The players who made the trip to Winnipeg for Monday’s preseason opener were excused from practice Tuesday. Everyone else was on the ice at Xcel Energy Center for a long and lively practice the day after a 3-2 shootout victory.
That included Mikko Koivu, whose two-year, $11 million contract extension was announced Monday night. Wild general manager Chuck Fletcher said it was a quick negotiation that was good for both sides. Koivu gets to stay in Minnesota through the 2019-20 season, and the contract terms don’t cause the Wild any salary-cap headaches.
Though Koivu will be 37 when his contract ends, Fletcher said he didn’t have any hesitation about extending him. He noted that Koivu had one of his better seasons in recent history last year, and that Koivu’s fitness regimen has made him leaner and quicker. “I think he has a lot left,’’ Fletcher said. “There’s no reason why he can’t play for a few more years.’’
Looking ahead to next summer, the Wild will need to sign Jason Zucker and Matt Dumba, who could command significant raises with strong seasons. While it’s always hard to predict what the salary cap will be, Fletcher said if it is in the $76.5-$77 million range—which he expects--the Wild “should be fine.’’
Koivu returned to practice Tuesday after sitting out Monday because of lace bite, which causes pain in the front of the leg and foot. Still no Zach Parise, who has yet to practice through five days of training camp.
Coach Bruce Boudreau, who said Monday he hoped to see some players “stand out’’ in the game at Winnipeg, issued a long list of kudos. He thought goalies Niklas Svedberg (22 saves/24 shots) and Steve Michalek (perfect on 19 shots) were “tremendous.’’ The fourth line of Justin Kloos, Kyle Rau and Zack Mitchell, who scored the Wild’s second goal, “poured on the energy’’ in the third period. Daniel Winnik “did a great job’’ killing penalties. Defensemen Mike Reilly, Gustav Olofsson and Carson Soucy “made a good account of themselves,’’ and new defenseman Kyle Quincey “did a good job.’’
Fletcher said the Wild will make roster cuts Friday, the day between home games against Winnipeg and Colorado.