By Michael Russo
Good afternoon. I know you all are anxious, but right now, the Wild is continuing to try to sign Saku Koivu.
I hear from sources that the hang-up could be term, and Saku Koivu’s desire for a fourth year. But this isn’t coming from his side or the Wild; it’s coming from another team who originally inquired about Koivu, so I should make clear to you that as of now, I haven’t reported it out to 100 percent certainty.
But this is the scuttlebutt out there right now.
One team that does make sense for Koivu is Anaheim because of his very close friendship with Teemu Selanne. But here’s the thing there: Selanne’s essentially on year-to-year contracts, so Koivu going there just for him makes little sense because Selanne could retire in a year or two. But the Ducks definitely need a No. 2 center and there’s not a lot left other than Mike Comrie, Jason Williams , Radek Bonk and Chad LaRose (and those are pushing the No. 2 center role).
I can tell you this via sources: Chuck Fletcher did call Mikko Koivu yesterday to ask his thoughts about playing with Saku, and Mikko gave Chuck the A-OK to pursue his brother. If you read my story in yesterday’s paper, you can see some of Mikko’s quotes to me from Tuesday. Just a late add, in that story, you can see Mikko say we’ll know more by the end of the week. Mikko said his brother would really take his time with his family to determine the best fit. Saku’s a smart guy, so it’s not a shock that he’s taking time to also think this through.
So we will see as the day continues. Wild is definitely still kicking tires on Ruslan Fedotenko, I’m told.
I’ve got a lot more thoughts on where the Wild plans to go from here, but before I throw that out there, let’s see how the day continues because a lot really depends on if they can sign Koivu. If they can’t, do you sign one of those other centers or do you maybe just go into camp and try Bouchard or Pouliot or Sheppard at the No. 2 spot or maybe there’s a potential trade down the pike this offseason?
Also, I got on the tail end of the Marian Gaborik conference call with the Rangers writers. Here are some snippets (Glen Sather sent one his European scouts to Gaborik’s home in Slovakia with a recruiting video, which helped greatly):
Turning point in career? “Of course. I’ve only experienced playing in the NHL for one team, and it was for nine years in Minnesota. I had a great time there. Obviously this is a big change and a big opportunity. Life brings a lot of changes, and this is one of them. It’s starting to hit me now that I’m becoming a Ranger. It’s very exciting and I’m looking forward to this. Definitely, the page has turned yesterday and I’m starting a new hockey life pretty much.”
On whether the Wild could have kept him? “Well obviously they could, but I haven’t received any offers in their new era there, so that’s the way it is.”
Will it be difficult to conceive that you won’t be here anymore? “It is what it is. I’ve moved on and now I’m a Ranger. I had a lot of great times. There are a lot of great memories. I have to thank the fans, from the coaching staff to all the players I played with. It was a great experience. Now I’m a Ranger. That’s what it is right now. I’m excited for a new opportunity.”
Did you do any investigations on what it was like to play in New York? “I’ve spoken to a lot of guys that played there. Chris Drury called me right before the market opened. I’ve talked to Martin Rucinsky, who used to play for the Rangers. I’ve talked to Marcel Hossa, and … Aaron Voros, obviously. They’ve got nothing but all the good things to say about New York. It’s a first-class organization and obviously to play in the Garden, everybody was impressed and everybody loved it. I’m looking forward to this. I’m excited.”
On health and whether teams were concerned about this? “It’s understandable some teams were concerned or worried, but I think I proven the last 11 games (10 goals, 8 assists), I had a pretty good run out there. We missed the playoffs by I think one or two points and that’s the way it goes. It was the first time for me to hit free agency. It was kind of adrenaline pumping through my veins, so it was exciting. I’m glad it’s behind me and I’m glad I’m with the Rangers now.”
On five-goal game and whether he’s spoken to Lundqvist? “(laughs) I haven’t spoken to him, but I’m sure we’re going to talk soon. That night was just unbelievable. He’s a great goaltender, but I guess when you’re in the zone and everything you touch is in, that happens sometimes. Hopefully I can have that kind of game in a Rangers uniform.”
Lastly, Pittsburgh Tribune Review’s Rob Rossi emailed me and said Rob Scuderi has agreed to terms with the L.A. Kings. Wild, I was told this morning, backed out of this when it saw his term, salary demands and the fact it could get Greg Zanon at the quality $1.9 million price.
OK, I’ll be back later hopefully with some news.