Wild coach Jacques Lemaire was happy with the way former Gopher Danny Irmen played. He knows Irmen could make his way back to St. Paul sooner than later. But a numbers crunch resulted in Irmen being one of 15 cuts the Wild made Wednesday before leaving for Detroit for tonight's game with the Red Wings.
The cuts included forwards Irmen, Steve Kelly, Roman Voloshenko, Joel Ward, Moises Gutierrez, Morten Madsen, Ryan Hamilton, Ryan Graham and Cal Clutterbuck; defensemen Clayton Stoner, Jeff May, Frederic St. Denis, Paul Albers and Maxim Noreau; and goalie Barry Brust.
All but two will be assigned to Houston; Graham will rejoin his junior team while the destination for Noreau -- who was on a tryout contract -- is yet to be decided.
"Right now we have guys under contract that we have to look at," Wild coach Jacques Lemaire said after Wednesday's afternoon practice. "And the more players we have [in camp] the tougher it is to get a good look at them, to make the right decision. I was happy with [Irmen's] game. We know what he can do. He's a guy you can call if you need him."
Irmen wasn't the only victim of the numbers. Clutterbuck was another player who had a pretty good camp.
"We were supposed to give him a game in Detroit, and we changed our mind because I want to see other guys," Lemaire said.
New schedule coming
Now that the Board of Governors has essentially agreed to scrap the current unbalanced schedule in favor of a schedule that will allow all 30 teams to play each other, Wild General Manager Doug Risebrough hopes the next step is realignment.
The Wild would prefer to play in the Central Division with Detroit, Chicago and St. Louis.
"Everything is in time," Risebrough said. "My feeling is if we can dramatically change the schedule, I think then the next target is let's start to look at where we are in terms of creating rivalries that might be more geographical."
A fast start
In his time with the Wild, defenseman Nick Schultz has gained a reputation for starting a season slowly before building some momentum.
And that's why Lemaire is so happy with what he's seeing out of Schultz so far this camp.
"I know Nick is skating better," Lemaire said. "He's sharper with the puck than he was last year in camp. It's the reason why he didn't play in the first game; the other guys needed it more than he did."
Staff writer Michael Russo contributed to this report.