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Eric Nystrom

David Brewster, Star Tribune

Wild's move puts Nystrom in play

  • Article by: MICHAEL RUSSO
  • Star Tribune
  • October 11, 2011 - 10:51 PM

OTTAWA, ONTARIO - Eric Nystrom is on his way back to Minnesota, but the question is for how long.

Nystrom, reassigned last week to Houston of the American Hockey League, was placed on re-entry waivers by the Wild on Tuesday -- a mechanism that might be designed to entice another team to claim Nystrom at half his $1.4 million salary.

At least publicly, however, General Manager Chuck Fletcher said, "[Nystrom's] an NHL player. He works hard, he plays center, wing; it gives us more versatility. We made the move earlier to create a little flexibility to take a look at some players, but the intention all along was for him to come back at some point.

"It just makes sense to do it now."

But does it? If Nystrom makes his way back to the Wild, he'll be the 24th on a 23-man roster, meaning the Wild must make a roster move Wednesday.

The three options:

1) Make a trade; 2) Place a player on injured reserve; 3) Reassign a player who does not require waivers. Only three players fit that criteria -- defensemen Marco Scandella and Jared Spurgeon to Houston and right winger Brett Bulmer, who would have to permanently return to Kelowna of the Western Hockey League.

So it's more likely the Wild is banking on Nystrom being an appetizing waiver pickup at half price.

The Dallas Stars might need a salary to get to the $48.3 million salary cap floor, and Montreal tried to claim Blair Betts (who fits the Nystrom mold) off waivers last week, but he since has been returned to Philadelphia because of an injury.

Boogaard's father honors with donation

In honor of his late son, Derek Boogaard's father, Len, and his wife, Jody Vail, purchased four Ottawa Senators season tickets and donated them to four military bases in Ottawa.

Each game during a TV timeout, four soldiers that have returned from deployment are honored.

"Derek really got heavily involved in helping the military, and he had talked to me about once he was done playing hockey wanting to participate in the military," said Len Boogaard, a Royal Canadian Mounted Police officer based in Ottawa. "It seemed to give him a real sense of purpose. I hadn't seen him get so excited about something until he got involved with the military and National Guard with Burnzie [Brent Burns] and Shane Hudella [of Defending the Blue Line]."

Len Boogaard hasn't worked since his son died May 13 of a toxic mix of painkillers and alcohol. He said this is another way to preserve his son's memory.

"In light of how people are harping how he died, it's a special way to show people there was more to Derek than that," Len Boogaard said.

Quick with the wit

Dany Heatley's return to Ottawa created a media frenzy Tuesday morning. Wild coach Mike Yeo pretended he misunderstood about whom a reporter was talking when asked if he sensed the game meant something to Heatley.

"You know what it's going to be like when you're coming back to an old building, you're hearing all the fans booing and everybody's giving you a hard time, but Cully's an experienced guy. I think he'll bounce back from it."

Yeo was jokingly referring to Matt Cullen, who was playing his first game in Ottawa since signing with the Wild.

Etc.

• Defenseman Marek Zidlicky was the only player who skipped Tuesday's optional morning skate, "so we'll use that against him," kidded Yeo.

• Josh Harding is "99 percent" back from an ankle injury, but Yeo decided to give Niklas Backstrom a third consecutive start in goal Tuesday.

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