ST. LOUIS – The Wild, a team that has been relatively healthy the past month, sustained two blows to its blue line Saturday.
Hours after General Manager Chuck Fletcher announced defenseman Jonas Brodin broke his right foot blocking a shot against the New York Rangers and will miss three to six weeks, defenseman Jared Spurgeon left Saturday night’s 4-1 loss to the St. Louis Blues because of an undisclosed injury in the second period.
“I don’t have an update yet, but one thing I know about Spurgeon is when he leaves a game, it’s not something small,” coach Mike Yeo said. “I’m not going to sit here and say he’s going to be out long-term, but I will say that I know he was in pain.”
The Wild placed Brodin on injured reserve and defenseman Christian Folin, who recently returned to AHL Iowa’s lineup from a concussion, played his first NHL game since Nov. 27 Saturday. Folin played on the right side of Nate Prosser, who moved to the left.
“We’ve been very healthy for this last little stretch, so now there’s some opportunity for some guys and a chance for some guys to step up,” Yeo said.
With Brodin out, Marco Scandella was paired with Matt Dumba.
Besides hurting the Wild’s depth, the injuries to Brodin and Spurgeon could handcuff Fletcher further in his attempt to make a significant trade. Brodin’s name has come up in trade talks and was the player, sources have said, that the Wild had included in its offer earlier this season for Columbus’ Ryan Johansen before he was dealt to Nashville.
Available to help
With the Wild in need of a spark, center Tyler Graovac was recalled from Iowa. He began Saturday’s game by centering Ryan Carter and Justin Fontaine on the third line.
“I’m not going to try to be a hero,” Graovac said before the game. “I’m just going to play my role and hopefully I can be part of the solution.”
Graovac was limited to one game — the season opener at Colorado — this season after making the Wild out of training camp. But he came to camp with a lingering hip injury that turned into an abdominal issue that ultimately required surgery.
He began playing for Iowa in mid-December and, according to Fletcher and assistant GM Brent Flahr, he has recently started to get more up to speed. Graovac has scored two goals and five assists and is minus-9 in 19 games for Iowa.
“I’ve never felt better, to be honest,” he said. “My first 10 games I had little kinks here and there and a couple cramps and just stuff working out in my body and new things for me, but I knew it would take me a little bit. … Right now I’m not even thinking about it.”
Blues captain David Backes, 31, is in the final year of his contract and hopes to remain in St. Louis. But after last season’s third consecutive first-round exit, the Spring Lake Park and Minnesota State Mankato product’s future is up in the air.
“There’s definitely desire from me to stay and I think the team wants me back, but there’s a business side that needs to be hammered out and it’s got to make sense for both sides and the direction the team is going and the direction I’d like to go,” Backes said. “We’ll see how it sorts itself out. It’s not done. There’s plenty of hockey to be played.”