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Quick Takes: Should Koivu’s number be retired? Vikings projected to take O-lineman in first round, Bailey about to be kicked to curb?

NHL: Minnesota Wild at Dallas Stars
Feb 7, 2020; Dallas, Texas, USA; Minnesota Wild center Mikko Koivu (9) in action during the game between the Wild and the Stars at the American Airlines Center. Mandatory Credit: Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

Thoughts on the Wild potentially retiring Mikko Koivu’s number, why the Vikings couldn’t be blamed for addressing offensive line in the first round and how long will this Vikings kicker last under Mike Zimmer?

  • Item: Mikko Koivu retires after 15 seasons with the Minnesota Wild and seven games with the Columbus Blue Jackets.
  • Reaction: The end of Koivu’s career is certain to spark conversation about whether the Wild should raise his No. 9 to the rafters at Xcel Energy Center. The guess here is that it will happen, but that doesn’t mean it should. Koivu belongs in the Wild Ring of Honor or Hall of Fame, neither of which currently exist, but retiring a number is the greatest honor an organization can give a former player and it’s one step beyond what the longtime Wild captain deserves. The Wild are in their 20th season and during much of that time the organization’s on-ice product has been mediocre. The Wild’s deepest playoff run remains an appearance in the conference finals in the franchise’s third season. Koivu is the Wild’s all-time leader in numerous categories, but the team never made it past the second round of the playoffs with him and at his best he was a very good (never great) player. There will be an argument made by some that Koivu deserves to be honored, in part, because he was the Wild’s first full-time captain. But that was only because Jacques Lemaire rotated the captaincy during his time as coach. We’re also talking about putting the No. 9 in the rafters. That is a digit that is reserved for hockey royalty and is Koivu really a member of hockey royalty? Wild executives will be tempted to retire Koivu’s number because of what he has meant to the fan base and because it would pay tribute to this period of Wild hockey. But is that type of tribute warranted? A night in his honor and a spot in the new Wild Hall of Fame (along with Lemaire, Marian Gaborik and a few others) would suffice.

  • Item: The Vikings will take offensive tackle/guard Alijah Vera-Tucker of Southern Cal with the 14th pick in the NFL draft, according to the latest mock from Todd McShay of ESPN.
  • Reaction: It might not be the sexy pick to go with an offensive lineman in the opening round, but considering the Vikings’ issues along the line (especially the interior portion) it would be difficult to get too bent out of shape, if general manager Rick Spielman went with a guy who could begin the season as Dakota Dozier’s replacement at left guard. The Vikings also might be faced with having to replace left tackle Riley Reiff, if the team attempts to cut his pay for a second consecutive season. McShay’s mock has quarterbacks going with the first four picks (Trevor Lawrence to Jacksonville; Zach Wilson to the Jets; Trey Lance to Carolina after a trade; and Justin Fields to Atlanta)  and wide receivers going six through eight (Ja’Marr Chase to Philadelphia, DeVonta Smith to Detroit and Jaylen Waddle to Miami after a trade). If the draft plays out like this, the Vikings should have plenty of choices when it comes to the offensive and defensive lines.
  • Item:  The Vikings agree to a deal with kicker Greg Joseph, who spent the season with the Super Bowl champion Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
  • Reaction: Joseph was on the Buccaneers’ practice squad for much of the season, but the Vikings thought enough of him to guarantee a portion of his base salary. That is bad news for Dan Bailey, who had an awful finish to the season and is due to have $1.8 million of his 2021 salary become guaranteed on March 19. Odds are good that Bailey won’t be on the Vikings’ roster at that point, making him the latest kicker to be jettisoned since Mike Zimmer took over as coach. That list includes young and old: Blair Walsh, Kai Forbath, Daniel Carlson and Bailey. Joseph, 26, made 17-of-20 field-goal attempts and 25-of-29 extra points in 14 games with Cleveland in 2018 and kicked in two games for Tennessee in 2019, making all nine of his extra-point attempts. One has to wonder if Joseph knows exactly what he’s gotten himself into by agreeing to kick for Zimmer. Walsh, Forbath, Carlson and Bailey can certainly fill him in — if Joseph dares to ask.