The Hockey Dog Days Of Summer Are Here…

Marc Elliott

LAKE GENEVA… Friends, there isn’t a great deal going on in the world of the NHL right now. The Stanley Cup has been won, the Awards handed out, the Entry Draft is past and Free Agent signing day has come and gone. Most teams are preparing for potential arbitration cases or doing some sort of clean-up type signings to round out their rosters for the upcoming season. Lots of guys from team Execs down to stick boys are golfing or fishing. Your Minnesota Wild are clearly in that mode. GM Chuck Fletcher isn’t totally off to the lake yet though. They have announced that they have re-signed forward Jordan Schroeder to a one year two-way deal. The deal calls for Schroeder to receive a $600k NHL salary or a $275k contract while in the AHL with the Iowa Wild. The deal guarantees Schroeder will make at least $300k.
Negotiations got testy last week when the club balked at Schroeder’s request for a one way deal and the club then placed Schroeder on waivers. For the fourth time Schroeder cleared waivers with none of the other 29 teams showing an interest. Where am I at on this player? I thought he was misguided when he left the Minnesota Gophers early to sign a deal with the Vancouver Canucks who had drafted him in the 2009 NHL Entry Draft. Without going into detail I can tell you unequivocally that his amateur credentials are very impressive. From his youth hockey days up to the USA Hockey NDTP program as well as International Amateur competition this guy was a high level player.
He is an undersized player for the NHL though (5’8”/175lbs) and I thought another year of college hockey would have been in order for him. He signed with the Vancouver club and spent the next 5 seasons with them, mostly with their AHL affiliates. In 190 games in the ’A’ he notched 47 goals and 67 assists for 114 points. With the Canucks he appeared in 56 games obtaining 6 goals and 9 assists for 15 points. Vancouver walked away from him at the conclusion of the 2013-14 season. At that point the Wild took a chance on him and he is mostly trending the same as he did with the Canucks.
In 75 games with the Iowa Wild he has 24 goals and 38 assists for a respectable 62 points and in 51 games with the big club he has 5 goals and 7 assists for 12 points. While with the big club he has mostly received 3rd and 4th line minutes but has also played with the top 6 as an injury fill-in. He is a smart player and has exceptional speed. He has always appeared to me while on-ice as a guy who was good at creating to an extent but for whatever reason it hasn’t translated to points for him. I have finally had to conclude that he is a bottom 6 guy in the show and a top 6 guy in the ‘A’.  My feeling is that it is time for a younger up and comer to grab hold of whatever minutes Schroeder might have been in line for with the big club….
THE WILD CONTINUE TO bargain with RFA defenseman Matt Dumba’s agent Craig Oster and hope to meet this week in Calgary. Fletcher believes they are close on a deal…
THE TEAM STILL HAS ACCESS to a small amount of cap space and they still have players from last years roster looking for deals. Chris Porter, Ryan Carter and Justin Fontaine are still in a holding pattern and former Wild player and now two time Stanley Cup Champion Matt Cullen has also decided he would play another year for the right deal. Otherwise he may be inclined to call it a career. I think he still has some stuff left in the tank based on my observations of him in the SC tourney. I still think back to the Wild not re-signing him back in 2013 and wonder why. The team still needs at least one more veteran player for the roster and perhaps Cully could be that guy. I would like that….
THE WORLD CUP OF HOCKEY is not too far away and I have had some mixed feelings about it. You know, it’s not an Olympic year and just seems to be a kind of hockey get together for the best players in the world and for our entertainment and potential bragging rights. Some will make a fair amount of revenue from this tourney, but what the heck, I know I will be glued to the set. Actually I am getting to that point of the summer where I can’t wait. So lets go!
This story caught my attention though and could have some implications for the upcoming tournament. The International Ice Hockey Federation has announced that they are looking very closely at a recently released World Anti-Doping Agency report containing information that some Russian athletes at the 2014 Sochi Games tested positive but played due to some samples being exchanged so that the players who did test positive could compete anyway without a doping suspension. This story became known as the “Disappearing Positive Methodology”. Somehow, if a Russian athlete was probably going to fail a doping test, they were somehow able to swap out their samples for clean ones.
The Russian Women’s Ice Hockey team seems to be the main suspects but the IIHF wants the players within the report who are in question to be identified so that if there are any who might be playing in upcoming international competitions that they can be suspended per the Federations rules. With a mix of KHL and NHL players on the Russian Men’s roster there could be some discrepancies. I don’t know but I will be keeping an eye on this situation. I believe that the NHL has their processes locked down. But the ’K’? Who knows, it’s a different world and culture there. Stuff slips through, people look the other way.
At the end of the day I want to know that the NHL and hockey players the world over are clean in this regard and I believe that they are. I am more then satisfied that anything the NHL gets involved with will have the highest degree of integrity attached to it. Gary Bettman would not have it any other way. I’ll keep you posted on this story…. PEACE