Wellman becomes a force in AHL

  • Article by: MICHAEL RUSSO , Star Tribune
  • Updated: November 4, 2011 - 7:37 AM

When the Wild cut Casey Wellman late in training camp, the team sent him to Houston with simple instructions: "Go down there and dominate," Wild coach Mike Yeo said. Wellman's a good listener.

When the Wild cut Casey Wellman late in training camp, the team sent him to Houston with simple instructions: "Go down there and dominate," Wild coach Mike Yeo said.

Wellman's a good listener.

Wellman is tied for third in the American Hockey League with eight goals in 11 games, tied for first with five power-play goals and sixth with 40 shots.

Playing for new coach John Torchetti's AHL-leading Aeros, Wellman is picking up where he left off from last spring's run to the Calder Cup finals.

"Really happy with him," Aeros GM Jim Mill said. "He's scoring key goals, moving his feet, going to the hard areas. His goals are coming out of working hard, shooting the puck and going to the net hard. He's got to continue to do that."

Torchetti says Wellman is working overtime in practice shooting pucks.

"He's made an effort to work on his game," Torchetti said. "If you want to be a goal scorer, you've got to practice your shot."

Wellman, 24, suffered through an injury-plagued 2010-11 season. He was a scorer at the University of Massachusetts, tying for sixth in the nation with 23 goals before the Wild signed him in 2010.

At the NHL level, though, he hasn't showed that same ability. He has scored two goals and had four assists in 27 games with only 38 shots.

That's why as much as the Wild could probably use his speed and shot, the plan for now is to give Wellman a long stretch in the minors.

The Wild wants him to gain confidence in Houston, play in all situations and learn how to play away from the puck to gain the trust of coaches.

"Young guys have to play," Yeo said. "We can't just put Casey on the fourth line here and play him four minutes and expect him to develop his game and be at his best."

Bad landing spot

Wild winger Cal Clutterbuck inadvertently twice punched linesman Darren Gibbs in the face in the third period of Thursday's 5-1 Wild win over Vancouver. Gibbs was clearly stunned by the second one.

During a skirmish between Clutterbuck and Vancouver's Keith Ballard, Maxim Lapierre tangled with Clutterbuck by the Canucks bench. The Canucks agitator tried to lift Clutterbuck off the ice and throw him over the boards. At one point, defenseman Dan Hamhuis grabbed Clutterbuck from the bench.

Defending himself, Clutterbuck twice threw punches and hit the linesman.

"What am I going to do?" Clutterbuck said. "I don't want to say anything. I'm too worked up."

Clutterbuck, Lapierre and Hamhuis were given 10-minute misconducts. Clutterbuck should escape further discipline because the refs showed they deemed it not deliberate when he wasn't assessed a game misconduct.

"He's got one guy draped on him, he's got somebody grabbing him from the bench. He can't see what's going on. He's just trying to protect himself," Yeo said.

Etc.

• Defenseman Clayton Stoner is close to returning from a finger injury, but Yeo went with the same six defensemen who played the previous two games.

• Matt Kassian cleared waivers and was assigned to the Aeros. "Now he has a chance to go play. It wouldn't do him any good if two months have gone by and he's not playing," Yeo said. "He's still very much in our plans."

• Cody Almond (back), who has been rehabbing in Houston for three weeks, will make his season debut Friday in Hamilton.

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