By Michael Russo
Here is the Chuck Fletcher transcript, and I think I picked up on the end of Dan Fritsche’s Wild career. Right when they traded for Kyle Brodziak, I thought, “That makes Fritsche expendable.” I asked Fletcher if Fritsche will be qualified to retain his rights Monday, and you’ll see his answers below.
Talked to Todd Richards about Brodziak, too, for tomorrow’s paper. Remember, he coached him in Wilkes-Barre. You’ll see all that below and Tommy Thompson on the draft picks.
On Brodziak? Todd knows him better than I do. We shared a farm team with Edmonton in Wilkes-Barre three seasons ago and Kyle’s one of the leaders on the team and played really well for Todd and since then has had two successful seasons in the NHL. I got to know Kyle a little bit that season, and he’s a good fit for us. He’s a player who can slide up and down your roster. He’s a right-shot, he can take faceoffs, he’s well above average faceoff guy on the right side of the ice, he can also play wing, he can kill penalties, he shoots the puck well. So he brings a lot of versatility to the lineup and I think he’ll allow our coaching staff to give him different looks and move him around and bring some character and effort to the lineup every night.
Right-handed centers valuable? I think it’s very important, but he may be a right winger that takes faceoffs from the right side. That’ll be up to the coaches, but that element was very important. We were looking at other players here and they were left shots. I just felt the overall fit with Kyle was better for the lineup because of a) the familiarity of knowing him as a person and the fact he’s a right shot, the fact he’s second line, third line, fourth line, right wing, left wing, center. There’s a lot of things you can do with a Kyle Brodziak. There’s energy, there’s work ethic and there’s character.
Scoring ability? Clearly, I think he’s a better checker than an offensive player, but he’s a player that has scored goal in his career. He shoots the puck well and he’s a smart player and the way the game’s played now, you can’t just break your players up into offensive players and defensive players. You have to have every line who can contribute offensively and every line that can play away from the puck. The great thing about Kyle is he is versatile and if you put him out there will skilled players, he can shoot the puck when it gets on his stick, yet he is also very responsible.
In the works? Yes, going back almost a month.
Talked to him a lot last two days? No, a lot of things. Today the conversation shifted back to Kyle. We talked about it at different points in the draft.
Getting goalies? Drafting goalies have nothing to do with our nhl goalies. Right now we have two goalies under contract outside of the nhl, khudobin and brust, and they’re both in the last year of their deals. We really are very thin in the goaltending position and Hackett was a kid that our scouts really liked and they had him pretty high on our board and when he was available for us in the third round we didn’t hesitate. I think even if we had goaltending depth, we would have been looking at Hackett at that point just because we thought he was the best player available at that time. But certainly, he’s one of the top-rated goaltenders in this year’s draft, and to get him at 77, for us, the scouts were really happy.
Every draft your goal is to restock and replenish and certainly we hoped to do that coming in. I think we were able to do that. time will tell. We’ll find out in three or four years. Certainly with nick leddy, we added one of the premiere skating and puck-moving defenseman in the draft, a goaltending in Hackett, a couple kids in the fourth round. …That’s your plan every draft. Ultimately three or four years down the road we’ll find out what we actually did today.
Hackett, value of trade yesterday? It gave us some flexibility. Fallstrom was a guy our scouts identified and were hoping to get in the fourth round. When we were able to get the third round pick, it allowed us to grab Hackett earlier. We were fortunate to have that third round pick.
Trades? I’m not sure what happened here this week. I’ve spoken to a lot of managers about that generally and almost every one Ive spoken to thought the same thing I did, that there would be more activity here, that there would be more names moving, that there would be more money shifting hands and with a few notable exceptions, it was a very quiet week. Now whether things pick up in the next week leading up to july 1 or maybe a few weeks after july 1, time will tell. Certainly there’s been a lot of conversations. I know we’ve had a lot and I know others team must have had a lot. Time will tell. But it hasn’t gone as I anticipated, so the next two weeks should be really interested.
Unreasonable? I sure hope so. That would benefit us.
How solve this? That was my theory coming in and I’m not sure why more didn’t happen. I’m just being candid. We had a lot of conversations and things just didn’t go as anticipated. There seems to be a lot of money in the system right now and the cap is flat this year and potentially going down next year. Theres a lot of money already committed in the system. Eventually you would assume there will be players will salaries available that teams will be able to consume.
Qualify all RFA’s? No. How about I tell you on Monday?
Fritsche? How about we talk on Monday?
You won’t throw away Pouliot? Absolutely not.
Fritsche? We’ll speak on Monday?
Kalus? I can confirm I’ve had conversations with his agent that he wants to come back and I’m assuming he’ll come back. I see no reason why he won’t come back.
Voloshenko? He won’t be back. I don’t even know where he is.
Free agency? I’m not sure we have to be more aggressive July 1. We’ve had some ideas what we wanted to do in free agency all along if we weren’t able to make trades and we have some things we can do internally too with player shifting to different areas. I think we have some flexibility what can we do. I do believe having cap space is a very valuable commodity. I do believe if we have cap space, at some point we will be rewarded. I’m not sure we have to fill every hole the first week of July but what will happen will be a product of which way the market goes. If it’s a buyers market, hopefully we do well.
Assistant GM? We will have enough hands on deck. We’ll be prepared. … I think we should have everything in order by July 1. I’ll think about it this weekend.
And here is Tommy Thompson
â€œItâ€™s a global game and weâ€™re very proud of the way the Minnesota system has developed. Look at what Shattuckâ€™s done: Theyâ€™re getting world-class people, not just from Minnesota but from all over the world.
â€œI honestly believe thereâ€™s a psychological block for some people that if a player has been through the draft, theyâ€™re leery to take him the next year. He was the youngest guy eligible for last yearâ€™s draft. People looked at him as a good player who was weak as a kitten, and it was our regional scouts — actually it was Ken Xxxxx from Fargo — who said, â€˜You better get out and see this kid because heâ€™s got a different body.â€™
â€œHeâ€™s a big, solid guy; heâ€™s got a tryout offer from the Swedish world junior team; and his intentions are to go to Harvard. To some people that scares them; I think itâ€™s a credit to the guy. There are lots of players who come out of Harvard; some players canâ€™t spell Harvard.
â€œHaula is the typical kind of guy where you draft two or three guys to get one who plays. Heâ€™s got everything except the acceleration in his legs right now. If he gets stronger, he gets quicker and I think you might get a pretty good player there. This kid played for Team Finland at the Under-18 in Fargo. They won the bronze medal there with the big comeback win against Canada â€¦ This is top-flight hockey, and Haula looked pretty good to me.
â€œI talked to a lot of people while I was at the table today, and no one was more excited than Bob Mason. Bob and I went up to the Hockey Canada development camp two weeks ago because a number of the goalies that we were chasing were second-string goalies behind top guys. Itâ€™s fine to have DVDs, and our guys do a great job of analyzing them, but I like to see a guy in person.
â€œHackett last year was a 145-pound guy playing for Windsor. â€¦ The goaltending people from Hockey Canada, halfway through the year, said, â€˜This guy is coming on by leaps and bounds.â€™ I kind of thought, yeah, yeah â€¦ but the second half of the year he was good. Heâ€™s definitely a candidate to be one of two goalies for the world junior team next year. Iâ€™d say he and Jake Allen.
â€œBob was saying of Hackett, â€˜You think we have any chance to get him?â€™ and I said, â€˜Donâ€™t get your hopes up.â€™ That shows the benefit of the trade that Chuck Fletcher made last night. â€¦ Without that pick, we donâ€™t get Hackett. If he turns into an NHL goalie, look how important that is. It was nice to have some picks; that allowed us to take some risks later on.
â€œAnton, heâ€™s got a long ways to go to be an NHL goalie. We wanted to get someone who was a blue-chip candidate. Hackett was the No. 2 goalie on our list. Heâ€™s the body build Iâ€™m looking for — heâ€™s a lanky guy, very flexible going sideways. He stoned Windsor, which won the Memorial Cup, in Windsor. Thatâ€™s where I became convinced on the guy; then it was just confirmed when Bob and I saw him at the hockey camp.
â€œHeâ€™s an interesting guy. I guess, if you talk to him, he was like Ichabod Crane until last year. He was the third goalie in Spokane a year, year and a half ago â€¦ He wasnâ€™t going to play, so he went back and played triple-A midget in Saskatoon, made the Red Deer Rebels as a backup and played so well they traded their veteran guy. He was their first-string goalie down the stretch.
â€œI think heâ€™s just coming into his own physically.
â€œHeâ€™s huge, and as my own friend Glen Hall would say, â€˜Thatâ€™s the starting point.â€™ He takes up a lot of net. This is a guy who didnâ€™t even grow into his body until last year.
â€œWhether Josh is here or not, there is a gap there. â€¦ Thatâ€™s why we got one guy weâ€™re really excited about and one guy with potential. I donâ€™t want to sell a bill of goods on Kuemper until he comes into his own, but weâ€™re certainly optimistic on that.
â€œHe ended up winning the award as the MVP in the Western divisional finals. I saw three of those games against Brandon; this guyâ€™s got really good hands. In fact, Kelly and Paul said heâ€™s got the best hands on the team, and they had a championship team.
â€œHeâ€™s lost 18 pounds. I think the medial condition is called hypoglycemia, which is some sort of inability of the body to process sugar. I didnâ€™t really get into that, but itâ€™s be diagnosed. Heâ€™s fine, he just changed his diet patterns.
â€œCentral didnâ€™t invite him to the combine, so we had him do all the tests. We thought we had a good lead on him. Some teams probably didnâ€™t see him until late. â€¦ Heâ€™s a bit of a wild card, but, hey — itâ€™s like being up in a baseball game: You can take a nice, easy swing, or you can swing a little harder and try to get some results. With Foucault weâ€™re probably swinging a little bit harder.
â€œMedical reports say heâ€™s fine now â€¦
â€œHe played with their good players and looked like a solid two-way guy, but I never saw him this year at all.
â€œThe biggest leap of faith might be Anthony Hamburg.
â€œWe had good reports on him. He had a ton of points but I couldnâ€™t tell you the level of hockey; I never saw him play.
Who saw him? Chris Hamill, our New England scout we sent to Pittsburgh to cover the national midget championships. He was playing for the Dallas Stars; heâ€™s from Phoenix. Both of his parents are physicians.â€