Minnesota Wild Trade Deadline Thoughts and The Minnesota Wild Mailbag

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Minnesota Wild Trade Deadline Thoughts and The Minnesota Wild Mailbag
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Well alright.  Sorry about the delay in this post but, as many of you are sure to know, I was a touch busy over the last few weeks getting things ready for Hockey Primetime’s trade deadline day which, I’m excited to say, was a pretty large success.

 

Thank you to J.P. Hoornstra, Scott Rosts, Denis Gorman, Justin Bourne and Ms. Conduct for helping out in our trade deadline blog, as well as Dave Turner and Sam P. Woo for their coverage on HPT Radio, as well as the kind folks at Primetime Radio for hosting our show.

 

Let me tell you that, if you didn’t listen in, you missed one heck of a show.  The sound quality was top notch and the guests were on the same level.  My last shill of the day on this one...If you didn’t sign up on Primetime Radio yesterday, head on over there and register.  There’s some cool stuff that’s going to be going on the over the coming months I think.

 

Mailbag

 

Now, a while ago I asked for mailbag responses.  Well…I got a few and my response to these has been looooooooong overdue (at least by a month or so.)  So, with my sincere apologies, here are my responses to these mailbag questions.

 

Not sure if these would be interesting to anyone but me…

 

1. Why would the salary cap go down next year? Who and how do they decide that?

 

2. During warm ups before a game - are guys assigned to certain jobs? I’ve noticed that Sheppard clears pucks out of the net and distributes them around the ice. Brunette passes pucks to guys once at a time and they each take a shot. Is this punishment for doing something the coach didn’t like? Or do they rotate these jobs?

 

3. Can you explain (in short sentences) how waivers work? You hear that a player “was put on waivers” or “cleared waivers” but I haven’t figured out what that actually means and a Google search didn’t help!

 

Thanks for any light you can shed on these questions. Feel free to ignore them if they are not blog worthy.

 

-- Laurie/Minnesotagirl71

 

Laurie,

 

I can tell you that these questions were most certainly blog worthy.  The reason I know this is because I actually had to do a fair amount of research in order to actually answer these!

 

1. The explanation for how the salary cap is set isn’t an easy one.  Basically, there is a cap ceiling and floor.  You can’t go above the ceiling or below the floor.  This is determined by the assignment of a percentage of “hockey-related” revenues to player salaries.  The ceiling is the maximum percentage that the league allocates to player salaries, while the floor is defined as $16 million below the cap.  This is decided by the NHL front offices, though I believe that the Board of Governors also has a say in this.

 

Basically, the reason that the cap would go down is based upon league revenues.  If the league gains money, the cap is likely to go up.  If it loses money, the cap is likely to either remain static or decrease.

 

While I don’t have a line into the revenues of the league, my guess for this coming season is that the cap will remain static or drop a bit due to the hard economic times.  Not an indictment of anyone or anything in particular.  Just the reality of things.

 

2. You’re in for a treat on this one, Laurie, because this comes straight from the horse’s mouth.  Justin Bourne of Bourne’s Blog has been gracious enough to answer this question from first hand experience:

 

The jobs are pretty random - some guys like to be more focused and not worry about that sort of thing, while some guys like having an extra little role.  In general, the captain (or one of the assistants) will fish the pucks out of the net.  They’re sort of expected to, but if they don’t want to, they’ll just delegate - ask anyone in the dressing room if anyone wants to.  The drill where there’s one puck, and one player will pass it to whoever from behind the goal line for a bit, that’s a different one.  If takes more skating and effort, but for me, I liked doing that job because it made me move a bit, something I normally wouldn’t make myself do in warmup (also, it’s a little reminder of who is which hand).  Its definitely not punishment.  Just a team working out what works best for all the guys.  Somebody’s gotta do it!

 

3. Ah yes, waivers.  According to the current CBA, a player is exempt from waivers based upon this chart:

 

Now, if that was as clear as mud, the bottom line is this.  If you are a goalie and are on your NHL club at the age of 18, you have six years or 80 games (whichever comes first) in which you are exempt from passing through waivers.  For a skater at age 18, you have five years or 160 games (again, whichever comes first).  This counts for both regular season and playoff games.

 

It is counted as a season if a player plays more than 11 games in that season, which is why you can see players re-assigned to juniors after playing ten games etc.

 

If that doesn’t make much sense, don’t worry.  I’m pretty sure 90% of general managers don’t truly understand it either.

 

But, here’s the good part.  After a player is placed on waivers, there is a 24-hour period in which they can be claimed by another team.  If only one waiver claim is made on a player, they will be transferred to the club making the waiver claim.  If multiple waiver claims are made, the player will be transferred to the club that has the lowest point percentage at the time that the waiver claim was made.  So, for example, if Teams A, B and C make waiver claims on the same player, Team A has 6 points in 3 games, Team B has 3 points in 3 games and Team C has 2 points in 1 game, Team B would be awarded the transfer since they have the lowest percentage of points, not the lowest total points.

 

Hopefully that’s shed some light on it for you!

 

1. Any idea what big names will be free agents after the season and of those who if any can you see the Wild going after?

 

2. I’ve become a pretty big Wild fan this season, I live in Kansas City, but grew up in Houston who houses the AHL affiliate Aeros, which is how I choose the Wild as my NHL team.  My question is what is the relationship between the Aeros & the Wild.  Are they co-owned?  Is there a five year lease as affiliate?  Can I expect Houston to still be the AHL affiliate 5 years, 10 years from now assuming Houston doesn’t get the Coyotes or go belly up?

 

Will see Wild live for first time when they play Blues Jan. 14th, can’t wait!

 

--Brian

 

Brian, I hope to hear soon about how you enjoyed your first Wild game!  If you ever want to experience how a Wild game is supposed to be viewed live, too, definitely come up and see a game at the X.  It’s well worth the trip.

 

1. For free agents this summer, I don’t know that you’ll see the Wild make a huge splash.  Right now, the salary cap is expected to stay relatively close to what it is now ($56.8 million), and the Wild have about $45.454 million already spent towards the cap next season on 15 players.  What that boils down to is that it’s going to be tough for the Wild to get any huge acquisitions with around $11 million to spend on eight players.

 

That being said, Fletcher has been very good at finding the right players for the right prices, so nothing is out of the question.  With our first two lines fairly cemented, I think you’ll see Fletcher take a stab at some quality depth players this season unless he can manage to talk a player like an Ilya Kovalchuk or a Patrick Marleau into a long-term, cap-friendly contract.

 

The splash I think you’ll see the Wild make (and make no mistake, we need to make one) will be in the trade department.  We have restricted free agents Josh Harding and James Sheppard to potentially shop (Harding’s job is easily replaced for cheaper by Anton Khudobin, while Sheppard has never quite caught on here) and he has proved that he’s willing to pull the trigger on deals.  While no teams inquired about Harding at the trade deadline, he could be a very tempting player for teams who are going to have vacancies in net in the offseason.

 

2. To the best of my knowledge, Houston and Minnesota are both owned and run by Minnesota Sports & Entertainment.

 

While Houston does have their own executive staff, they are owned and run by MSE and managed by assistant General Manager to the Wild, Jim Mill.  While some affiliates are agreed to as a business deal, it appears that the Wild actually own the Aeros and it would stand to reason that their relationship would be one that would be longer than just a lease.

 

Trade Deadline

 

Alright.  Now that I’ve actually answered my mail (I promise a more timely mailbag next time around), we’re on to the move made yesterday by the Wild.

 

Plain and simple, it was inevitable that Belanger would be moved.  He had not been contacted for talks by the Wild and, despite his interest in staying there was no interest in retaining him.

 

To get a second round draft pick for a player of Belanger’s caliber is, in my opinion, a huge windfall for the Wild.  If you would have asked me if we would have gotten that high of a pick for him a few days ago, I would have laughed in your face.

 

It’s a win for Belanger because he gets to go to a contender, it’s a win for Washington because they get a solid defensive forward and it’s a win for the Wild because they get to make out like a bandit with a shiny new draft pick.

 

More importantly, though, I like the Wild’s trade deadline for the move that they didn’t make.

 

They didn’t trade Owen Nolan.

 

That tells you how much respect he has by the players, the coaching staff and the management.  Quite simply, he has earned the chance at a contract extension and I applaud Chuck Fletcher for giving him that opportunity.  I have been fairly outspoken in my belief that the Wild should afford Nolan every opportunity to retire in a Minnesota sweater, and it appears that they will do just that.

 

Next up for the Wild are the Edmonton Oilers on Friday at 8pm CST.

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