By Michael Russo
The quickest “tryout” in NHL history came to an end this morning when the Wild signed winger Petr Sykora to a one-year contract for $1.6 million.
“I’m shocked,” Sykora said sarcastically. “I guess my practice yesterday made them sign me.”
Basically, and this is where sometimes you wish you could write everything you knew for some time, but in these type of things, there are all sorts of immigration hurdles that have to be done. So Sykora was on a “pro tryout” until I’s could be dotted and T’s could be crossed when it comes to a work visa. So that’s why I had to be very clear a few days ago that Sykora WAS NOT signed.
But Sykora didn’t give up tax-free dough in Russia for a lot more money just to fly to the U.S. for a tryout. After rejecting a couple contracts last week and it looking doubtful that he’d come, he realized he was just 32, wanted to continue to play in the NHL and if he ever wants to play in Russia, those type of contracts would be there for him.
He’s given up, when you consider taxes, substantially more than half the money to play for the Wild this season.
I should have put up another YouTube clip this morning — Sykora calling his shot in Game 5 of the 2008 Stanley Cup Finals to my pal Pierre McGuire. Here is the clip.
So, what does this mean? The signing leaves the team $800,000 from salary cap ceiling with 24 players — one more than the maximum, meaning it’ll be much harder for forwards Colton Gillies and Andy Hilbert, and maybe even Craig Weller, to make the team. Or, at the end of the day, maybe Benoit Pouliot doesn’t prove himself and the team just risks putting him on waivers to get to Houston?
This all obviously depends on any future moves — i.e. trades (Wild kinda have too many centers, and you have to wonder where Eric Belanger fits) — or injuries.
By the way, contrary to reports, the Wild IS NOT in on Phil Kessel anymore.
Also, the Wild isn’t scrimmaging today.
Tomorrow’s Wild lineup: Belanger, Boogaard, Bouchard, Brodziak, Clutterbuck, Gillies, Hilbert, Irmen, Kalus, Miettinen, Pouliot, Sheppard, Burns, Lannon, Rogers, Sifers, Stoner, Zidlicky, Backstrom, Harding.
Tomorrow’s Blue Jackets lineup: Raffi Torres, Derick Brassard, Kristian Huselius, Jason Chimera, Samuel Pahlsson, Fredrik Modin, Trevor Frischmon, Jared Boll, David Liffiton, Grant Clitsome, Jonathan Sigalet, David Steiner, Fedor Tyutin, Dylan Reese, Rick Nash, Matt Calvert, Jared Aulin, Rostislav Klesla, Steve Mason, Kevin Lalande