Michael Russo has covered the National Hockey League since 1995. He has covered the Minnesota Wild for the Star Tribune since 2005, after 10 years of covering the Florida Panthers for the Sun-Sentinel. He uses “Russo’s Rants” to feed a wide-ranging hockey-centric discussion with readers, and can be heard weekly on KFAN (100.3 FM) radio and seen weekly on Fox Sports North.

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Koivu injury could throw team in even larger state of flux

Posted by: Michael Russo under On the road, Wild news, Wild practice Updated: January 16, 2012 - 9:34 AM

Morning. I leave in a few hours for Philadelphia, so Kent Youngblood will be covering today's practice and the subsequent Chuck Fletcher update on captain Mikko Koivu. Follow him on twitter at @bloodstrib.

As I reported in today's paper, I'm hearing it's not good on Koivu. You leave an arena with your shoulder in a sling, you measure that in weeks, not games. I'm hearing 4-6 and separated.

We'll see how forthcoming the Wild will be because sometimes when it's a floating window, they won't give an exact timetable -- like with Devin Setoguchi's knee. Actually, lately the Wild's avoided giving exact injuries unless it's a concussion. A few years ago, Koivu did play with a torn shoulder labrum, but he won't be playing with this.

I've gotten a few questions if Dany Heatley would replace Koivu in the All-Star Game to add a little drama (game's in Ottawa, where he's not beloved) to the weekend. There's no directive to replace a Wild player with another unless he's a worthy candidate, so I'm not so sure the Wild will have a representative anymore. I'd think Radim Vrbata gets the call or Scottie Hartnell.

The Wild is down to 11 forwards right now, and so far, no callup. I've been told Fletcher has been trying to make a trade before calling up a player. I just don't know what he can do without delving into the prospect pool. And that, he has said he is unwilling to do unless it's a deal that makes sense for the future.

On the actual roster, I think the only player that maybe can get you a top-6 forward is Josh Harding, and again, that's a maybe. Tampa Bay may be looking for a goalie as long as it's one for the future.  

Some guys available? Maybe the Rangers' Wojtek Wolski, who has been a healthy scratch lately, and Erik Christensen, who hasn't played since Dec. 17 and then basically asked to be sent to the minors on a conditioning stint so he could play. Fletcher does have a history with him from Pittsburgh, but, man, that'd be just adding a body in my opinion.

Columbus' Derick Brassard has been taken off the market, I was told last night, since Scott Arniel was fired. He's played real well his first couple games under Todd Richards.

Rentals maybe available? Ales Hemsky, Vinny Prospal, Tuomo Ruutu (Koivu's best bud), etc. Basically, at this point, I think the only rentals you could get are unrestricted free agent forwards from teams out of the playoff race. So, that really limits you in a league that's designed to keep everybody in it.

Unless there's a trade today, the Wild will have to call up a player. If they feel they 100 percent need a centerman, I'd think Chad Rau gets the call. But we will see.

A couple tough games coming up for the Wild in Philly and Toronto and this is a team sinking and 0-7-2 in its past 9 on the road. As we have witnessed before when Koivu is out, the Wild typically can play hard and pick up the slack for a few games. But eventually, TIMBER!

 

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