York Rangers (Registering his first goal after 5+ seasons of being held scoreless), following a 5 year stint as the Wild's top enforcer. Boogey was known for winning most of his fights from his shear size and ability th drop the gloves. But as we found out later, he had suffered greatly from all those fights. So today, we sit back and say "Cheers" to the memory of Derek Boogaard. And as I mentioned on twitter earlier today, he was taken from us far too soon.