It has been over two months since Matt Cooke was bought out by the Minnesota Wild and the 36-year-old is still waiting for a contract.
Star Tribune reporter Michael Russo recently caught up with the veteran forward, who is hoping to play this season.
“I’ve been blessed to play this game for 17 years and make a living out of it and provide opportunity for my family,” Cooke said. “I have fire in my belly, I still feel I can play, I worked hard to make sure if I get the opportunity that I can contribute to whatever team gives me a chance.
“If it doesn’t come into fruition, I’m not going to get upset. It’ll be an opportunity to spend time with my family 24/7 for the first time in awhile.”
Sports hernia surgery limited Cooke to just 29 games with the Wild last season where he had four goals and six assists.
“I was hurt last year. There was some mismanagement on my (hip) injury, and part of that is my fault. It led to me getting hurt twice in one season. I’m 36 years old, I only played 30 games last year and then me getting bought out, that’s a tough scenario (to find a job).
“Patience is a virtue and right now all I’m doing is making sure I stay ready, that I get ready. We’re still three weeks away (from camp).”
Related: Report: Ballard, Leopold leaning towards retirement
Not only do the Minnesota Wild still have to get Devan Dubnyk signed, they also have a trio of restricted free agents — Mikael Granland, Erik Haula and Christian Folin — in need of new deals.
Granlund, the former ninth overall draft pick, finished with 39 points in 2014-15, the fifth most on the team. The 23-year-old’s agent provided an update on contract talks to the StarTribune.
“We’ve been talking on and off since training camp basically,” said Todd Diamond. “I wouldn’t say we’re way off. It’s like a marathon. The last half mile is the most difficult. I would surmise that’s where we are.”
While Granlund, 23, is obviously a big part of the Wild’s future, Dubnyk, an unrestricted free agent, will be GM Chuck Fletcher’s priority until July 1.
According to the StarTribune, Fletcher will meet with Dubnyk in Las Vegas at next week’s NHL Awards and, soon after that, he’ll meet with Dubnyk’s agent, Mike Liut, at the draft in Florida.
Yesterday, the Wild confirmed their intentions to buy out winger Matt Cooke in order to gain some additional room under the cap.
The Minnesota Wild have confirmed their intentions to buy out the remaining season of Matt Cooke’s contract.
“In order to give our team more salary cap flexibility for the upcoming season we needed to make this difficult decision,” said GM Chuck Fletcher in a release. “We thank Matt for his time with the Wild and wish him the best going forward.”
Once Cooke clears waivers, the 36-year-old winger will become an unrestricted free agent, though he cannot re-sign with the Wild. Per CapFriendly, the buyout will result in a cap hit of $500,000 for next season and $1 million in 2016-17.
The Wild need the “salary cap flexibility.” Devan Dubnyk is a pending unrestricted free agent, while forwards Mikael Granlund and Erik Haula are pending RFAs.
According to Michael Russo of the StarTribune, there “has been little headway toward a new deal” for Dubnyk, who will officially become unrestricted on July 1.
It sounds like Matt Cooke’s time with the Minnesota Wild is over.
According to TSN’s Ryan Rishaug, Cooke has been placed on waivers, the move likely a precursor to a buyout.
Cooke has one year remaining on his contract, with a salary of $3 million and cap hit of $2.5 million. According to CapFriendly, the buyout will result in a cap hit of $500,000 next season and $1 million in 2016-17.
The Wild could use the cap relief. Goalie Devan Dubnyk is a pending unrestricted free agent, while forwards Mikael Granlund and Erik Haula are pending RFAs.
Cooke appeared in just 29 games for the Wild in 2014-15 (he had a sports hernia), scoring four times with six assists.
Related: Wild reporter pegs Dubnyk deal at ‘well north of $3 million per’
In the 2014 postseason, Minnesota Wild forward Erik Haula made a name for himself with strong play against the Chicago Blackhawks. He’ll get a chance to do so again starting with Game 2 on Sunday.
The Pioneer Press’ Chad Graff reports that Haula will make his 2015 Stanley Cup playoffs debut with Justin Fontaine injured. It appears as though Haula may line up with Matt Cooke and Kyle Brodziak.
Again, the Blackhawks will be all-too-familiar with the 24-year-old’s work.
The Finn scored three goals and two assist for five points in Minnesota’s competitive six-game series with the Blackhawks. One of those tallies was a game-winner:
He hasn’t made much of an impact at the NHL level outside of that great work against Chicago, which probably explains why he wasn’t able to crack the Wild lineup before Game 2 (it doesn’t help his cause that Minnesota’s become increasingly deep at the forward position, mind you).
To state the obvious, the Wild would be overjoyed if Haula can make history repeat itself … although a series win would be a welcome twist.