Michael Russo has covered the National Hockey League since 1995. He has covered the Minnesota Wild for the Star Tribune since 2005, after 10 years of covering the Florida Panthers for the Sun-Sentinel. He uses “Russo’s Rants” to feed a wide-ranging hockey-centric discussion with readers, and can be heard weekly on KFAN (100.3 FM) radio and seen weekly on Fox Sports North.

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Jason Zucker, Jake Dowell reassigned to Iowa; Fontaine, Dumba among those staying

Posted by: Michael Russo under Wild news, Wild player moves, Wild practice, Wild training camp Updated: September 29, 2013 - 9:50 AM

The Wild has assigned Jason Zucker and Jake Dowell to Iowa of the American Hockey League, trimming its roster to 22 players this morning.

Obviously disappointed, Zucker left the Xcel Energy Center with his bag and sticks and declined to comment.

Again, as the Wild has said over and over this camp, in its mind, whoever didn't make the opening-night roster simply won't be in the lineup opening night vs. L.A. on Thursday. It's not, "not making the team."

With Iowa in such close proximity and so many players on contracts that allow the Wild to send them up and down freely, this could happen for some time.

Zucker will be back at some point. But against big, tough L.A., coach Mike Yeo must feel he needs rugged Zenon Konopka in the lineup, meaning one of the kids will be scratched.

Zucker would be that guy. He's admitted to feeling sore since his groin injury, Mikael Granlund has also had a quality camp and the second power play has two shooters in Charlie Coyle and Nino Niederreiter. Zucker is a shooter, Granlund a puck distributor.

We haven't talked to Yeo or GM Chuck Fletcher, but to send Dowell down and go below the maximum 23, the Wild is likely looking to save precious salary-cap space since Dowell would be the clear extra forward. This also would allow the Wild to sign David Steckel at any time if it wants.

So, as of now, UMD-Bulldog Justin Fontaine is on the team. Same with Granlund, Niederreiter and Matt Dumba.

And of course, Coyle.

By the way, Niklas Backstrom and Josh Harding are practicing today here at the X, as well as Torrey Mitchell. The Wild heads to Duluth for two days after practice.

Opening Night roster as of now (must be submitted at 4 p.m. Monday)

Forwards

Zach Parise-Mikko Koivu-Jason Pominville

Dany Heatley-Charlie Coyle-Justin Fontaine

Matt Cooke-Kyle Brodziak-Torrey Mitchell

Mikael Granlund-Zenon Konopka-Nino Niederreiter

(If it were me, I'd switch Fontaine and Niederreiter, but Fontaine's been on that line most of camp, so I'll put him there for now)

Defensemen

Ryan Suter-Jonas Brodin

Marco Scandella-Jared Spurgeon

Keith Ballard-Matt Dumba

Clayton Stoner-Nate Prosser

Goalies

Niklas Backstrom

Josh Harding

Injured: Mike Rupp (knee)

More later

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