By Michael Russo
OK, I’m going to be as thorough as I can but very quickly because I have a flight in a little while and still have to write for tomorrow’s paper. Who thought your most stressful deadline of the new season would occur at 1:30 in the afternoon?
Technically, the Wild’s roster stands at 26 with the reassignment today of Colton Gillies. But it’s really at 23 because Craig Weller and Nathan Smith are on waivers. If they clear (and you can bet the Wild is praying somebody takes Weller because of his salary), they’ll be sent to Houston tomorrow. That’ll bring it to 24. However, Andy Hilbert’s tryout came to an end with what I predicted a few days ago from I think Chicago.
Hilbert works his butt off, but right now, he didn’t earn a spot in Minnesota. The Wild has, according to sources, offered Hilbert a two-way deal but told him he’d be put on waivers and start in Houston if he accepts. I’d think he’d take it because let’s be honest, if he thinks he can really get another NHL contract right now, well, that same team could just claim him on waivers. So it’s a no-lose. You get claimed by the team that would hypothetically sign you anyway or you at least have a job in the minors with a team that thinks enough of you to offer you a contract (meaning you’ll be one of the first recalls).
That brings the Wild to 23 players (really 22 because Derek Boogaard will start the season on IR). This brings the cap hit down to $55,011,827, which includes the $650,000 for Jaime Sifers, who looks to have made the team. This also means Benoit Pouliot’s on the team as well.
With one extra roster spot, this would technically allow the Wild to claim a player off waivers or even make a trade in the coming days. We’ll see if they do it. The only NHLers on waivers today that I recognized were Cody McCormicj, Jamie Lundmark, Rob Schremp, Brandon Bochenski, Ryan Craig and Adam Hall (Fletcher knows him from Pittsburgh, we know him from here).
Gillies was very disappointed. His eyes were welled as he talked to the media.
This decision signals a total philisophical change than the previous regime. As I’ve mentioned since mid-summer when I was predicting Gillies in the minors, there are people in this organization — both new and old — who thinks the previous regime’s philosophy of sticking junior kids onto the team was an injustice. Not only do you lose years toward their free agency, they don’t get to develop.
I’ve used James Sheppard as an example. He hasn’t played the No. 1 power play or given top-minute responsibilities in three years now. That doesn’t help development. That hurts. Sheppard can’t be sent to the minors because he requires waivers, but Colton Gillies doesn’t. And in order to play and get big minutes, he needed to be in Houston.
OK, I have to run, plus coincidentally, one of my best friends happens to be connecting through MSP right now. Talk to you tomorrow.