NHL free agency: Wild ink Connelly to two-year, two-way deal

The Wild brass continue to make smart moves including this very good depth signing. This was a smart move by former Tiger Brian Connelly, pictured in foreground, who reportedly did not seem a good fit for the Flames organization.

Tiger fans can expect Connelly to make his NHL debut and  spend a little time in St. Paul this season depending on the big club’s health.

He joins Nate Prosser and Chad Rau at the Minnesota training camp later this summer/fall.

Here is the updated list of former Tigers testing the waters of free agency as of 9a.m. MT this July 7.

They are (name, 2011-12 team):  Richard Bachman, (Dallas): Mark Cullen (Florida); Kris Fredheim (Wild); Trevor Frischmon, (Islanders); Richard Petiot (Tampa Bay);  Brett Sterling (Blues), and Colin Stuart (Sabres).

From NHL.com …

The Minnesota Wild bolstered its defensive depth late Friday night by inking defenseman Brian Connelly to a two-year, two-way deal. The move gives the Wild an added weapon from the blue line capable of contributing at the offensive end and displaying outstanding puck moving ability and skating.

The Bloomington native split time between the Abbotsford Heat and Rockford IceHogs last season of the American Hockey League. His 52 points (6-46=52) ranked second amongst defensemen in the AHL.

Connelly has played in the AHL All-Star Game the last two seasons. At last year’s AHL Skills Competition, he represented the Western Conference in the Fastest Skater Competition.

The 26-year-old has played professionally. For three seasons, all in the AHL. Before turning pro, the blueliner was a three-year standout at Colorado College. With the Tigers, he amassed 63 points (8-55=63) and was a teammate of Nate Prosser and Chad Rau.

A left-handed shot, Connelly is listed at 5-foot-11 and 185 pounds.

Weekend reading: Bjugstad, Prosser, Parise, Suter, faceshields, Penn State scandal, Union, UMass, NHL Draft, NCAAs

Minnesota standout Nick Bjugstad, pictured, likely will announce if he will return this season sometime this weekend. UPDATE: He said Sunday night he and his family will decide over the next two weeks.

Former Tiger Nate Prosser, an Elk River native, is excited, like much of Minnesota, about the Zach Parise and Ryan Suter signings.

The NCAA continues its slow saunter toward 3/4 face shields.

This Penn State fan blog talks about how the recent scandal may affect hockey.

Here is the top reported remaining candidates for the open UMass coaching job.

Lake Superior State lost an undrafted forward after he excelled in the Rangers development camp. A goal in all four scrimmages apparently caught the scouts’ attention.

The 2013 NHL Draft should be as loaded as the famed 2003 picks. Five are future collegians as the Grand Forks Herald reports.

If that is not planning far enough ahead for you here are the 2013 NCAA regionals:

Northeast, Manchester, N.H., on March 29-30;

East, Providence, R.I., on March 30-31;

Midwest, Toledo, Ohio, on March 30-31;

West, Grand Rapids, Mich., on March 29-30.

Thursday reading: Slavin, Parise, Suter, DU, Tech, UMass job, Trouba

Tigers 2013 signee Jaccob Slavin, pictured, says he plans to play three years at Colorado College before turning pro.

Suddenly, the Minnesota Wild matter after the signing of Zach Parise and Ryan Suter, both former WCHA standouts.

With Suter signed, Denver alumnus Matt Carle found a new home in Tampa Bay.

Another former Badger joined the Wild too. Former Michigan Tech captain Brett Olson is at the Wild development camp.

Holy Cross’ Paul Pearl is said to be the lead contender for the open UMass coaching job. Here are some of the other likely candidates.

Accidents look the lives of this former Sacred Heart captain and Denver’s Ted O’Leary recently. My condolences to their friends and families.

The Kitchener Rangers are upset about the $200,000 payment reportedly offered for Michigan signee Jacob Trouba. His family has since denied it. This is not the first time the CHL teams have been accused of offering big money and nothing has come of it.

NHL free agency: Wild land Parise, Suter

Reports from credible sources say both top free agents Zach Parise, a former North Dakota standout, and the top available forward, will be joined by the top available defenseman, former Badgers standout Ryan Suter of Nashville in St. Paul.

If so, this is a HUGE day for the Minnesota Wild franchise. You may want to buy your season tickets now, because they will sell quickly once this is confirmed. FYI, The Wild will need that ticket revenue to pay those two.

ESPN reported both deals are for 13 years and $98 million, which locks them up through the 2024-25 season and would carry a salary cap hit of $7.538 million per campaign.

Here is an updated version of the story from nhl.com. Here is some excellent detail from the Wild beat writer, who also suggests how both their significant others played a big role in coming to the Twin Cities.

Monday reading: LaLeggia, Schultz, APR scores, WMU, Mankato

This graphic shows the increased number of former collegians playing in the NHL.    Courtesy College Hockey, Inc.

About 60 future NHL Draft hopefuls were shown how going to college often leads to the NHL.

Let the Justin Schultz free agency derby begin. Pittsburgh looks ready to make a run at former UND star Zach Parise and defenseman Ryan Suter.

DU’s Joey LaLeggia proves it never hurts to have friends in high places. His friendship with Ryan Nugent-Hopkins led the Oilers to selecting the 5-foot-8 defenseman in the fifth round Saturday. This could be a real nice pick for Edmonton who may have found a good two-way deal player.

Here are the Division I hockey APRs with Brown, Boston University, Dartmouth, New Hampshire, Notre Dame, Princeton and St. Lawrence all receiving perfect scores. CC was tied for 16th with RPI with a 994, well above the 982 average which was second in NCAA behind only men’s gymnastics.

The scores, which are based on eligibility and retention of scholarship players, include data from the 2007-08, 2008-09, 2009-10 and 2010-11 academic years.

Here is a feature on a Western Michigan signee who the Red Wings hope develop into a physical player under Andy Murray’s tutelage. Michael McKee racked up 237 penalty minutes in 59 games last season.

Here is a look at MSU-Mankato coaches’ salaries.