Bulmer headed back to juniors

  • Article by: KENT YOUNGBLOOD , Star Tribune
  • Updated: November 1, 2011 - 8:29 AM

The Wild decided that Brett Bulmer needed big minutes and the opportunity to play in big situations, and his playing time in the NHL was decreasing.

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Brett Bulmer (19)

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On Saturday, Wild coach Mike Yeo suggested fans not read too much into Brett Bulmer being a healthy scratch. By Monday, Bulmer was headed back to his junior team.

The 6-3, 185-pound right winger played in the Wild's first nine games, posting three assists and a plus-1 rating. Had he appeared in a 10th game, this would have counted as the first year of his three-year contract.

The Wild decided that Bulmer needed big minutes and the opportunity to play in big situations, and his playing time in the NHL was decreasing.

"As I've said from Day 1, you look at a couple things," Wild General Manager Chuck Fletcher said. "Is he contributing to the team? And is he developing? His role has diminished a bit the last few days, and it just doesn't make sense to keep a 19-year-old player around an NHL team when he's not playing regularly."

Bulmer was not available to comment before leaving to rejoin his Western Hockey League team in Kelowna, British Columbia, but he was interviewed for the team's website.

"I did a lot of good things here that I'm really proud of," he said. "But, for me, being 19, they want me play a lot. Going back to juniors will only benefit me. It's hard to understand right now, but it's probably good in the long run, I guess."

Because he is younger than 20 and has junior eligibility remaining, Bulmer is not allowed by NHL rules to play in the AHL. He either has to play in the NHL or for his junior team.

Bulmer was one of the biggest surprises of training camp. His physical and confident play won him a spot in the opening night lineup, but he was destined to be a third- or fourth-liner.

"We have to make sure he's getting significant minutes," Yeo said. "He'll have that opportunity now. Everything about this should be positive. He came out of camp, earned his way onto this team. He really showed some things. Now he has a chance to go back to juniors and take that with him and build off that."

While Bulmer and Nick Johnson weren't in direct competition, it's clear Johnson's strong play helped the Wild make this decision.

Yeo said Bulmer was disappointed.

"The thing is, it's not like his door is closing," Yeo said. "It's an opportunity to go back and continue to develop and prepare himself so that next time he gets up here, he gets a chance to put on a Minnesota Wild jersey, he's going to be here for good."

Injury update

Defenseman Mike Lundin, who has been out because of back spasms since training camp began, took another step in his return by skating on his own before Wild practice Monday. "He has progressed a lot in the last few weeks," Fletcher said. But as far as Lundin rejoining the Wild at practice? Fletcher said there was "nothing imminent."

Cody Almond, who also has missed every game because of a back injury, should be cleared to return to the ice by next weekend, Fletcher said. His return will come with the AHL's Houston Aeros. Fletcher said Almond would be sent there after receiving final medical clearance.

Defenseman Clayton Stoner (finger) didn't skate Monday and won't travel to Detroit for Tuesday's game. Defenseman Greg Zanon (groin) continues to skate on his own but has not yet returned to practice with the team.

Etc.

• Yeo reunited the top line of center Mikko Koivu with Dany Heatley at right wing and Devin Setoguchi at left wing. That put Guillaume Latendresse on the second line with center Matt Cullen and winger Pierre-Marc Bouchard.

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