By Michael Russo
Monday morning update: Since I’ll be in the air when the Wild announces which restricted free agents it qualifies to retain their rights, I thought I’d give you an explanation. Essentially, by 4 p.m., teams must tender qualifying offers to restricted free agents. If they don’t, those players become unrestricted free agents when free agency opens Monday and they’re free to sign with any team in the league.
Basically, to retain a players rights today, teams must offer 10-percent raises on players who made $660,000 or less last season, 5 percent raises on players who made $660,000-$1 million and no raise on players who made more than $1 million.
So, for instance, Kyle Brodziak made $497,500, so he’s got to be offered a $49,750 raise (10 percent). Benoit Pouliot’s salary if he had played a full year in the NHL would have been $765,000 (not including bonuses). So he’s got to be offered a 5 percent raise or a contract of $803,250. Josh Harding must be offered a 5 percent raise of $725,000. Dan Fritsche made $875,000, so to qualify him, he’d have to be offered a contract of $918,750 (5 percent raise).
And remember, this is just to keep them. This is before you actually negotiate the contract. If you take a look at the above, you’ll see a very good reason why the Wild might not qualify Fritsche today. He plays the same role as Brodziak might play, yet just to keep him, you’d have to offer him almost $1 million or $371,500 more than Brodziak to perhaps play the same role. If you let Fritsche go, that $918,750 could come in very handy when you’re trying to sign players in free agency.
Again though, we’ll find out for sure today. I was told by a few sources yesterday that Chuck Fletcher was trying to trade Fritsche the last few weeks. Obviously he was unable to, which could be a further clue that he might be let go today.
Sunday night blog: Good day from Vermont, where I spent part of the day on Lake Champlain. Other than the gnats, it was a good way to decompress from a busy week.
Here are the links from Sunday’s articles:
I’ll be flying home Monday, and as I’ve mentioned, there will at least be the news of the restricted free agents. When that comes out and perhaps other news, if I’m in the air, the blog will be updated from the office. So no worries.
Just thought I’d clean out my draft notebook from the weekend:
– Owner Craig Leipold loves the passion and hype and hoopla that comes with the draft, and he told me he’s looking to soon bring one to Minnesota for the Wild to host. Remember, the Nashville Predators — Leipold’s previous team — hosted the 2003 draft.
– GM Chuck Fletcher on free agency: “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.”
I did want to make one note on free agency after reading the Insider again today. I know I mentioned a lot of names in there. I wanted to make clear though if the Wild gets a star, that obviously inhibits other things like maybe the top defensemen I mentioned, etc. I don’t want you to think that IF they signed a Hossa or the Sedins, then they can go out AND sign a Beauchemin or a Scuderi.
The higher the price, the less money they can spend in other areas. If you looked at the updated salary chart in the paper, the Wild is roughly $13 million below the cap. However, if Colton Gillies plays in the minors, that frees up $1.04 million of cap space. However, remember, even though the cap is $56.8 million, most teams would want to be at least $2 million below.
As for the Draft……
– Uncle Jeff Hackett on third-round pick, goalie Matt Hackett: “You can only guide them, but he made himself. He was a good student. But he understands the process in front of him. That’s the one advantage of having a relative in hockey. Handshakes and smiles are good today, but he knows he has a lot of work.”
Matt Hackett on his style: “I’ve been told I’m a hybrid. I never heard that before. But I’m a butterfly. I feel I move side to side really well. I’m big in net – I try to make myself look big in net. I cut down the angle and have a good glove hand. I have to work on my puck handling.”
– More on fourth-round pick Fallstrom: He was draft eligible last year but got passed.
“He was the youngest guy eligible for last year’s draft (Sept. 15 birthday),” assistant GM Tommy Thompson said. “People looked at him as a good player who was weak as a kitten, and it was our regional scout – Ken Prost — who said, ‘You better get out and see this kid because he’s got a different body.”
The guy’s english is ridiculous. Barely an accent. He said it’s because his dad married a woman from England, so most his cousins are British. Basically, Shattuck went to play in Sweden five years ago and played Fallstrom’s team. Two years ago, they contacted him and “It’s always been a dream for me to play in the United States.
On playing at Shattuck: “It’s a great experience. It’s basically school and hockey. I think that’s the best combination because it keeps everything else out of your life and you can focus on school and hockey. I think it’s exactly why the school’s able to produce so many good hockey players.”
– On seventh-round pick Haula: “He’s got everything except the acceleration in his legs right now,” Thompson said. “If he gets stronger, he gets quicker and I think you might get a pretty good player there.”
– Edina’s Zach Budish on the Wild’s first-round pick, Nick Leddy, his roomie at the U next fall: “I’ve been good friends with him growing up and I’m very happy to see him go to the hometown Wild. He’s very deserving of going that high. Some people might have been surprised, but I think he’s definitely worth it. He’s going to be a top defenseman in the NHL one day.”
Budish on whether he wonders if he would have been a first-round pick if he didn’t miss all season with a knee injury: “You can say all you want ‘what if,’ but the reality is I went to Nashville and I couldn’t be happier. You definitely realize how much you miss the game when you miss a full year.”
– Lastly, Kyle Brodziak called me back this afternoon. I quoted him in Sunday’s paper courtesy of Wild Radio personality’s Kevin Falness, so an apprehensive thanks there to Falness. Brodziak seems like a good guy. He’s very excited, had a feeling he’d be on the move and says fans are going to love the change of style Todd Richards will bring. Brodziak played for Richards in Wilkes-Barre.
He noted how he’s had success against the Wild.
“I think it’s because I love the building, the atmosphere, so let’s hope that translates when I’m playing there all the time,” Brodziak said.
OK, Russo out.