Category Archives: Free Agency

Wild Agrees To Terms With D Mike Lundin

Looking to add some experience and depth to its defensive corps, the Minnesota Wild inked Apple Valley native and former Tampa Bay Lightning defenseman Mike Lundin to a one-year contract today.

Lundin comes to the Wild after playing parts of four seasons with the Lightning, including last year when he registered a goal and 11 assists in 69 games and added two helpers in 18 playoff contests.

After a stellar career at Apple Valley High School where he was a 2003 Mr. Hockey finalist, the 2003 Associated Press Minnesota hockey Player of the Year and the 2003 Star Tribune Metro Player of the Year, Lundin played four seasons with the Maine Black Bears of Hockey East. His best college season came in his senior year of 2006-07, when he talled six goals and 14 assists in 40 games.

From there, Lundin made the jump straight to the NHL, playing in 81 of 82 games during his rookie season. He then split his next two seasons between Tampa and Norfolk of the American Hockey League before staying with the Lightning all of last season. In his NHL career, Lundin has four goals and 29 assists in 224 games.

Lundin’s arrival comes after the Wild recently dealt Brent Burns to the San Jose Sharks. He’ll now join a defensive group that is expected to include Nick Schultz, Clayton Stoner, Greg Zanon and Marek Zidlicky with competition from Jared Spurgeon, Marco Scandella, Nate Prosser, Justin Falk and potentially others.

Wild Signs Gillies to Two-Year Contract

The news keeps on coming from the Minnesota Wild Hockey Operations department, with the latest announcement made at lunchtime Wednesday: the Wild has signed restricted free agent Colton Gillies to a two-year contract.

The 22-year-old left wing was a major factor in the Houston Aeros’ run to the Calder Cup Finals this spring. He tied the team lead with seven playoff goals and ranked third on the club with 12 points (7-5=12) in 24 playoff games. The 6-4, 208-pound winger posted 26 points (11-15=26) and 82 penalty minutes in 64 regular season games with the Aeros in 2010-11.

Gillies also played seven games with the Wild, scoring one goal, a tally in the Wild’s 5-3 win over Dallas in the season finale. For the first time in his Wild career, he has not been asked to skate in this July’s Wild Development Camp for prospects. Gillies will come into this fall’s training camp looking to stay with the big club, having previously skated 45 games with the Wild in the 2008-09 season, recording seven points (2-5=7). The native of White Rock, B.C., was Minnesota’s first-round pick (No. 16 overall) in the 2007 NHL Entry Draft.

Wild Signs Powe, Taffe; “Becoming Wild” Premieres July 8

Good afternoon, Wild fans!

There was plenty of big Wild news over the 4th of July holiday and there continued to be more announcements today. OK, so maybe today’s news isn’t quite at “blockbuster” level like the trade Sunday night, but there is certainly plenty of cool stuff to tell you about.

Firstly, Wild GM Chuck Fletcher announced this afternoon that the Wild has signed center Darroll Powe to a three-year contract and center Jeff Taffe to a one-year, two-way contract.  You’ll remember, the Wild acquired the 26-year-old Powe from Philadelphia for a 2013 third-round draft pick on June 27 and held his rights as a restricted free agent. He registered 17 points (7-10=17) and 41 PIM in 81 games for Philly last season, leading the Flyers with 196 hits and setting career highs in assists and points. The Saskatoon, Sask., native played three NHL seasons with the Flyers after signing as a free agent out of Princeton University. It was also announced that Powe will wear No. 14 with the Wild. Hear what Powe had to say about the contract here.

Many Minnesota hockey fans remember Taffe, the former Golden Gopher from Hastings. The 30-year-old notched 67 points (30-37=67) in 74 games for the AHL’s Rockford IceHogs last season, skating in one game with the Chicago Blackhawks. The 1999 Mr. Hockey Minnesota has posted 44 points in 175 NHL games with Phoenix, the New York Rangers, Pittsburgh, Florida and Chicago. Stay up to date with all of the Wild signings on the transactions page and contract chart on wild.com

Of course, many fans are still talking about the trade the Wild made Sunday night with San Jose, acquiring Dany Heatley for Martin Havlat. If you were too busy having picnics and lighting fireworks to get all of the details on the deal, click here for audio, video and more. The Hockey Lodge also sent over the first photo of Heatley’s new Wild jersey, which is currently available at the Xcel Energy Center Hockey Lodge location and is available for pre-orders on hockeylodge.com. It’ll take some time to get used to the new names on the No. 10 and 15 jerseys, but there have been plenty of fans making us aware that they are excited to see the former Sharks skate with the Wild.

Secondly, the Wild also announced today that it has named John Torchetti as new head coach of the Houston Aeros. Torchetti fills the spot of Mike Yeo, who of course left Houston to become the new Wild head coach. The 46-year-old Boston native comes to the Aeros after serving as an associate coach for the Atlanta Thrashers last season. His 27 years of professional hockey experience as a player, coach and manager include NHL coaching experience with Tampa Bay, Florida, Los Angeles, Chicago and Atlanta. For the full announcement and audio of Torchetti’s reaction to the announcement, click here.

Finally, the Wild announced a really cool project with FOX Sports North and Olson that I’d bet Wild fans will love. “Becoming Wild,” presented by Toyota, is a six-part TV series that documents the Wild offseason through unprecedented, behind-the-scenes coverage of the hockey operations department. I’d say it’s similar to the NHL’s 24-7 series on HBO this year. One of the best parts about the series, which will premiere on July 8 after the Twins game on FS North, is that filming started before any of this summer’s excitement and drama happened, meaning it was caught on camera and fans will get to see it. For more on the series, including broadcast dates and clips of the premiere episode, click here. Outtakes and full episodes will be available on wild.com after the premiere of that episode airs on FS North. I was lucky enough to get to watch the first episode, which covers the Aeros run to the Calder Cup Finals, and will tell you two things: 1. I don’t know how anyone will watch the episode and not be incredibly excited to see Mike Yeo coach the Wild and 2. While the coaches-healthy scratches scrimmage is a great scene, not all of the best parts are given away in the preview clips. There’s a Matt Kassian vs. the rest of the team discussion about whether he could fight Manny Pacquiao that could well be a fan favorite.

Wild Signs Powe, Extends Qualifying Offers To Seven Players

Evening, State of Hockey legion. All of us here in Wild land are recovering from the very busy weekend that was the 2011 NHL Entry Draft at Xcel Energy Center. The Wild has been in preparations for nearly two years and I think it’s safe to say the big event was a huge success. The organization was thrilled with this weekend’s events, especially all of the fans who came to St. Paul to showcase their love of hockey, including the more than 17,000 that attended the Draft Friday and Saturday.

There was certainly plenty of excitement during the two days of the Entry Draft, much of that coming from the hometown team. Click here for the Wild’s Draft Central page, which has stories and video from Wild management and some of the top selections in the Draft. Additionally, Wild radio’s Kevin Falness today spoke to Charlie Coyle, who was a big part of Minnesota’s first-round trade Friday night. Click here to listen to the interview and hear Coyle’s wicked Boston accent.

The 2011 NHL Entry Draft might now be over, but that doesn’t mean the Wild Hockey Operations department is taking a rest. In fact, the Wild made another trade today, acquiring 26-year-old forward Darroll Powe from the Philadelphia Flyers in exchange for a third-round pick in the 2013 NHL Entry Draft. Powe is considered a physical player who totaled 17 points (7-10=17) while leading the Flyers with 196 hits this past season. Click here to read the wild.com write up on the trade and here to listen to Powe’s reaction.

The guys in Hockey Ops weren’t done yet, and also used the day to extend qualifying offers to seven players: Justin Falk, Colton Gillies, Jarod Palmer, Jeff Penner, Darroll Powe, James Sheppard and Casey Wellman. The Wild did not tender a qualifying offer to Patrick O’Sullivan.

There isn’t much rest for the weary as the Wild decide whether to sign restricted free agents this week and then jump into the free agency pool starting Friday. Plenty of action to come, hockey fans!

Wellman Reassigned; Noreau Honored

Good afternoon, Wild fans.

As Minnesota looks to make it 16 straight wins against the Oilers at Xcel Energy Center tonight, it will do so without Casey Wellman. The 23-year-old was reassigned to Houston this morning after it was determined Chuck Kobasew’s leg is good to go for tonight’s contest.

Wellman will return to the Aeros, who clinched a spot in the AHL playoffs last night with a San Antonio loss. In addition to a bid in postseason play, congratulations are in order for some other news out of Houston today: defenseman Maxim Noreau was selected as one of six players named to this season’s AHL First All-Star Team. The 23-year-old ranks second on the Aeros and third among all AHL blueliners with 53 points (10-43=53) in 75 games this year.

Speaking of Wild prospects, it was announced today that Merrimack’s Stephane DaCosta has signed with the Ottawa Senators. Wild GM Chuck Fletcher had courted DaCosta after the end of his collegiate season and it was reported the Wild was one of the finalists as the college free agent made his decision of which NHL team to sign with. If there’s any positive from the news, it’s that the Wild will have more money left in the salary cap budget as it works on other signings for next year’s roster.

As far as the current Wild roster, they’re focused on turning the good vibes from Tuesday’s win into a solid performance in front of the home crowd. Eric Nystrom was quick to bring up the subject of the Wild fanbase in his comments after this morning’s skate. See his interview here.

If the Wild was able to select a team to play to get a second straight W, it probably would go with tonight’s opponent. Minnesota has won 15 straight games against the Oilers in St. Paul. Niklas Backstrom, who start in net, is 13-0-0 with a 1.15 GAA and a .955 SV% in his career against Edmonton at Xcel Energy Center. As Cal Clutterbuck said after morning skate, “We don’t want to be the group that lets [the win streak] go tonight.”

Watch Cal’s interview after morning skate here, and see what Todd Richards told the media this morning here.

Finally, don’t forget about the Fan Celebration festivities and “Our Favorite Things” auction at tonight’s game. I discussed the details in yesterday’s Lighthouse, so if you want more information click here and here.

Have a good afternoon. I’ll catch you in live, in-game commentary on wild.com tonight.

Madden Cruising To Minnesota

Did you see that catchy headline? And I’m just getting started! Get ready for a full season of references to “turduckens,” “Madden Cruisers” and “bushy, orange eyebrows.” I promise, you’ll love it and won’t ever get sick of it.

As reported on Wild.com, three-time Stanley Cup winner John Madden has come to terms on a one-year deal with the Wild. Madden has been one of the best defensive forwards in the game over his 10-year career, and he adds even more depth to the growing list of Wild centers.

It’s assumed that Madden now centers the Wild’s “third” line, which is likely made up of Chuck Kobasew, Cal Clutterbuck and/or Eric Nystrom. Kyle Brodziak now moves down to the fourth line slot, most likely. What will be interesting is to see what this means for James Sheppard, Casey Wellman and Pierre-Marc Bouchard. Assuming he’s healthy, Bouchard likely shifts to wing. The tougher choices will be made when it comes to Wellman and Sheppard. Playing down in Houston certainly wouldn’t do anything to stunt Wellman’s growth, but he showed last year that he’s not out of place in the NHL. As for Sheppard, he’ll need to turn in a big performance at training camp if he wants to play center. Perhaps the Wild moves him or Wellman to the wing as well?

Madden is currently in Hawaii on a scuba boat, so he was not available for immediate comment. It’s expected that he, along with newcomers like Nystrom, Matt Cullen and Brad Staubitz, as well as Mikko Koivu, are going to make a media appearance together in Minnesota prior to training camp.

Cullen Signs, Another Coming

The Wild has signed Matt Cullen to a three-year deal. There is another deal close to completion, and that will be posted on Wild.com shortly.