Matt Cullen has not played in five of six preseason games for the Wild, leaving coach Bruce Boudreau cautious about the 40-year-old’s season outlook.
“I don’t know; we haven’t seen him play yet,” Boudreau said Thursday morning. “We have seen him play one game. I think on paper, in the summer, it’s important [re-signing Cullen], and he brings a lot to the table. He’s just another guy we want to get a little bit healthier and hopefully he gets to play Saturday night.”
The Wild plays its final preseason game that night against Dallas before opening the regular season on Thursday at Detroit.
Cullen, who turns 41 in November, skated at full speed during Thursday’s optional practice but did not play in the Wild’s 3-2 preseason victory over the St. Louis Blues on Thursday night in Kansas City, Mo. Boudreau was looking forward to seeing 15 or 16 of the team’s regulars play together in that game.
Cullen’s one preseason game came against Winnipeg on Sept. 21, when he logged 14 minutes, 33 seconds of ice time. Cullen was said to be day-to-day with an unspecified injury earlier this week, though the coaches were encouraged with his progress in practice.
Cullen played 72 regular-season games and 25 postseason games for the Pittsburgh Penguins last season.
Parise to go 0-for-7
Zach Parise was one of four Wild players still on the roster who didn’t skate in Thursday’s optional practice and is not expected to play Saturday, meaning he will have missed all seven preseason games with a back issue. “He hasn’t taken physical contact yet, so I would venture to guess no [Parise won’t play Saturday],” Boudreau said.
Boudreau added to the recent praise GM Chuck Fletcher heaped on 19-year-old center Luke Kunin, who scored against the Blues on Thursday night.
“I think we’ve got the idea of what Luke Kunin is all about,” Boudreau said. “He’s going to be a solid NHL player for a lot of years, whether it’s right now at the start, or much down the road or six months down the road. We know his character and he can play.”
• Defenseman Matt Dumba returned to practice after tweaking an ankle in Tuesday’s game.
• Boudreau returned to the team after missing two preseason games following the Wednesday celebration of life of his younger brother, Bryan. “I don’t think we will really miss a step here,” Boudreau said. “It’s just work as usual now.”
• The Wild assigned goaltender Niklas Svedberg to Iowa, after he cleared waivers. The former Boston Bruins goalie is basically third on the Wild’s goaltender depth chart behind Devan Dubnyk and Alex Stalock.
• All six other players the Wild placed on waivers Wednesday (Alex Grant, Pat Cannone, Landon Ferraro, Kurtis Gabriel, Zack Mitchell and Cal O’Reilly) cleared and were sent to Iowa, as well.