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Russo's Rants

Michael Russo gives you complete coverage of the Minnesota Wild and the NHL

Wild roster set; former Gophers star Reilly sent to minors

Barring something unforeseen, the Wild's opening night roster for Thursday in Denver may be set.

The Wild assigned defenseman Mike Reilly to AHL Iowa on Tuesday, placed right wing Jordan Schroeder on waivers and placed right wing Justin Fontaine (oblique) on injured reserve.

Reilly was initially going to be outside the Wild's top-6, so the Wild decided to send the first-year pro to the minors to play games. Schroeder technically doesn't have to be assigned to Iowa if he clears waivers tomorrow, but the move gives the Wild flexibility if there's potential roster moves like waivers or trades on the horizon or when Fontaine is ready to play.

In other words, if Schroeder were to stay on the roster after clearing waivers, he could immediately be sent to Iowa without waivers once Fontaine is ready to return. Fontaine can come off IR at any time and be eligible to play because he got hurt Sept. 24.

Last year, Fontaine missed the first two games with a glute injury and was ready to return in Game 3.

The biggest news of the day: Tyler Graovac made the team out of camp and even subtracted nine digits off his sweater number. He now will wear No. 44, which is apropos because I told somebody the other day he reminds me of Rob Niedermayer. The hope is he'll score more though.

We now interrupt this blog for a post-practice update from Rachel.

Graovac said he was sent to coach Mike Yeo's office as soon as he arrived at Xcel Energy Center for Tuesday's practice. "You never want to go there, but it was all positive,'' he said. "I worked really hard to get here. But the hard work is just beginning.''

And about that number: Graovac said he had worn number 53 since it was randomly assigned to him when he entered the Wild organization at age 18. He was asked Tuesday if he'd like to change. "(53) had started to grow on me a little bit,'' he said. "But I've always been a fan of the number 4. I've always liked it. I figured I'd just double that number.''

Some commentary from Yeo about today's moves:

--On Reilly going to Iowa: "It was really important that we kept him here as long as we could. But I don’t think it's very valuble for him to be around and not playing games right now. Basically, the message to Mike was that (going to Iowa) is not a long-term deal. We don’t know what's going to happen a week out from now, let alone two months. I just want to make sure he's concentrating on his game and when he gets his opportunity, he'll be ready to go.

"He's had a good camp. He's come a long way. This is just part of the process. He's going to be a pretty special player.''

--On Graovac: "He's gotten better, and he's going to have to keep getting better. What he did very well is he demanded a roster spot. He demanded that with his play. The message is pretty clear. Just keep doing the same.''

--On Schroeder, who will be assigned to Iowa if he clears waivers: "It was a bit of a tough camp for him. He got sick. He got hurt. And then with (Graovac) jumping up and playing center, and moving Charlie (Coyle) to the wing, that had a bit of a factor for him. We see a lot of value in (Schroeder). I think he did a great job last year, and we know he can play different roles for us. We just want to make sure his game is ready to go.''

Fontaine and Erik Haula (groin) practiced today.

That's all the news from the X--now, back to Russo.

Reminder also, I'll be hosting a live chat at at 3 p.m. Thursday -- four hours before the puck drop's on the season. I'll also be on KFAN that day at 9:35 a.m. and 4:15 p.m.

If you didn't see my profile today on Nino Niederreiter, it's a pretty fun read. Here's the link.

The Wild roster as of now:


Jason Zucker-Mikko Koivu-Nino Niederreiter

Zach Parise-Mikael Granlund-Jason Pominville

Thomas Vanek-Tyler Graovac-Charlie Coyle

Chris Porter-Erik Haula-Ryan Carter

Jordan Schroeder (I'll keep him on the roster unless he's officially sent down tomorrow)

Injured reserve: Justin Fontaine


Ryan Suter-Jared Spurgeon

Jonas Brodin-Matt Dumba

Marco Scandella-Christian Folin

Nate Prosser


Devan Dubnyk

Darcy Kuemper

Niklas Backstrom

Fontaine and Haula skate for Wild, but status still unclear

After a long practice Sunday, the Wild didn't skate Monday--or at least, most of the team didn't. Forwards Justin Fontaine and Erik Haula, working their way back from injuries, skated by themselves at St. Thomas Ice Arena. The rest of the team did an off-ice workout at Xcel.

Coach Mike Yeo returned after missing Sunday's practice and said he expects to know more soon about the status of Fontaine and Haula for the season opener. Rosters must be submitted to the NHL by 4 p.m. Tuesday; as of early Monday afternoon, Yeo wasn't sure whether Fontaine (oblique injury) and Haula (groin) will be ready to go for Thursday's game at Colorado. The coach said "we're pretty clear'' on who he wants on the 23-man roster for opening night, but it won't be settled until he has more definitive answers on his players' health.

Fontaine and Haula could return to practice Tuesday. Yeo did note that even if Fontaine is declared healthy, he might not be ready for the opener.

"He's missed a significant portion of camp,'' Yeo said. "So even if he is healthy enough to play, there are some other parts that go into it in terms of getting his conditioning up to snuff, getting his legs underneath him and making sure his game is up there, too. He's missed a lot of time here. So we'll see how it goes.''

In talking about his defensive corps Monday, Yeo said he would put his group up against anyone in the NHL. While the depth should lighten the load on ironman Ryan Suter, Yeo cautioned that he won't pare back Suter's minutes too much.

"He's not going to be playing 18 or 19 minutes a night,'' Yeo said. "He's one of the top defensemen in the National Hockey League, and we have to make sure we're utilizing him the best we can. We feel if we can take (Suter's minutes) down a little bit, that will increase the productivity for him.''



TV Listings

Local Schedule

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  • Indiana at Lynx

    7pm on ESPN2, 106.1-FM

  • Oklahoma City at Timberwolves (preseason)

    7pm on 830-AM

  • Wild at Colorado

    8pm on NBCSN, 100.3-FM

  • Lynx at Indiana

    7pm on ESPN2, 106.1-FM

  • St. Cloud State at Gophers women's hockey


  • Gophers football at Purdue

    2:30pm on ESPN, 100.3-FM

  • St. Cloud State at Gophers women's hockey


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    6pm on 830-AM

  • Vermont at Gophers men's hockey

    7pm on FSN PLUS, 1500-AM

  • Timberwolves at Toronto (preseason)

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