The puck drops on the 2013 Minnesota Wild season in 96 hours. Because of that, Wednesday night's 7 p.m. scrimmage at Xcel Energy Center will mean a lot.
Good evening from Chateau Russo, where I'm so glad to be writing about neutral-zone forechecks and not disclaimers of interests and memorandums of understandings.
The Wild re-released a limited amount of tickets for Wednesday's scrimmage and they've already been scooped up, so unless you have a ticket, find a really good friend that has one and beg OR watch on Fox Sports North OR listen to KFAN (100.3-FM).
And, of course, follow along on my Twitter, @russostrib.
FSN coverage begins at 6:30 p.m. with a pregame show, and remember, Becoming Wild Episode 1, (I've dubbed, The Cal Clutterbuck Story) will re-air at 6 p.m. Episode 1 will re-air again after the scrimmage, followed by Becoming Wild, Episode 2 (I've dubbed, The Life and Times of Kyle Brodziak's Brother's Mustache).
Doors open at 6. Also, all Hockey Lodge locations will hold a 50% off sale all day. The sale is limited to floor stock only while supplies last and a limit of one jersey per person. Tickets go on sale at 8 a.m. at the X; noon at wild.com and Ticketmaster.
The scrimmage will be a real one. There will Wild and Aeros split between the two teams. Real rules, refs, 20-minute periods with new 18-minute intermissions that will make my heart explode on deadline.
The scrimmage will be real important for a number of guys: (I'm hoping Mikko has a good game," joked Yeo).
The top-12 forwards are pretty much set:
Zach Parise-Mikko Koivu-Dany Heatley
Matt Cullen-Mikael Granlund-Devin Setoguchi
Cal Clutterbuck-Kyle Brodziak-P-M Bouchard
Darroll Powe-Zenon Konopka-Torrey Mitchell
Eleven of those forwards are on one-way deals, which means they'd have to get their NHL salaries in the minors (not Granlund).
Max, the Wild can only keep 13 or 14 forwards, so that will likely be two of Matt Kassian (one-way), Stephane Veilleux, Jake Dowell or Nick Palmieri.
Coach Mike Yeo said this is a very important scrimmage for them. It's their last evaluation. For any of those four to get the minors, they have to be put on waivers. That would have to come Thursday because opening night rosters must be submitted Friday at 2 p.m. CT.
But as you can read in my story in Wednesday's paper, GM Chuck Fletcher said the opening lineup could be rendered meaningless by Game 2. With injuries and performance in a shortened season, there will be plenty of adjustments this year, so if you don't make the team, you'll be back.
That's especially true for prospects like Jason Zucker, Charlie Coyle and Johan Larsson.
"Whether it's guys that are here, guys in Houston, we're going to have good depth, and good in the sense that we have youth and we have veteran presence, and sometimes you need one, and sometimes you need the other," Yeo said. "We also have skill and we have role players, and again, sometimes you need one and sometimes you need the other."
Again, the anticipated D pairings are (with Marco Scandella and Jonas Brodin hurt; both skated today; few weeks away):
Ryan Suter-Jared Spurgeon
Clayton Stoner-Tom Gilbert
Justin Falk-Nate Prosser
Steve Kampfer and Matt Dumba are the extras right now
By the way, if you didn't notice, Vancouver's David Booth is out six weeks with a torn groin sustained in fitness testing. Just mentioning it because this is the exact reason Fletcher said he chose not to do fitness testing this year. He wanted to avoid somebody getting hurt during it.