Update: Just an fyi: Pierre-Marc Bouchard story will now run in Monday's paper. I originally told you Sunday, but with Ebbett pickup, we'll hold Bouchard a day.
As mentioned on the previous blog, the Wild has claimed Chicago Blackhawks center and former University of Michigan standout Andrew Ebbett off waivers. He's a skilled but small centerman and GM Chuck Fletcher called it a "low-risk proposition."
It's hard to acquire centers and Ebbett popped up on waivers again, and after discussing it with coach Todd Richards late last night after the game, Fletcher made the claim. As I reported in Edmonton earlier this season, sources told me the Wild was seriously considering putting in a claim for Ebbett when Anaheim first put him on waivers. But then we got to Vancouver the next day, Ebbett was claimed off waivers by Chicago and sources said the team decided not to put in that claim.
But more than a month later, the situation's a lot different with the Wild. Obviously record-wise, the team's not where it wants to be, and it's been decimated by injury. However, the Wild may actually get Martin Havlat, Chuck Kobasew and Benoit Pouliot back in practice by Monday and some if not all could potentially play against Boston or soon after.
So Fletcher said the injuries weren't the largest consideration. He just wanted to add a skilled center. Interestingly, if the Wild suddenly gets healthy next week, it'll have too many players and will have to make an interesting decision or dos.
Richards will decide how to use Ebbett, but he sounded like he'll give him a lot of responsibility after watching Ebbett up-close play second-line center in the playoffs last season for Anaheim. Richards was San Jose's assistant at the time and the Ducks beat the Sharks in the first round.
With Mikko Koivu, Ebbett, Eric Belanger and Kyle Brodziak in the fold and James Sheppard having played well at wing last night, perhaps Sheppard gets some more looks at wing? Richards said that will all be discussed in the upcoming days.
The Wild reassigned forwards Danny Irmen and Nathan Smith so they could play Sunday for the Aeros. The Wild's injury situation will determine whether or not one or both returns for the game against Boston. But again, it sounds like some of the injured guys should be back.
None of the injured guys practiced today, including ill Brent Burns. But Richards expects Burns back by Monday. Owen Nolan couldn't practice today after blocking that shot off his toe. He couldn't get his boot on, but he's expected to be OK by Wednesday. Defenseman Shane Hnidy didn't practice today either because he's "banged up," but he's also expected to be fine by Wednesday.
I forgot to mention on the blog last night, but that might have the world's worst instigating minor on Hnidy. Tim Jackman gets in Hnidy's face to fight, and because Hnidy drops his gloves fractions of a second before Jackman, he gets an instigator? I don't think that's the purpose of the rule.
The purpose is to stop players from jumping each other. To sit one of a team's six defensemen for 17 minutes for that just shows no awareness from the officials in my opinion. Somehow that's seen, but Owen Nolan getting high-sticked twice and cross-checked to the ice once in front of the refs is not seen. Although, ignoring the cross-check led to the Wild's game-winner in actuality.
OK, I've said my peace there. Wild has a real hard, skating practice today. Richards worked the you know what out of them over at St. Thomas Arena. The team will be awarded with a day off Sunday, something Richards said would not have happened had the Wild lost to the Islanders.
So with no practice Sunday, I'll talk to you next Monday (on the blog, but read the paper of course) unless there's news.