Top notch pick-up for the Aeros and great depth for the Wild. He's a Colorado College alum, as are Nate Prosser and Chad Rau, so that club grows a little bigger.
Meanwhile, according to Mr. Russo, that was #49 of the 50 professional contracts the Wild are allowed have on the books.
Teams leave a contract or two open in case something crazy happens later in the season and they need to sign someone (like when Fredheim was signed late last season due to a defenseman crunch). Which tells me that it's very likely the Wild/Aeros are finished with depth signings that will significantly impact the Aeros.
And really, the roster is quite full, where usually there are 2-3 spots to give AHL/ECHL bubble guys a shot. You can see below that there's not really even room for minor league contracts on this team unless they decide to send some of the rookies down to play more minutes in Orlando and plug in some more experienced AHLers. I would lump this in the "Good Problems to Have" bucket.
C Jake Dowell (VET)
C Charlie Coyle
C Zack Phillips
C Chad Rau
C Joel Broda
C David McIntyre (tendered qualifying offer, still needs to be signed)
C Jarod Palmer (tendered qualifying offer, still needs to be signed)
RW Brett Bulmer
RW Justin Fontaine
RW Nick Palmieri (tendered qualifying offer, still needs to be signed)
RW Carson McMillan (tendered qualifying offer, still needs to be signed)
LW Johan Larsson
LW Jason Zucker
LW Stephane Veilleux (VET)
LW Kris Foucault
D Brian Connelly
D Chay Genoway
D Tyler Cuma
D Steven Kampfer
D Drew Bagnall (VET)
D Kyle Medvec
D Josh Caron
D Colton Jobke
D Jonas Brodin (maybe)
D Sean Lorenz (AHL deal)
One thing, right off the bat is that it looks like there won't be any issue with the veteran rule. I didn't do the math on everybody, but Bagnall, Dowell, and Veilleux are the only ones I see that would be considered "veterans" for the purposes of this rule.
Obviously, those qualifying offers have to get sorted out, but I don't see why any of them should be a big deal. Also, while the Wild roster is pretty much full up with 1-way contracts (Scandella and Spurgeon the exceptions, and they've likely secured their spots), there will of course be injuries and whatnot that will send some of the Houston guys up.
Here's a quote from Russo's "Wild Depth Chart" post a few days ago that indicates the teams intentions:
"As I wrote in today's analysis, yesterday's moves to sign Zach Parise and Ryan Suter, as well as signing Zenon Konopka and Torrey Mitchell on July 1, almost assures that the Wild will be patient with its prospects and have them grow together in Houston. That is the way the good teams do it. Be patient, don't force-feed kids into the NHL, promote when they're ready."One thing is for sure, this is going to be a wicked young team, so there will be a lot of figuring out the pro game, what they can/can't get away with here that they could in junior or college. As we've seen, that can take a good chunk of the season (or seasons) for some guys. And as full as this roster is, some may get to do some of that in Orlando.
The coaches and the older guys will have their hands full doing a lot of teaching, I suspect, and fans will need to be patient through the growing pains. But this team has the potential to be very fast, with a good balance of skill and toughness.
This time last year, a few of these new kids might have expected to get a real chance at skipping Houston altogether, but it really is a luxury to be able to play important minutes in relative anonymity. In prior years, Wild prospects have not always had that good fortune (even though it probably feels lousy at the time).
And Coach Torchetti should be happy as he finally has that all-important internal competition for ice time that he was so desperate for last season and never really got due to all the injuries and call-ups.
As much as I was ho-hum about last season, I'm super excited to see what unfolds this season. If the front office can keep the attendance momentum going, it could turn out to be a really fun year.
So... can we start now? Is it October yet? *sticks hand out door* No, definitely NOT October yet. *sigh*
Up next on the T3I agenda is putting together a little info on each of the new guys so you (and we) have a better sense of what they're all about.