Dan Fritsche


Brodziak files for arbitration

Sunday, July 5th, 2009

TUESDAY ALERT: Still out of town, but Stephane Veilleux’s Wild career is expected to officially end today. I hear he’s close to signing a free-agent deal elsewhere.
The leaves defensemen Martin Skoula (most NHL games of any defenseman his age), Kurtis Foster (Wild rookie dman record with 10 goals), Marc-Andre Bergeron (14 goals last season, I think 61 goals the last six seasons – tremendous for blue-liner), Krys Kolanos, Peter Olvecky and Dan Fritsche.

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Recently-acquired center Kyle Brodziak filed for arbitration by tonight’s deadline. The Wild and Brodziak can negotiate a contract right up until the hearing, which will be scheduled for later this month or early next month.

Restricted free agent Josh Harding did not file for arbitration.
OK, that is it. I actually left town for a few days, so blog won’t be updated as frequently unless there’s news. Nate Taylor will have development camp covered and I’ll be back in time for the scrimmage.

Wild make qualifying offers to Harding, Pouliot among others

Monday, June 29th, 2009

Russo is flying now, so we post this as a favor to him:

Here’s the breakdown of the players who received qualifying offers from the Wild:

C Kyle Brodziak
LW Robbie Earl
G Josh Harding
RW Danny Irmen
LW Benoit Pouliot
D Clayton Stoner

And here’s the list of those who didn’t get offers and now become unrestricted free agents who can shop for a team starting July 1:

D Paul Albers
LW Riley Emmerson
LW Dan Fritsche
LW Peter Olvecky

Fritsche was probably the player most expected would be cut loose, based on the acquisition of Brodziak at the draft. So no big surprise there.

About Pouliot, Fletcher said: “We’re excited to see where he is come training camp. He’s had his ups and downs along the road, but (new coach) Todd Richards is excited about seeing him in camp. We want to see if he can push his career forward, take the next step. It’s up to him, but we want to give him that opportunity.”

He said not qualifying Fritsche and Olecky was a roster “flexibility” issue. About Olvecky, Fletcher said making him a qualifying offer might possibly have “made him eligible for a one-way contract. We wanted to keep the option open of a two-way contract.” So, by not qualifying him, Fletcher said he still held out hope that he could reach agreement on a two-way deal and keep Olvecky in the fold. Fletcher said it was important for the franchise to have as much financial flexibility as possible heading into free agency.

The NHL free agency period opens on Wednesday at 11 a.m., so stay tuned to this site for constant updates.

Russo will be back on later this afternoon to update this post.

Wild wants to host NHL Entry Draft; RFA refresher

Sunday, June 28th, 2009

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:

Here is the Insider on owner Craig Leipold talking about having the money to spend in free agency

Here is the Kyle Brodziak trade story

Here is the notebook on drafting two Shattuck-St. Mary’s roommates and improving the goalie depth of the club

Here is the roster situation

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……

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Walsh meeting with Veilleux today

Sunday, June 28th, 2009

Just about to pack up and leave Montreal. The draft here was a tremendous experience. The passionate hockey fans here were in glee with every who’s who in hockey being in town.

I can tell you, I talked with a lot of other team’s scouts out around town last night, and many were very positive about the Wild’s draft, the fact Chuck Fletcher accomplished what he said he’d accomplish with moving down and grabbing draft picks and the picks of Leddy and Hackett specifically.

Assistant GM Tommy Thompson raved about the move Fletcher made because he so wanted Hackett.

“[Goalie coach] Bob [Mason] was saying of Hackett, ‘You think we have any chance to get him?’ and I said, ‘Don’t get your hopes up,’” Thompson said. “That shows the benefit of the trade that Chuck Fletcher made. Without that pick, we don’t get Hackett. If he turns into an NHL goalie, look how important that is. It was nice to have some picks; that allowed us to take some risks later on.”

Real quick, the only bit of news right now is agent Allan Walsh is on his way to Minnesota to meet with new client Stephane Veilleux, a pending free agent. Remember, Veilleux acted as his own agent last summer but as I reported in April, he hired Walsh for this summer.

“I’ve had several conversations with Chuck Fletcher. Stephane’s first priority is exploring all options with Minnesota and we have expressed those feelings to Chuck,” Walsh said.

Free agency is Wednesday and Fletcher planned to take a lot of today and think about free agency and whether he plans to make offers to Veilleux, Marian Gaborik (he will here, I’m told), Martin Skoula, Kurtis Foster and Marc-Andre Bergeron.

There will be news Monday as the Wild must tender qualifying offers to its restricted free agents by 4 p.m. The Wild’s RFA’s are Josh Harding, Kyle Brodziak, Dan Fritsche, Peter Olvecky, Benoit Pouliot, Danny Irmen, Robbie Earl, Clayton Stoner, Riley Emmerson and Paul Albers.

As I mentioned yesterday, it certainly seems a possibility that Fritsche could be out in Minnesota.

OK, I’ll be back on later tonight to clean out the draft notebook. Assistant GM hiring and assistant coaches should be in a matter of days, too.

Chuck Fletcher on Brodziak trade, draft; Dan Fritsche gone?

Saturday, June 27th, 2009

Here is the Chuck Fletcher transcript, and I think I picked up on the end of Dan Fritsche’s Wild career. Right when they traded for Kyle Brodziak, I thought, “That makes Fritsche expendable.” I asked Fletcher if Fritsche will be qualified to retain his rights Monday, and you’ll see his answers below.

Talked to Todd Richards about Brodziak, too, for tomorrow’s paper. Remember, he coached him in Wilkes-Barre. You’ll see all that below and Tommy Thompson on the draft picks.

Chuck Fletcher

On Brodziak? Todd knows him better than I do. We shared a farm team with Edmonton in Wilkes-Barre three seasons ago and Kyle’s one of the leaders on the team and played really well for Todd and since then has had two successful seasons in the NHL. I got to know Kyle a little bit that season, and he’s a good fit for us. He’s a player who can slide up and down your roster. He’s a right-shot, he can take faceoffs, he’s well above average faceoff guy on the right side of the ice, he can also play wing, he can kill penalties, he shoots the puck well. So he brings a lot of versatility to the lineup and I think he’ll allow our coaching staff to give him different looks and move him around and bring some character and effort to the lineup every night.

Right-handed centers valuable? I think it’s very important, but he may be a right winger that takes faceoffs from the right side. That’ll be up to the coaches, but that element was very important. We were looking at other players here and they were left shots. I just felt the overall fit with Kyle was better for the lineup because of a) the familiarity of knowing him as a person and the fact he’s a right shot, the fact he’s second line, third line, fourth line, right wing, left wing, center. There’s a lot of things you can do with a Kyle Brodziak. There’s energy, there’s work ethic and there’s character.

Scoring ability? Clearly, I think he’s a better checker than an offensive player, but he’s a player that has scored goal in his career. He shoots the puck well and he’s a smart player and the way the game’s played now, you can’t just break your players up into offensive players and defensive players. You have to have every line who can contribute offensively and every line that can play away from the puck. The great thing about Kyle is he is versatile and if you put him out there will skilled players, he can shoot the puck when it gets on his stick, yet he is also very responsible.

In the works? Yes, going back almost a month.
Talked to him a lot last two days? No, a lot of things. Today the conversation shifted back to Kyle. We talked about it at different points in the draft.

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Wild’s Walking Wounded; Aeros sign former Hill Murray star; Carolina Classic

Wednesday, April 22nd, 2009

Just got back from like a six-hour walk — sandwiched by lunch with my editor. What an awesome day out, eh? Not a cloud in the sky.

One of the things I was thinking about is what training camp will look like next season. Strength and conditioning coach Kirk Olson might be the busiest person inside the Wild this summer — other than whomever the new GM will be.

Look at this rehab list as of now:

Niklas Backstrom — out four to six months following hip surgery Friday

Brent Burns — post-concussion syndrome and shoulder surgery Thursday that will require four months to heal.

Andrew Brunette — reconstructive knee surgery, out four to six months

Derek Boogaard — shoulder surgery Tuesday, out two months

Pierre-Marc Bouchard — concussion

(the way the B’s are dropping, Marc-Andre Bergeron better be careful walking across the street)

Nick Schultz — concussion

Tyler Cuma — still recovering from knee surgery

Oops, forgot Dan Fritsche – broken collarbone

Oh, and I forgot a fairly major one: Mikko Koivu — sprained knee

Essentially, the new GM will be inheriting a mess.

Also, the Wild signed Shoreview native Brian Kaufman to an AHL contract Wednesday to play next season for the Houston Aeros.

Kaufman, 25, played four seasons at Miami University, where he served as team captain this past season for the NCAA runners-up. The 6-foot-4, 205-pounder had 85 points in 125 games during his college career.

“Brian is a smart player with a big body who can play a variety of roles,” said Aeros GM Tom Lynn.

Kaufman played hockey and football at Hill Murray and still holds the Minnesota State record for passing completions (36 vs. Waseca in 2001), passing attempts (83, vs. Minnetonka in 2001) and passing yards (555 vs. Minnetonka in 2001) in single games.

Lastly, I just have to spend a few minutes gushing about last night’s Carolina-New Jersey game. It was one of the most amazing finishes I’ve ever seen. Carolina’s up 3-0. New Jersey rallies to make it 3-3. And, in a rarity, Carolina scores a buzzer-beating game-winner with 0.2 seconds left on a Jussi Jokinen redirection (there are fewer better GM’s than Jim Rutherford, and it’s just so fitting that Jokinen scores the winner after Rutherford snatched him up).

It was just amazing hockey. The rush from the final five minutes kept me up for hours. I was literally standing up watching it.

It was just back and forth, and the play-by-play from John Forslund and color from Tripp Tracy was scintillating stuff. You’ve got to listen to the two of them when Tuomo Ruutu pulled a Jarkko Ruutu and ran over Colin White in a monster check. The broadcast lived up to the action.

I also am posting the following still shot from YouTube of the game-winner.

Click the picture and notice the guy in a black CCM shirt sky-high in the air while strangely few others are cheering? That’s concidentally my buddy Reed Schafer, best known as the former star hockey player of the Nova Scotia Junior A Antigonish Bulldogs, Culver Military Academy Eagles and Indiana University Hoosiers club hockey team. He’s also the son of former Alaska Fairbanks and Notre Dame coach Ric Schafer.

And I think he’s blocking the view of small children with the rare chance of getting to see one of the most exciting playoff finishes ever. Well done there, Reed.

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