Wellman, Wild never really clicked

  • Article by: Star Tribune
  • Updated: February 3, 2012 - 10:49 PM
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Casey Wellman was a high-profile college free agent signed by the Wild, but he spent most of this season in the minor leagues.

Photo: Jim Mone, Associated Press

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DALLAS - In March 2010 when the Wild signed Casey Wellman, he was Chuck Fletcher's first big college free-agent pickup out of the University of Massachusetts.

Wellman immediately was considered the Wild's top prospect. But that was pre-Mikael Granlund, Brett Bulmer, Johan Larsson, Jason Zucker, Charlie Coyle, Zack Phillips and Mario Lucia.

Slowly, Wellman slipped down the depth chart, scored only 13 points in 41 games over three seasons and on Friday was traded to the New York Rangers for Erik Christensen.

"I wanted things to work out in Minnesota and it's disappointing that it didn't," Wellman said. "I had some chances there, but stuff like this happens and I just look forward to the future and hopefully I get a good opportunity."

Wellman was assigned by the Rangers to the AHL Connecticut Whale.

"I still think he's going to find his way and become a regular NHL player, but we have a lot of returning forwards next year and we have six young prospects that are turning pro," Fletcher said. "I can assure you it wasn't a case of offering Casey around, but we've been working on this for a couple weeks. We tried several different options, and this is what they insisted upon."

Staring down a curse

The Wild will try to kill the Curse of the North Stars yet again Saturday night when it tries to end a 14-game winless streak at American Airlines Center. The Wild hasn't won there since March 21, 2003, and not in regulation since March 8, 2002.

"I'm kind of excited about this," coach Mike Yeo said. "It's a new team. There are certain buildings that you go in and you have confidence in and they're confident against you. But the way I see it, we played a pretty good game against Dallas [Jan. 21 at home], and I don't think we're in a position where we can sit here and look what happened two or three years ago."

Defenseman Nick Schultz, the only healthy Wild player who has been around long enough to realize the streak, said: "I don't think it carries over. We have new guys, a different coach, so I don't think it's a factor."

Defensemen redeemed

Tuesday against Nashville, defensemen Greg Zanon and Clayton Stoner played starring roles in the third and fifth goals of the Predators' comeback win. They redeemed themselves in Thursday's victory at Colorado.

Yeo said both "responded with great games," particularly Zanon. "I thought his execution was great back there."

Said Zanon: "We just put it behind us. We looked at the tape after and there were some things we could have done better. We were having a good game and stuff happens sometimes. We forgot about it, had an opportunity to play again and did what we could to help the team win."

Stoner sustained a lower-body injury in the second period and is doubtful to play against the Stars.

Etc.

• Owen Nolan is expected to retire from the NHL on Tuesday. The 1990 No. 1 overall pick played his final two years with the Wild, scoring 41 goals and recording 78 points. He had 422 goals and 463 assists in 1,200 NHL games.

• To make room for Christensen, Chad Rau was reassigned to Houston.

• Because of weather delays in Denver, the Wild arrived at its Dallas hotel at 4 a.m. Friday. It had an optional practice, but most players had an off-ice workout.

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