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  • Wild Prospect Rieger Lorenz Gets To Frozen Four Alone

    Image courtesy of © Reid Glenn / USA TODAY NETWORK
    Thomas Williams

    Outside of the Wild's season going down the toilet, there is other Minnesota hockey misery this year. The State of Hockey will not be represented at the Frozen Four this season, as Michigan and Boston College face off on one side of the bracket in the semifinals, and Boston University and Denver complete the other semifinal matchup.

    Our final hope was our Gophers in the national quarterfinals facing a very good Boston University team featuring the 2024 first-overall selection, Macklin Celebrini. And, well, they lost 6-3 and Celebrini earned three assists. So that was that.

    The only small positive and reason to watch the Frozen Four is Wild prospect, winger Rieger Lorenz playing on Denver and being the sole Minnesota Wild prospect to remain in the tournament.

    Through two games, Lorenz has not earned a point for a fairly low-scoring Denver team, but now him and his teammates have to face the BU team that handedly defeated the Gophers. Good luck, Mr. Lorenz.

    That's Wild

    • The Wild need to do something fun next season. How about some giveaways during games? We have some ideas. [Hockey Wilderness]
    • Jon Merrill used to be blamed for losses and turnovers, but oh so quietly, he has had a resurgence lately on the Wild blue line. [Hockey Wilderness]
    • Ryan Hartman is going to have a hearing about his unsportsmanlike conduct against the Vegas Golden Knights. [Daily Faceoff]

    Off the trail...

    • Surprise, surprise. Connor McDavid is putting himself in the scoring race and putting the Edmonton Oilers on his back while doing it. [NHL dot com]
    • The Tampa Bay Lightning are almost ready for their real season to begin. [Defector]
    • Canucks fans react to their team finally making the playoffs. [CBC]

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    Macklin Celebrini - 32 goals and 32 assists, for 64 points in 37 games so far.

    For any college player, that's an insanely good season, but this kid is a 17-year old freshman. Prior year, as the only 16-year old that was getting regular ice time on his team(with 17, 18, and 19 year old teammates), he led his USHL team in both goals and points, setting a new record for anyone under the age of 17 in USHL scoring.

    6 feet and 190 pounds, future NHL star center. Might not get the hype Bedard got, but perhaps he'll be just as good.

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    I read this earlier this morning:


    It doesn’t sound like Minnesota Wild goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury has any intention of retiring after the season. Fleury this week in an interview.

    “The door is more open today for a return than it was in September or October.”

    Fleury added

    “I also thought it was going to be my last season,” he said. “When we spoke this past summer, I was telling myself that I was preparing for one last year. But the mood has changed. camp wasn’t easy, my hips were hurting, we were losing games at the start of the season. I wasn’t playing the way I wanted. I ended up feeling better and I started playing better. I rediscovered the joy of playing hockey. For the first few months, I wasn’t finding it very fun. I had hip problems and the team was struggling.”

    It would be a one year contract and he’ll only play for the Wild.

    “Yeah, it’s probably Minnesota or retirement. I wouldn’t want to move and take my three kids out of their environment. They’ve moved enough already.”

    For argument's sake, let's just say that Fleury signs a deal for about $1m. Why? Because that is about what The Wall would make. Now, Fleury also has some playoff milestones to make, so, getting back to the playoffs would be paramount for him right now. Taking a low salary helps insure that the Wild can get the help they need to return to the playoffs. 

    Would we rather have The Wall or Fleury backing up Goose? Really, that is the question. Goose is on the last year of his ELC, so if you delay a year, you probably get him for a couple more cheap years. Does he have anything else to prove in the A? He played 42 games, so far, and has a .912 sv%. Compare that to McIntyre who has a .879 sv% in 21 games. I believe this shows that The Wall has been better than his .912 suggests, and that the Baby Wild have had a leaky defense at best. 

    Do we want The Wall to get the NHL experience he needs to be better in '25? Or, do we give him that experience when there's an injury with the big club? 1 thing is certain, we have a real problem with depth in the pipeline. Adding Fleury for 1 more year would help that pipeline a bit. But, if The Wall is in Iowa, how can Fleury help him outside of training camp?

    Now, in Fleury's interview, he mentioned hip issues. Flexibility is essential for any goalie, but probably even more essential for Fleury. Hip flexibility deteriorates with age, and he'll be 40. I've seen signs this season that Fleury's reflexes have started to go. What happens if he falls off a cliff? Well, you could always bring The Wall up, and stick Fleury on IR with hip issues. 

    So, the puck is in Guerin's corner. Does Guerin see through the rosy goggles with Fleury, or can he see that it is time? He blew it with Goligoski on the 2 year deal as Goligoski actually did fall off the cliff last season, it was not a mirage or bad luck and he should have pulled Goligoski into his office in training camp and told him it was time. $2m saved there could have been the difference of acquiring a player that would have helped us make the playoffs this year. Doing it earlier could have been the difference between Nyquist and Johansson. 

    Yet, there is risk on both ends. Is The Wall ready yet? I'd say he's as ready as Kahkonen was. You'd need a better 3rd goalie. Could the Wild run with 3 goalies in the N? I'd think that would be hard, but they may have the cap space. The Wall has proven himself in the A, but not in the N. He is an unknown in the N. Would he need some soft teams to get going? Could he catch lightning in a bottle like Goose did in his rookie campaign?

    Typically, a GM or a coach will err on the side of the vet with experience. Of course, he could choose C which is another goalie that is younger to backup Goose and leave The Wall in the A one more year, but I see this as unlikely. If it were me, I think I'd want Fleury around the team, but more in a coaching role. I think I'd want to start out the season with The Wall backing up Goose. If this didn't work out, one could always sign Fleury for half a season, kind of like Selanne did, and that would take out some wear and tear on Fleury. His next milestone is playoffs, so he has nothing to prove in the regular season.

    Could this plan make a difference on his body? I'd say yes. If he were an assistant goalie coach, he could be on the ice as the 3rd goalie in practice still stretching out and getting shots. Would Fleury want to do that? Well, he wouldn't have to move his family, and he'd have an impact with the team. He'd pretty much be stationed locally, so he wouldn't have to travel so much. He'd be involved but not quite as heavily. If he did this, it would be a way for his legacy tree to grow even larger. 

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    In elimination play, Metallurg moves on with a 3-0 game 6 win. Yurov had no points, but had 2 goals in their game 5 win.

    In the OHL, Oshawa tied up Barrie, Kumpulainen had no points again. He did, however, go 19/27 in the faceoff dot, which was 10 more faceoffs than anyone else on the team. 

    Saginaw took a 2-0 lead over Owen Sound. Petrovsky and Haight were held off the scoresheet, Haight looks like he's playing wing right now.

    In the WHL, Prince George takes a 2-0 lead as Heidt puts up 3 assists. Moose Jaw also takes a 2-0 lead, no points for Kalem Parker.

    I sure hope the Wild do sign Petrovsky after his exit. PTO in Iowa and start his ELC next season.

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    48 minutes ago, mnfaninnc said:

    For argument's sake, let's just say that Fleury signs a deal for about $1m.

    My guess would be $1.5M for Fleury, but I wouldn't be surprised to see him back, primarily because of the lack of depth behind Wallstedt should Gustavsson suffer some injury, and Fleury is still a decent NHL goalie even if he is below average now. Below average is still better than below replacement level, which is what you have with McIntyre--far below replacement level.

    Also of note, I see with the last game that Gustavsson pulled slightly ahead of Fleury in save percentage for the season, climbing just a hair over .900. He and Fleury are now about dead even on goals saved above average. They are both below average in the statistic this year, but not terribly far below now.

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    24 minutes ago, Imyourhuckleberry said:

    Below average is still better than below replacement level, which is what you have with McIntyre--far below replacement level.

    It's my belief they move on from McIntyre at the end of the season. .879 in the A is not good. I also believe Hunter Jones is on the chopping block. Guerin has admitted that he is not a goalie guy, but he needs, NEEDS! some youth in the organization with upside potential. I'd be looking for overage goaltenders in Europe (like we found Backy) or college. Since goalies take the longest to historically develop, getting them later on is not a bad plan. Perhaps even Lindberg would come back calling with his tail between his legs? 

    One main issue is that both Guerin and Brackett have ignored the position in the last couple of drafts figuring they got their guy in The Wall. You've absolutely got to have organizational depth at the position and we do not. Stashing a goalie prospect in college and in Europe is a good plan, plus having a couple in the A and E. I think we should draft one in the 5th round, and grab an undrafted FA somewhere.

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    16 minutes ago, mnfaninnc said:

    In the WHL, Prince George takes a 2-0 lead as Heidt puts up 3 assists. Moose Jaw also takes a 2-0 lead, no points for Kalem Parker.

    Prince George teammate Terik Parascak with 4 goals in 2 playoff games for Riley Heidt's squad. Seems like he may have solidified a 1st round draft grade for 2024. 2023 LA Kings draft pick, Koehn Ziemmer missed over 40 games with an ankle injury/surgery, but has made it back for the playoffs.

    Prince George fans have a lot of talent to root for this year. Their squad finished 1st in their division and 2nd overall in standings points, with a 2nd place finish in goals for as well. Also led the WHL in goal differential. Exciting hockey, to say the least.

    • Saskatoon Blades had the fewest goals allowed, #1 standings points.
    • Prince George was 2nd in both categories.
    • Portland Winterhawks had most goals scored, #3 in standings.

    Moose Jaw was 5th in standings points. Everett Silvertips were 4th. Champion will likely come from those 5 teams, but I guess you cannot count out the 4th division winner in the Swift Current Broncos, who have a couple of 2022 1st round picks--Connor Geekie and Owen Pickering.


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    2 goalies playing at a very similar level being paid 7.25M AAV between the two on a team that is in desperate need of cap room to add valuable players.  IMO: this is perhaps the biggest screw up by GMBG so far.  Whatever he does this year the cap on this should be $5M AAV.  I would prefer to keep Fleury and have the Wall back him up or if you don't view the Wall as being ready find a cheap backup.  If they both stay Fleury comes in at 1.5M AAV max. ... We need that cap space.

    Save $2M on goalie and $2M on Goligoski.  We should have $4m in cap space to bring in a quality D man for a little extra depth.

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    33 minutes ago, mnfaninnc said:

    I think we should draft one in the 5th round, and grab an undrafted FA somewhere.

    Agreed. Lindberg has struggled to varying degrees since leaving UMass-Amherst. His save percentages haven't been great the last 2 seasons in the AHL or Finish league, but I'm guessing he is better than McIntyre. He's at least the #1 goalie on his team in Finland SM-liiga.

    Saskatoon Blades might have a decent goalie prospect, Evan Gardner(age 17), helping them lead the league in fewest goals allowed. His .927 save percentage is far better than the .904 posted by their 19 year old, who got a dozen more starts.

    Gardner isn't rated as a top 10 goalie in the upcoming draft, but if you can get him near the end of the draft, particularly 6th or 7th round, he's perhaps more likely to help the Wild than a forward or defenseman at that point(no offense to Captain Spurgeon--drafted by the Islanders in the 6th).

    2009 Wild draft had Darcy Kuemper in the 6th, followed by Erik Haula in the 7th. Not consistently great, but both played in the Stanley Cup finals. They haven't had much draft success in those rounds since then. 5th round had some solid hits though--Nick Seeler(2011), Carson Soucy(2013), Kirill Kaprizov(2015).

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    3 hours ago, MNCountryLife said:

    Save $2M on goalie and $2M on Goligoski.  We should have $4m in cap space to bring in a quality D man for a little extra depth.

    I'd suggest saving it and letting it accrue to the TDL. That way you could get the same defender for the playoffs plus maybe another guy in that $4m range.

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    15 hours ago, mnfaninnc said:

    I'd suggest saving it and letting it accrue to the TDL.

    I'm not against that.  But I'm not sure we are in the race if we wait until the TDL.  An injury to Spurge, Brodin or Faber and we will be out of it again.  If you think we can be in playoff hunt and hold off... then I'm all for it.

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    Shoulda traded Gus last off season. I said it multiple times. He went full Euro which we knew was very possible cause he shows up to camp fat, and out of shape. Go figure. 

    I have said this here since my first username, better one year too early than one year too late. Wallstedt shoulda been MAF's backup and Gus could been a backup elsewhere. Guerin could have got a nice return. Wallstedt was already your long-term plan and you got MAF. Should have played safe by getting a new 3rd goalie, not trying to keep Gus too.

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    56 minutes ago, Protec said:

    Shoulda traded Gus last off season. I said it multiple times. He went full Euro which we knew was very possible cause he shows up to camp fat, and out of shape. Go figure. 

    I have said this here since my first username, better one year too early than one year too late.

    It is absolutely true to trade a guy a year early than a year late. In this case, I'd think that Goose will have a bounce back season next year. As a 2nd round pick, he was also the top pick of all the Euro goalies in his draft year, which suggests he has some pretty good talent. Trained like The Wall, we've got a tandem that should be good for years.

    I warned that giving him too much $ would put pressure on him if things went south, especially when you look at the buyouts. I suggested a low bridge deal at about $1.5-2m for a couple of years. He had not taken the net away from Fleury last year, though we did ride him hot. Until he took his job clearly, he had no business making what he is now. Making that was a raise of about 100% and still gave him room to improve. 

    Well, this year he started game 1 out outstanding and then faltered. He found his game on a trip back to Sweden, I guess that little bag he left in his closet was important! For awhile he was reliable, but then it went south again. 

    Goalies games are importantly linked to confidence, and if a goalie even has the suggestion that he's not holding up his salary slot, that can affect his overall game. Of course, an agent is supposed to try and look out for the player, and get everything he can. However, in this case, I think he was looking short term and not long term for the player. Goose has got to work hard this offseason to shore up his shortcomings. 

    He plays quiet in the net, but like last season, he does sometimes have trouble picking up the puck in traffic. Even last game, he was in position, the puck was whistled and hit the crossbar, and even after that, he never moved and had no idea where it was at. I don't know how you fix this, but it needs to be addressed. Goose has a tendency to give up some softies where he just never tracked the puck. This, alone, is supposed to be the difference between him and The Wall. 

    The main reason why I wouldn't have traded him after last seasons breakout year is that I believe he can still put up some good numbers. He needs a solid defense in front of him to do that, and we haven't had that this season. Due to his young age and the depth of the position organizationally, we pretty much had to keep him. And, we need more youth at the position. 

    Goose has shown that he can still be that same goalie from last year. Unfortunately, he has not been consistent that way. I'm surprised that Fleury hasn't helped him more there this season, but when you look at Fleury's game, it has the same issue. I'd think his experience would help. 

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    16 hours ago, NC Beach Bum said:

    is a 3 goalie rotation allowed?

    yes you can, it just doesn't work that well. We ran a 3 goalie system late in Backy's career. Montreal ran one this year. It's rare, but if you have 3 goalies and can't send one down unless they pass through waivers, you're kind of stuck. 

    Simply put, they take up an extra roster spot, so you'd have 1 less skater on the 23 man roster. That part wouldn't affect us so much since we typically carry just 22. The Wall has 1 season left on his ELC where we don't have to pass him through waivers, so if you wanted Fleury to influence him, this would be the year to do it, and if you ran into trouble with injuries, The Wall could be sent down. 

    One of the things that frustrates me with NHL coaches is that they typically do not know how to manage a full roster. They just stick out the 20 best players, but cannot manage days off, maintenance rest like a baseball manager can. I get it with football, there's only 16 games. But, with hockey you've got 82. That's a lot of hockey, and a way to give guys a night off and play the full roster. This also helps guys 21, 22, 23 feel fully apart of the team, not just the reserves. Older players, especially, could use some help in the 3/4 games and b2b scenarios. 

    I think there's a way to rotate 3 goalies well, it's just that coaches haven't found that yet. This also makes it a little difficult to play the hot hand when you've got 2 other goalies. 

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