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.
Also find Russo on Facebook.
Email Michael to talk about hockey.
The Wild has assigned Jason Zucker and Jake Dowell to Iowa of the American Hockey League, trimming its roster to 22 players this morning.
Obviously disappointed, Zucker left the Xcel Energy Center with his bag and sticks and declined to comment.
Again, as the Wild has said over and over this camp, in its mind, whoever didn't make the opening-night roster simply won't be in the lineup opening night vs. L.A. on Thursday. It's not, "not making the team."
With Iowa in such close proximity and so many players on contracts that allow the Wild to send them up and down freely, this could happen for some time.
Zucker will be back at some point. But against big, tough L.A., coach Mike Yeo must feel he needs rugged Zenon Konopka in the lineup, meaning one of the kids will be scratched.
Zucker would be that guy. He's admitted to feeling sore since his groin injury, Mikael Granlund has also had a quality camp and the second power play has two shooters in Charlie Coyle and Nino Niederreiter. Zucker is a shooter, Granlund a puck distributor.
We haven't talked to Yeo or GM Chuck Fletcher, but to send Dowell down and go below the maximum 23, the Wild is likely looking to save precious salary-cap space since Dowell would be the clear extra forward. This also would allow the Wild to sign David Steckel at any time if it wants.
So, as of now, UMD-Bulldog Justin Fontaine is on the team. Same with Granlund, Niederreiter and Matt Dumba.
And of course, Coyle.
By the way, Niklas Backstrom and Josh Harding are practicing today here at the X, as well as Torrey Mitchell. The Wild heads to Duluth for two days after practice.
Opening Night roster as of now (must be submitted at 4 p.m. Monday)
Zach Parise-Mikko Koivu-Jason Pominville
Dany Heatley-Charlie Coyle-Justin Fontaine
Matt Cooke-Kyle Brodziak-Torrey Mitchell
Mikael Granlund-Zenon Konopka-Nino Niederreiter
(If it were me, I'd switch Fontaine and Niederreiter, but Fontaine's been on that line most of camp, so I'll put him there for now)
Ryan Suter-Jonas Brodin
Marco Scandella-Jared Spurgeon
Keith Ballard-Matt Dumba
Clayton Stoner-Nate Prosser
Injured: Mike Rupp (knee)
The Wild cut its roster to 28 players Tuesday morning, sending 11 players to its AHL affiliate in Iowa and putting seven others on waivers with the intent of assigning them to Iowa on Wednesday.
Forward Erik Haula and Carson McMillan, both of whom had performed well in camp, were among Tuesday's cuts. Haula, Raphael Bussieres, Josh Caron, Kris Foucault, Tyler Graovac and Zack Phillips are the forwards sent to Iowa; defensemen who will join them are Corbin Baldwin, Colton Jobke and Kyle Medvec. Goalies Darcy Kuemper and Johan Gustafsson also were assigned to Iowa.
Players placed on waivers with intent to send to Iowa: Forwards McMillan, Stephane Veilleux and Chad Rau; defensemen Jonathon Blum, Brian Connelly, Steven Kampfer and Jon Landry. Kurtis Gabriel also was assigned to Owen Sound of the OHL.
Mikael Grandlund is practicing today, but Mikko Koivu is not. We'll have an update later.
UPDATE: Koivu did not practice Tuesday because his fiancee is in labor. Wild coach Mike Yeo expects him in the lineup for Wednesday's preseason game against St. Louis. Granlund, who has what the Wild is calling a "slight upper-body injury,'' looked good in practice. Yeo said if Granlund is feeling fine, he will play Wednesday.
Other post-practice notes Tuesday:
--Yeo sounded doubtful that forward Mike Rupp (offseason knee surgery) will be ready to go when the season starts. "That's going to be a stretch,'' Yeo said. "He's feeling better. I'm not going to rule it out. But he's got to get some quality practice time in. He's got a lot of catching up to do.''
--The coach lauded Haula's speed, positioning and ability to read plays. But he said none of the players cut Tuesday were going to make the opening-night roster, so it was best to move them along. "The young kids, the prospects, they need to play,'' Yeo said. "So let's get them on their way and get them started.''
--Forward Justin Fontaine was happy to have a locker in the main room, squeezed in next to the stereo and the goalies. To keep it, Yeo said, he will have to put the puck in the net or create a chance for someone else to do the same. "He's going to have to be a guy who contributes offensively,'' Yeo said. "He's going to have to be a guy who's creating and making plays.'' Fontaine said the coaches want to see him refine the details of his game, particularly when it comes to following the Wild's systems.
--Defenseman Matt Dumba had a place in the main locker room, too: a temporary stall with a folding chair. He wasn't complaining. Yeo continued to laud Dumba for working his way out of a jam in Monday's 2-1 shootout victory over Columbus, when Dumba persevered after two lousy periods and righted himself in the third. "That was a big step for me,'' Dumba said. "I calmed myself down and found my game. ... That was huge for me.''
In other news, Ryan Suter was named to the NHL's First All-Star Team. He led the NHL in average ice time (27:16), playing over 30 minutes 10 times. He was second amongst defensemen in assists (28) and third in points (32).
The news comes a few days after his partner, Jonas Brodin, was named to the NHL's All-Rookie Team.
As you can see below, Alex Ovechkin made First and Second Team at different positions. First time this has ever happened and one reason why there was such a delay in the announcement.
2012-2013 NHL First All-Star Team
GP W L OT GAA SV% SO
G Sergei Bobrovsky, Columbus Blue Jackets 38 21 11 6 2.00 .932 4
GP Mins. G A Pts
D P.K. Subban, Montreal Canadiens 42 23:14 11 27 38
D Ryan Suter, Minnesota Wild 48 27:16 4 28 32
C Sidney Crosby, Pittsburgh Penguins 36 21:06 15 41 56
RW Alex Ovechkin, Washington Capitals 48 20:53 32 24 56
LW Chris Kunitz, Pittsburgh Penguins 48 18:01 22 30 52
2012-2013 NHL Second All-Star Team
GP W L OT GAA SV% SO
G Henrik Lundqvist, New York Rangers 43 24 16 3 2.05 .926 2
GP Mins. G A Pts
D Francois Beauchemin, Anaheim Ducks 48 23:27 6 18 24
D Kris Letang, Pittsburgh Penguins 35 25:38 5 33 38
C Jonathan Toews, Chicago Blackhawks 47 19:20 23 25 48
RW Martin St. Louis, Tampa Bay Lightning 48 21:59 17 43 60
LW Alex Ovechkin, Washington Capitals 48 20:53 32 24 56
|Vikings (35)||Gophers injuries (2)|
|Gophers on TV (1)||Gophers coaches (2)|
|Gophers players (7)||Gophers game day (6)|
|Gophers postgame (12)||Gophers awards and honors (1)|
|Gophers post season (1)||St. Cloud State (1)|
|Wild news (497)||Bears (6)|
|Lions (2)||NFL draft (1)|
|Packers (2)||Super Bowl (6)|
|Vikings fans (3)||Ex-players (1)|
|Injury report (1)||On the road (209)|
|Rookies (42)||Roster moves (14)|
|Vikings draft (91)||Vikings trade talk (3)|
|Fighting (3)||Stanley Cup (28)|
|Wild coaching (33)||Wild game coverage (419)|
|Wild management (16)||Wild off-season news (474)|
|Wild player moves (129)||Wild practice (358)|
|Wild pregame skate (378)||Wild trade news (37)|
|Wild training camp (130)||Adrian Peterson (4)|
|Ben Leber (1)||Bernard Berrian (1)|
|Brad Childress (3)||Brett Favre (5)|
|Jared Allen (2)||Leslie Frazier (1)|
|Brad Childress (3)||Leslie Frazier (1)|
|NHL news (1)||2010 Winter Games (5)|
|Olympic hockey (27)||Olympic luge (3)|
|Olympic ski jumping (2)||Olympic skiing (2)|
|NHL draft (7)||Gophers sports (3)|