Cal Clutterbuck


Wild prospect scrimmage starting; Burns coaching one of the teams

Sunday, July 12th, 2009

Live from the X, where a number of diehards have made the long trek out to St. Paul.

Prospects are warming up currently, and I hear a surprise is about to happen.

Brent Burns, dressed in Don Cherry garb, plans to coach one of the teams. Nice honeymoon!

Cal Clutterbuck’s coaching the other team. He’s dressed as Cal Clutterbuck.

This thing needs to start. Wild personality Kevin Falness’ Jumbotron features are driving me loco. And you know he rather be golfing.

Chris Snow just called Burns and said “where are you?” He goes, “In the room. Waiting for the scrimmage.”

Snow goes, “It started!!!”

Clutterbuck just ran to the ice. He only missed 10 minutes.

No score still. Darcy Kuemper, on the white team, just absolutely stoned Tyler Cuma from point blank.

Morten Madsen just gave the white team a 1-0 lead with a short side shot past Matt Hackett.

Green tied it. Harri Ilvonen or Kris Foucault got it.

Burns, while literally reading a magazine, didn’t realize there were too many men. Anthony Hamburg scored on a penalty shot. White leads 2-1.

3-1 white. Alex Fallstrom on a breakaway. 4-1 white. Erik Haula on a breakaway.

Burns pulled Hackett for an extra attacker. I don’t think he knows there’s a whole other half.

1,650 people here.

SECOND HALF

5-1 white. Madsen again. Burns’ is getting heckled by the fans. Clutterbuck’s just laughing from the other bench.

5-2. One shift after he and Petr Kalus got into a nasty wrestling match, Gillies scores from way out.

6-2…Hamburg again — the 17-year-old taken in the seventh round.

6-3…Gillies, making his brother Burnzie proud, just scored a beauty breakaway. As Mike Greenlay said, “Gillies schooling the youngsters.” Gillies is 20.

7-3…Carson McMillan from way out.

Burns pulling Hackett down 7-3.

Fridley’s Jarom Palmer just made it 7-4.

Clutterbuck talking smack to Burnzie. Game over. 7-4 White.

Good day.

Nearly 24 hours from free agency; Wild depth chart as of now; USA Olympic orientation camp roster; Mill named assistant to the GM

Tuesday, June 30th, 2009

I’ll be back on later this evening with a more in-depth free-agent primer, but I figured I’d jump on and say hello now.

I know there are all these Vincent Lecavalier rumors to Minnesota floating around the blogosphere, but I can tell you that yesterday morning, as good a source as you can possibly have from one of the two teams told me that “Vinny’s staying — 100 percent,” meaning he will not be traded before his July 1 no-trade kicks in.

I suppose if some deal knocked the Lightning’s socks off in the next 24 hours, that could change. But let’s be honest — it’s very doubtful the Wild has those assets to suddenly make the Lightning change its mind.

Essentially, as I mentioned on the blog last week, one owner wants to move Lecavalier; one does not. And both owners have veto power of any trade, so it would take a major philosophical altercation by that one owner today to put Lecavalier in another zip code.

Also, Lecavalier’s cap hit might be $7.7+ million in the next 11 years, but he makes $10 million in real dollars in the next seven. I just don’t see the Wild being willing take on that type of commitment in this economy.

It will be interesting to see if there are trades tomorrow. Remember, you can go 5 percent over the cap starting July 1 until training camp, so as often is the case, trades are agreed to at the draft and executed on July 1 (Manny Fernandez to Bruins, Marek Zidlicky to Wild, although that had to wait simply because that’s when Zidlicky’s no-trade expired).

The Senators have to trade Dany Heatley by midnight if they’re going to escape paying him that $4 million bonus.

Also talked to two sources yesterday — one exec, one agent — and both said they’d be shocked if Josh Harding isn’t traded in the near future. He’s got arbitration rights, and the agent thought he’d be owed a fairly significant raise just because of his goals against and save percentage last season.

Here’s a look at the depth chart as it currently sits assuming all the UFA’s go to free agency, so have some fun today, check out the free agent lists and you fill in the holes:

LW                              C                                RW

———                Koivu                          Bouchard

Brunette                Sheppard                   Nolan

Miettinen              Belanger                    Clutterbuck

Boogaard              Brodziak                     Weller

Potential candidates: Pouliot, Gillies, Irmen, Kalus

***I see the Wild pursuing a center, which would bump down the center spots and maybe put Brodziak on the right side and Weller in the press box; If they don’t sign a No. 2 center, maybe Bouchard or Pouliot gets that chance, which opens up a top-two line RW spot.

LD                         RD 

Johnsson              Burns

Schultz                  Zidlicky

Scott                      ———-

*** I see the Wild bringing in two NHL defensemen, meaning Scott could be the extra.

Goalies

Backstrom

Harding

***Harding is trade bait, and then the Wild would sign a cheaper backup goalie, and they grow on trees.

Kudos to editor/sportswriter Mark Wollemann for stepping in for me yesterday. The day off was very much appreciated.

Update: Negotiations are ongoing right now with Chicago and Pittsburgh regarding Martin Havlat and Ruslan Fedotenko, but if they are not re-signed, the Wild may pursue.

Update: USA Hockey announced the roster for August’s Olympic orientation camp. Here is the release.

The roster includes several Minnesotans or players with Minnesota ties: Tom Gilbert, Erik Johnson, Paul Martin, David Backes, Dustin Byfuglien, Phil Kessel, Jamie Langenbrunner, Ryan Malone, Kyle Okposo, T.J. Oshie and Zach Parise. 

Update: Wild at least having talks still with Stephane Veilleux.

Update: Wild has hired Jim Mill (not Nill) assistant to the GM and GM of the Aeros.

(more…)

Wild takes Nick Leddy; And let the picking (and trading?) begin; Sources: Kalus coming back to the Wild

Friday, June 26th, 2009

Wild takes Nick Leddy 16th. They passed on Jordan Schroeder … twice. Fresh blog in a couple hours 

Wild makes trade?; Chris Snow to Central Registry. Wild moves down, trading the 12th to the Islanders for the 16th and 77th they just acquired from Columbus and the 182nd. Wild now has nine picks in the draft.

I have this feeling Nick Leddy will be with the Wild. Just a gut feeling.

Hedman goes 2 to TB, Duchene 3 to COL, Evander Kane 4 to Hotlanta, Brayden Schenn 5 to L.A., … Phoenix on the clock with cheers of HAMILTON, HAMILTON (takes Larsson 6th); Kadri goes 7 as Burkie gets bigtime booed (he loved it); Scott Glennie to Dallas at 8, Jared Cowen 9 to Ottawa, Svensson 10th to Edmonton, Nashville takes Ellis 11th; Isles take de Haan at 12, Kassian to Buffalo at 13, Kulikov to FLA at 14, Holland at 15 to Anaheim

6:51 EDT: Star Tribune sources say Chris Pronger to Philly is “done.” Don’t know who’s going other way yet. Joffrey Lupul’s got to be going back to Anaheim plus other things. TSN’s reporting now it’s for Lupul, Sbisa and two firsts.

John Tavares does go No. 1, which is very funny. Word started to be leaked all around the place that Duchene was going 1, and you know that  came right from the Islanders table. Dater’s probably got half a Tavares feature written by now :)  

“I had no idea,” said Taveras, the London Knights star who used to play with the Wild’s Cal Clutterbuck in Oshawa. “I was just like everybody else wondering what the decision would be. It was a great moment and special feeling.”

Here we go, the Islanders are on the clock in nine minutes.

Also, and I’ve been working on this for a few days and I told you it wasn’t earth-shattering, but I am now comfortable reporting that according to multiple sources, prospect Petr Kalus is returning to the Wild. Kalus, 21, quit the Houston Aeros last October after being upset about not making the Wild. He only played 17 games in the Kontinental Hockey League and was miserable.

Kalus, a former Bruin, was acquired in the Manny Fernandez deal set up at the Draft two years ago. He will be at the Wild’s development camp July 6.

Tavares to fall to rival Avs?

Friday, June 26th, 2009

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Word from the Draft floor is that John Tavares may fall right into the hands of the Northwest Division Colorado Avalanche. That’s because word seems to be leaking from the floor that the Islanders plan to take Brampton center Matt Duchene with the first overall pick.

If that is indeed true, Tampa will certainly take standout defenseman Victor Hedman, which means Tavaras, the London Knights superstar who used to be linemates with Cal Clutterbuck in Oshawa, will get to play the Wild an awful lot.

Also, I was told by a source about an hour ago that Phil Kessel to the Wild was unlikely at that point.

Gushing about covering the Draft; Wild’s Summer Bash Thursday night; Draft Party at Tom Reid’s (not his house, his pub) Friday night; Russo Live Chat on Friday

Wednesday, June 24th, 2009

Bonjour from one of my favorite places, Montreal, where I’m readying to cover my 12th NHL Draft (Buffalo, Boston, Calgary, Florida, Toronto, Nashville, Carolina, Ottawa, Vancouver, Columbus, Ottawa and Montreal).

Twelve.

By far my favorite league event to cover. That’s because every single person in hockey shows up at the Draft, so as a beat writer, there’s no better place to be. It’s the one pro Draft where you basically have to be there to cover it because all 30 teams’ Draft tables are on an arena floor.

And usually, the teams I cover swing big deals at the Draft. The Wild’s traded for Pavol Demitra and Todd White at the Draft, and set up the Manny Fernandez and Marek Zidlicky deals.

And the Panthers, to quote Jacques Lemaire, “Oh … My … Lord.” They were busy bees at every Draft, especially Bryan Murray, who acquired Trevor Kidd at the Boston Draft in ’99 and Roberto Luongo and Olli Jokinen for Mark Parrish and Oleg Kvasha at the 2000 Draft.

The Panthers, with Chuck Fletcher playing a big part, acquired Val Bure and Jason Wiemer for Rob Niedermayer at the ’01 Draft. Rick Dudley traded the first overall picks at consecutive drafts. The Panthers tried to take Alex Ovechkin at the ’03 Draft — one year before he was eligible. They also, after I was covering the Wild, traded Roberto Luongo and Lukas Krajicek for Todd Bertuzzi and Bryan Allen at the Vancouver Draft and acquired Tomas Vokoun the next year.

Fletcher hopes to make some similar noise as the Wild’s GM, and we will see. He did learn from the one of the best, eh, blockbusterers in NHL history in Bryan Murray, and whatyaknow, BM the GM is about to execute yet another with some team with Dany Heatley.

As I’ve written, Fletcher doesn’t have a ton of assets he can deal, so there’s got to be the right fits and, as he said during last night’s interview, “the reality is there aren’t fits with most teams most of the time.”

Wanted to jump on and give you info on three events:

1) The Wild will have its Summer Bash on Thursday night at Rice Park in St. Paul from 6-9 p.m. Hockey-themed stuff, food and lots of autographs as the Wild broadcasters will be there, along with Nordy, Brad “Bomber” Bombardir and current players Derek Boogaard, Cal Clutterbuck, Colton Gillies, John Scott and James Sheppard — barring getting traded, of course :)

2) Tom Reid’s Hockey Pub in St. Paul will be hosting a Draft party Friday night starting at 5:30 p.m. The VERSUS telecast starts at 6 p.m. and Reid will have lots of information on all the draft-eligible players, as well as food and drink specials. And bring your laptops so you can still pay close attention to startribune.com/wild and startribune.com/russo, which will have live up to date information as it happens from the draft floor.

3) I’ll be hosting a live online chat on startribune.com Friday at 10 a.m., so be there or be square.

OK, I’m going to go stalk NHL execs, including ”Chucky,” outside the Board of Governors Meeting now.

Talk to you later, I am sure.

Talking Aeros hockey; Getting out of dodge for a bit

Friday, May 15th, 2009

Good day everybody. Just thought I’d jump on to say goodbye.
Not for good (unfortunately for some), but I’m heading outside the continental U.S. Saturday for a little more than a week. But I’ll have the cell phone, blackberry and laptop at my side, so I’ll be paying attention to the GM search as best I can on the sands of Hawaii.
How great were those Game 7’s last night, by the way? The conference finals should be extraordinary.
I did a Kevin Constantine story for Saturday’s paper. Remember, many considered him the potential frontrunner to replace Jacques Lemaire if Doug Risebrough was doing the hiring. But once Risebrough was fired, everything changed – for Constantine, too. Now his future is up in the air.
He should still be a candidate, especially after coaching the Aeros to at least the AHL’s Western Conference Finals. But it’ll be tougher for him just because of the perception he’s also a defensive coach, and the Wild’s new GM almost certainly will want to change the Wild’s style to a more up-tempo type in the post-Lemaire era.
I wasn’t able to squeeze in a lot of stuff about the Aeros, so I figured this would be a good venue for that.
Constantine never realized the Aeros had this run in them. After the team won its first four games, the Aeros battled inconsistency due to injuries and callups, including Cal Clutterbuck, Krys Kolanos, Peter Olvecky and John Scott.
Clutterbuck never left Minnesota after his Oct. 16 promotion, while Kolanos, Olvecky and Scott played a combined 72 games for the Wild.
“Whenever guys were gone, we weren’t that good to be honest,” Constantine said. “It just shows how much the players are the most critical factor in wins or losses. When we were healthy and had bodies, we put together runs.
“The turning point might have been when Kurtis Foster came down [on his rehab stint]. We won six in a row with guys like Foster, Kolanos and [Benoit Pouliot] all playing. So we went through stretches where we said, ‘Maybe this team has something.’”
Critics like me have blasted the Wild for not having much talent in the minors, and the reality is even though the Aeros have reached the AHL’s Final Four, they’re nothing without the scoring of veterans Kolanos (37 goals in 59 Aeros’ games), Corey Locke (15 playoff points) and Jesse Schultz (second-leading scorer in the regular season, injured right now), who all could become unrestricted free agents. And quite frankly, there’s a chance they all leave. Heck, a guy like Kolanos can probably make $1 million net in the KHL.
“Those guys carry us offensively, and then you try to wrap some detail around that,” Constantine said. “But I think there’s pieces here. I really do. I’m still a believer in Pouliot because I see talent and improvement. I just think sometimes in pro sports we’re not allowed to be patient, so sometimes it’s like now or never. But I think the guy’s going to be a good player. I don’t know what role. Don’t know if it’ll be a first- or second-line center role, but I think there’s a role for him as he matures through the business.
“[Justin] Falk, in the third [period Wednesday], looked like a very big, strong, calm defenseman. [Maxim] Noreau turned into a good defenseman. I don’t think the main future of the Wild are here, but I think there’s a lot of pieces here.”
Other bright spots include role players in Irmen and Robbie Earl, up-and-coming defenseman Marco Scandella, defenseman Clayton Stoner, who’s rebounded after years hampered by injuries, and goalie Anton Khudobin, who’s extremely unorthodox and raw but has carried the Aeros through the playoffs with injuries to goalies Nolan Schaefer and Barry Brust.
Remember, Carson McMillan’s there now practicing, and Cody Almond will be there too next year. And quite frankly, probably Colton Gillies.
Anyway, that’s my take on the Aeros. It was fun actually getting to see them play in Wednesday’s Game 7, 5-2 win at Milwaukee. 

I also wrote a Tom Lynn feature that should appear some time in the next few days on what he’s been up to the last month and the job he’s done in Houston – which makes him at least a candidate to be the Wild’s next GM – or certainly a GM in this league somewhere someday.
Chuck Fletcher and Pierre McGuire are still the frontrunners, I believe, but knowing Lynn, he probably impressed in his initial interviews with owner Craig Leipold. I still think Leipold’s at the very least a week away from naming a GM. To me, it was necessary to have a far-and-wide search, and Leipold’s done a quality job with it.
Like I said, I’ll do my best to keep tab from Hawaii. Talk to ya later Wild fans.