THE WILD WIRE - SUMMER BLOGJul 17, 2018
For the Wild organization, there’s no question it’s been a busy and interesting offseason.
Let’s just quickly recap what’s already occurred (not in chronological order)
- Hiring of Paul Fenton as the new GM in Minnesota
- Hiring of Tom Kurvers as assistant GM, who will focus largely on Iowa Wild
- Announcement that Head Coach Derek Lalonde is leaving Iowa Wild to join the Tampa Bay Lightning’s coaching staff
- NHL Entry Draft – Minnesota made eight (8) selections
- NHL Free Agency – Wild inked seven (7) players to contract
- Development Camp (an annual tradition) took place from July 9-15, featuring 40 prospects, many of whom are Wild draft picks
Now that we’ve covered that, let’s take an Iowa Wild-themed focus on some of the notes above, beginning with the hiring of Kurvers, a Minneapolis native.
I had a chance to catch up with the former NHL defenseman; you can hear that interview here:
Kurvers has spent some time in Des Moines in recent seasons, as his duties with the Tampa Bay Lightning often called for him to scout games at Wells Fargo Arena. Couple that with the fact his daughter recently graduated from Iowa State University and Kurvers is fairly familiar with Central Iowa and the drive up and down I-35.
From the interview linked above, you can tell he shares a similar belief which Fenton echoed during his press conference in Saint Paul – it’s best to let your draft picks and prospects develop in the AHL, and sometimes that requires a lot of patience.
Now, onto the coaching change.
First off, congrats to Lalonde on reaching the NHL. I know the organization wishes him the best of luck in Tampa Bay.
“Newsy” was great to work with in his two seasons here. His passion and energy helped formulate a winning culture in Iowa and his personality enabled him to connect with the fans and local community.
His accessibility and insight from a media perspective was awesome, and his track record as a head coach (at several levels of hockey) speaks for itself.
I’m personally disappointed to see him go, but I understand where he’s coming from. NHL opportunities don’t always present themselves in this industry. I know from talking to him the last week or so that this was a difficult decision for him to make and a large part of that was the fact he really liked living in Des Moines and being part of the Wild organization.
The process for a new head coach in Iowa is underway. It should be noted that the rest of last season’s coaching staff is under contract - Associate Coach David Cunniff, Assistant Coach Brett McLean and Video Coach Keith Paulsen.
Stay tuned to our social media platforms and website for more details as the summer moves along.
I’m sure a lot of fans are wondering about the team’s roster and how it’s shaping up. Rather than put together a “depth chart” and possibly upset some folks with where guys are listed (or run the risk of rubbing some players the wrong way), I decided to split the contracted players (by position) into two categories:
Forwards that played at least one (1) game in Iowa last season – in no particular order:
- Luke Kunin (coming off an ACL injury in March)
- Joel Eriksson Ek (most likely destined for the NHL)
- Cal O’Reilly (team’s leading scorer)
- Landon Ferraro (coming off an injury-filled season, but still just 26 years old)
- Sam Anas (breakout season in 2017-18)
- Justin Kloos (broke several Iowa rookie records last season)
- Kyle Rau (one of four 50-point players for Iowa in 2017-18)
- Gerry Mayhew (re-signed this summer to a two-year AHL contract)
- Colton Beck (versatile forward is also on an AHL deal)
- Mason Shaw (played just one game – still has junior eligibility left)
- Gerry Fitzgerald (late-season pro debut helped earn him an AHL contract for this season)
- Ivan Lodnia (just 18 years old – will return to juniors)
- Dmitry Sokolov (most likely competing for AHL lineup spot)
- Dante Salituro (split time between ECHL and AHL last season)
- Pavel Jenys (big, Czech forward will battle for a spot in Iowa)
- Chase Lang (dealt with several injuries in his brief pro career – if he stays healthy he should contribute in Iowa)
Defensemen who played at least one (1) game in Iowa last season – in no particular order:
- Ryan Murphy (veteran defenseman was re-signed this summer)
- Gustav Bouramman (will factor into the Iowa blue line)
- Carson Soucy (rookie made his NHL debut late last season)
- Nick Seeler (re-signed to a one-way contract this summer, so most likely in Minnesota all season)
- Brennan Menell (played 72 games with Iowa last season after making the team out of training camp)
- Louie Belpedio (entering first full season as a pro – taste of AHL and NHL after finishing his collegiate season last March)
- Hunter Warner (late season surgery cost him the tail end of 2017-18)
Players signed to two-way contracts by the organization this summer – in no particular order
- Goaltender Andrew Hammond (figures to compete with Alex Stalock for an NHL spot – has a ton of experience)
- Defenseman Matt Bartkowski (age: 30 / 18 NHL games with Calgary last season)
- Winger Michael Liambas (as tough as they come – 125 PIM last season between NHL and AHL)
- Goaltender Kaapo Kahkoken (Finnish-born draft pick will make his North American debut in Iowa this fall)
- Defenseman Eric Martinsson (25-year-old Swede will also make his debut in the States)
- Forward Jordan Greenway (Boston University star and U.S. Olympian turned pro at the end of last season and debuted for Minnesota – at some point he may factor into the Iowa lineup)
Again, the above “list” is simply to give you an idea of the pool of players who may spend time in Iowa come October. All of these guys have a shot during training camp to determine exactly where they end up and how long they stay there.
Remember all of the players on two-way contracts earn a different salary while in Iowa (as opposed to their time in Minnesota).
Use CapFriendly if you want more info. https://www.capfriendly.com/teams/wild
It should also be noted that Kunin, Greenway, Eriksson Ek, Anas, Kloos, Seeler, Belpedio and Soucy are all “waiver exempt,” so if they get sent down from Minnesota at any point this season, they do not have to clear waivers. Same goes for Martinsson, should he get a chance in the NHL. There are a plethora of other young players that also fall into this category, but most of them would be considered longshots (right now) for a chance in the NHL this season.
There are always surprises in NHL training camps, so who knows how this will all shake out.
- Wild Joe Radio