If yesterday wasn't the best day for Wild fans, it was the second or third best day. Getting the team in the first place has to be up there, and getting to the West finals back in 2003 is also in the top three.
But stealing two All-stars away from the Detroit Red Wings and the rest of the NHL? Wow ... the Wild are now, I think I top five team in the Western Conference. Maybe better.
I talked to Aeros GM Jim Mill today and congratulated he and the rest of the organization on the huge, huge win. He, understandably, was still quite giddy from the news. It has to feel really good to see a lot of hard work pay off like that.
I asked Jim about other free agents he may be going after for the Aeros. After all, they are going to need at least one body to replace what the team lost with the departure of Jon DiSalvatore and Jeff Taffe.
Taffe just didn't have a great year here, but I think that was just a fluke. I think he will have a good year in Hershey.
As for DiSalvatore, that really hurts. He had a chance to become the Aeros AHL everything. He was already the team's all-time leading scorer from the AHL era.
But to be fair, the Aeros/Wild just did not have the means to make him a reasonable offer. They are going to have a ton of forwards as it is (we'll get to that more in the coming weeks) and DiSalvatore earned a good raise for his play under Constantine, Yeo and Torchetti.
Sal goes to a perennial contender and gets the money he so well deserves. There is no chance the Aeros will play Hershey next year, so why not wish them the best of luck? The way Wilkes-Barre and Hershey are loading up on the AHL vets, it's silly not to predict them as top four teams again.
Mill said he is talking to some players and could have some news soon. They need to find a good Ortmeyer-like vet to help guys like Zucker, Bulmer and Phillips, who will all get good AHL time next year, I think.
We talked about the Mike Brodeur signing too. I think that is a good sign for the organization's fifth goalie. Mike will likely start the year in Orlando if Kuemper reports to camp fully healthy. Hackett will get the bulk of the starts, if he is not traded before then. No, I am not hinting that anything is imminent, but the Wild do have room to make such a deal if they so desire.
Jim and I also talked about the new division alignment. He was thrilled about trading Charlotte for Abbotsford. I mean, those trips are brutal, especially if you have to go there twice in the middle of an 11-game road trip (and you're already slumping) ...
I don't think you'll see anything too drastic when the schedule comes out in late August. Same format as last year and you'll play Charlotte 6-8 times and Abbotsford just 2-4 times.
In closing, don't be worried or surprised when you don't see the Aeros all over the transaction sheet in the coming days. The Wild have to get their young guns ready for the NHL, so they will get put into top situations down in the AHL.
If they prospects really are as good as advertised, then the Aeros are going to be really fun to watch. If they are good and move up, the Wild could be a contender for the next 6-8 years. n
Remember all the prime ice time all the young guys got last year because of injuries in Minnesota? Well, we are going to see first hand if that helped the team for 2012-13.
We'll let you know the second we find out who the Wild signs for the Aeros in the coming days. Expect to see a few familiar faced get re-upped and one or two new faces altogether.
Wilderness Walk: Almost Hockey Season
37 minutes ago