Wild forward Brett Bulmer (54)
Marlin Levison, Star Tribune file
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Seventeen players cut from Wild roster
- Article by: MICHAEL RUSSO
- Star Tribune
- September 25, 2011 - 11:49 PM
Brett Bulmer is used to being noticed.
Sure, it's typically by opposing tough guys and stars who want to rip his head off, but Bulmer has learned in his young 19 years that it's better to be recognized than ignored.
On Sunday, the Kelowna Rockets winger was both recognized and, better yet, ignored by Wild management, which was busy tapping players on the shoulder with the intent of kicking them out of Dodge.
Seventeen players were given the boot, but none was Brett Bulmer.
Yes, Bulmer may look like he should be carded to get into a R-rated movie, but he will at least last another week of training camp and appears closer than anybody could ever have imagined to making the Wild's opening night roster.
Bulmer was the most surprising of the roster contenders who stuck around Sunday.
The Wild chopped its roster, which can be a maximum 23 players, to 24 healthy ones, keeping Bulmer and Casey Wellman as the extra forwards and reassigning such notables as Jed Ortmeyer, Warren Peters and Jarod Palmer.
Not including injured Mike Lundin, the Wild also kept eight defensemen, including Marco Scandella, Justin Falk and Nate Prosser, and released former Chicago Blackhawks defenseman Jordan Hendry from his tryout.
The hefty cuts show the Wild felt it was time to get to a more manageable group so coach Mike Yeo can prepare for the Oct. 8 opener.
"The first week of camp needs to be about evaluation. The next two weeks have to be about team-building," GM Chuck Fletcher said. "We have to get ready to win games. If we made a mistake on evaluation, we'll have the ability to rectify it later on, but we can't keep spending time worrying about every single positional battle. At some point, we had to put a team on the ice and say, 'Let's get going.'"
There could still be more roster cuts. For instance, if Lundin is ready to start the season, one more defenseman is sure to be axed.
But because Scandella, Falk and Prosser have impressed, Fletcher told Hendry he'd be willing to sign him to a two-way contract and start him in Houston if he's unable to land a one-way contract elsewhere.
"Ultimately it's up to Jordan," Fletcher said. "Nate Prosser has made huge strides as a professional, and Justin Falk is in his fourth pro season and continues to get better every year after getting a taste last year [22 games with the Wild].
"Marco Scandella is going to be a big part of our future. He's shown flashes of the ability we think is going to make him a top defenseman in the league. For a guy like Marco [who's 21], he's going to have to play in our top six or else we'll look to put him in Houston. It doesn't make much sense for him to be a seventh, eighth defenseman."
Up front, Wellman missed most of camp with an injured back, then an illness.
"It's been tough to evaluate Casey ... so we'll make a decision later this week whether he starts with us or not," Fletcher said.
As for Bulmer, the lanky 6-2 forward can skate and protect the puck. He's got good hands and, just as impressive, grit and guts.
"It's hard to find that type of tenacity and aggressiveness with his skill," assistant GM Brent Flahr said.
Bulmer showed that last week in an exhibition game when on his first two shifts he almost started riots by jabbing rising Edmonton Oilers stars Magnus Paajarvi and Taylor Hall.
"There's a lot to like. We think he can be a big, strong power winger," Fletcher said. "We've got to do what's right for the team and what's right for Brett, and right now the right thing in both cases is to keep him here.
"He would love to stay here. He's excited. But he recognizes when you're 19, he's going to have to be playing to be around here this season. So he has work to do to prove he belongs. This will be a big test for him. The pace of play will pick up this week, the games will get faster and the lineups will get stronger. We'll see if he can continue to keep pace."
As Flahr said, "He hasn't looked out of place yet."
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