By Michael Russo
Saturday, 12:50 pm update, Bouchard will be filing for arbitration, Veilleux already filed — as expected. See bottom of blog post for context.
Hey, hey, thought I’d jump on here real quick. Hope you had a terrific Fourth of July. I had a great one. Pretty mentally refreshing to be on a boat in the middle of a lake rather than sitting in front of my laptop with my cell burning up my brain.
As I’ve been reporting since July 1, the Wild has an offer in on the Vancouver Canucks unrestricted free agent. The two sides have talked a lot.
Morrison is expected to make a decision early next week, and I can tell you, the Wild has no clue which way he’s leaning. The offer is there. It’s up to him. I’ve been talking to my Vancouver colleagues for five days now about this, and the Vancouver Province has reported that Morrison will not be returning to the Canucks.
Originally, there was supposed to be seven teams involved. Scratch off Vancouver according to the Province, likely scratch off Columbus, which spent its bucks on Kristian Huselius. That leaves five, and it has been reported Toronto is no longer going after him. Down to four if this is all accurate.
If the Wild signs Morrison, the Wild will be picking up one of the nicest guys you’ll ever meet, a “great guy in the room,” as the hockey cliche goes.
Prior to his last two injuries — one major one in a torn ACL at the end of the season and wrist surgery in December — the former Hobey Baker winner played 82 games six seasons in a row.
Obviously he’s coming off reconstructive knee surgery, so who knows how that affects his skating. But prior, he had great wheels, great special teams guy, solid playmaker, good in the circle (which would pay dividends in Minny, as Russo’s Rants loyalists especially know because I harp on this deficiency ad nauseum during the season).
I can say, Morrison’s doctors have gotten in touch with all the teams involved saying his rehab is going well and he’ll be ready by training camp. It’s not clear if the doctors for the team’s interested in Morrison have gotten a chance to check out his knee personally.
Like I said, offer’s on the table. There’s no more negotiating from the Wild, at least. Decision is Morrison’s.
But like I’ve said, too, there is an alarming lack of depth as the roster currently sits — especially at center.
The centermen right now are Koivu, Sheppard (going to be great, still very young), Eric Belanger (dried up like a prune after the month of October) and Benoit Pouliot (very young, unpolished).
If Koivu goes down, it could be the John Tavares watch in Minny. OK, a little overdramatic, but you know what I mean.
I’m off today, but when I find out about whether Pierre-Marc Bouchard and/or Stephane Veilleux elect arbitration, I’ll throw it up here.
Just so you know, if they decide on arb, it means nothing. Don’t panic.
It’s just a formality to protect their rights. Negotiating can go up until the arbitration date, which would be set for later this month.
I just told a reader via email, of the 20 or 25 guys who elected arbitration in my 13 years covering the NHL, I’ve never covered one that actually went.
Even Bouchard, if the two sides can’t get a long-term deal done, it wouldn’t shock me if the Wild simply at the end of the day gave him a one-year deal at his likely arbitration price just to avoid the acrimony and costs that come from arbitration hearings.
If Bouchard gets a one-year deal, the Wild will have a major decision on its hands — continue to look to trade him or let him play and start negotiating again after Jan. 1. Remember, Bouchard is an unrestricted free agent next summer if he signs for only one year.
I can’t imagine the Wild would be willing to lose a talent like Bouchard without getting value in return. That’s a big asset to just throw away.
Bye for now, and enjoy your weekend.