GLENDALE, ARIZ. - The Wild management believes the team is too small up front and is trying to rectify the issue.
Seven hours before power winger Charlie Coyle made his NHL debut Monday night against the Phoenix Coyotes, the Wild traded Darroll Powe and minor-leaguer Nick Palmieri to the New York Rangers for rugged veteran forward Mike Rupp.
Rupp, who scored the Stanley Cup-clinching goal for New Jersey in 2003, is 6-5, 243 pounds and somebody General Manager Chuck Fletcher hopes makes Minnesota's lesser forward lines a lot tougher.
Rupp, 33, has 94 career points, has been in 76 regular-season fights and has amassed 765 penalty minutes in 565 games. But it's his grit that might help most, as the Wild seeks to get better at chipping pucks deep and wearing down opposing defensemen.
"When you go on the road, having size is important, the perception of size is important," Fletcher said. "We were looking for some size and this deal presented itself and we jumped on it. We'll see how players respond."
The Wild brass has tried to get the attention of some underperforming players since the team lost 3-1 at Anaheim on Friday. If not for Powe's departure, Devin Setoguchi or Mikael Granlund might have been scratched against the Coyotes. Instead, they landed on the fourth line with Zenon Konopka.
"This is kind of a message and let's see how they react," coach Mike Yeo said.
It's also a message that Coyle was recalled without an injury and deposited right onto the second line.
"Certainly you would want to read between the lines," Yeo said of the team.
Powe, 27, was second among NHL forwards last season with 91 blocked shots and brought energy to the Wild, but he has played a fourth-line role this season. He and Rupp both have one year left on their contracts, with Rupp's $1.5 million salary cap hit about $400,000 more than Powe's.
Palmieri, acquired in last year's Marek Zidlicky trade with New Jersey, held out last summer, then initially refused to report to Houston of the AHL after not making the Wild out of training camp last month. Palmieri was assigned by the Rangers to the Connecticut Whale of the AHL.
Rupp has been with five teams in parts of 10 seasons, including New Jersey twice. He will meet the Wild in Minnesota, practice for the first time Wednesday and should debut Thursday against Vancouver.
Yeo coached Rupp in Pittsburgh and Fletcher was on the receiving end of Rupp's first NHL goal -- the Cup-clincher in 2003 -- when Fletcher was a Ducks executive.
"Pretty bad memories of Mike Rupp," Fletcher cracked. "He wasn't my favorite player or anybody in Anaheim at that point. ... He's an honest player and shows up, he works hard and is professional. And his size and experience, I can't state that enough. I thought those were very important elements for our team."
Matt Kassian's future in Minnesota looks bleak.
Kassian, 26, a second-round draft pick in 2005, has been scratched in all nine games, and instead of simply playing the hard-nosed forward, the Wild chose to trade for the hard-nosed Rupp.
If he's not going to play, the Wild likely will give him a chance to move on via trade or waivers.
"I have to talk to Matt and his representation and see what the coaches think and do what's right for the team and for Matt going forward," Fletcher said.
• Center Matt Cullen played Monday and feels "really lucky" he walked away from a head-first crash into the boards in Anaheim: "Anytime you go into the boards awkward like that, you worry about all kind of different things. You see enough of those where ... those are no fun. You never want to be a part of that."
• Konopka on Setoguchi and Granlund playing with him: "Those guys won the lottery."