Rachel Blount here, sitting in ever so briefly while Russo is winging his way to Detroit.
Jonas Brodin, the Wild's top pick in the 2011 draft, was recalled today and was on the ice at this morning's practice. Coach Mike Yeo said the odds are "very good'' that Brodin, 19, will make his NHL debut Friday at Detroit.
Brodin looked smooth, strong and comfortable in his No. 25 sweater. He was paired with Clayton Stoner, who spent time talking him through the details of the Wild system.
Stoner said he didn't have to give much instruction. He seemed very impressed with Brodin, a mobile, smart D with a well-rounded game. "He's the total package,'' Stoner said. "He brings smarts, he can make plays, he can play on the power play. He's gifted offensively. He's also smart in the D-zone and plays his position well.
"I don't think he'll be overly aggressive, but I think he's going to be in the right position at the right time. He will be sound defensively.''
Brodin is coming off an injury, a broken collarbone sustained in a collision late in a game Nov. 2. He got back into Houston's lineup only last night, playing his ninth game this season with the Aeros. He said his fitness was better than he expected and steadily improving. He didn't seem nervous, but he did exhibit the usual rookie shyness with the media clustered around his locker.
"I don't know if I'm going to play, but if they say so, I'm ready,'' he said. "It's a big step to go from Houston to the NHL. But I'm just going to play my game like I do in Sweden and Houston.''
Stoner said Brodin handles himself with great composure and maturity, particularly for a young player still new to North America. Should he play Friday, Yeo said it's likely he would be paired with Stoner. "It's nice to have a guy who's a big, strong, physical defenseman like (Stoner) and combine him with a really good skating, puck-moving defenseman,'' Yeo said. "(Brodin), in his own right, can be very good defensively as well.''
Yeo cautioned that people must temper their expectations of Brodin, given that he is a very young player with very big adjustments to make to a higher level of the game and a different culture. That didn't stop him from raving. "The ceiling is very high,'' he said. "You see the way he skates, his composure with the puck, he can do things at a very, very high level.''
Yeo said D Jared Spurgeon (sore foot) is expected to make the trip, though he didn't practice Thursday. Josh Harding will start in goal against the Red Wings. Yeo said the plan all along has been to get Harding and Niklas Backstrom in a rotation, so he had determined Harding would start Friday even before Backstrom's error in the loss to Nashville.
Yeo also said young defenseman Matt Dumba will stay with the Wild "in the immediate future'' rather than return to Red Deer. He said it will be an everyday, ongoing process to assess what the team needs and what Dumba needs, which will determine their course of action with the 18-year-old.
Over and out. Enjoy Friday's game!