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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Erik Haula expects to make NHL debut; Mike Rupp leaves Wild for a few days

Posted by: Michael Russo under Wild pregame skate Updated: November 29, 2013 - 3:23 PM

The Wild has recalled center/winger Erik Haula from AHL Iowa. Veteran Mike Rupp has been designated for non-roster status because he is heading home for a few days because of a death in his family, Rupp said today.

Haula was in town for Thanksgiving, so the Wild had his equipment shipped to Minnesota from Des Moines, Iowa. He got a call yesterday that this most likely would happen.

Coach Mike Yeo is keeping tonight's roster mum until warmups, but Haula, the former Gopher, thinks he is making his NHL debut during today's 5 p.m. game against the Colorado Avalanche.

"Every time I've been here, you always think of what it feels like," Haula said. "Now it’s actually happening. It’s pretty crazy."

Haula didn't even have his suit here, saying, "Thankfully it was Black Friday. I got a good deal."

The Wild does need a second-line center and Haula says he is playing center. The original plan was to play Justin Fontaine there, but with Rupp put on non-roster status, the Wild was able to open up a roster spot for Haula. Haula is tied for second on Iowa with 10 points (four goals) in 18 games and I felt was having a great training camp until about three or four days to go.

My guess now is Fontaine only plays if Zach Parise can't because the third line is expected to be Jason Zucker-Kyle Brodziak-Dany Heatley and the fourth line is expected to be Matt Cooke-Zenon Konopka-Torrey Mitchell. I'd think Mitchell plays over Fontaine because of his penalty-kill role.

I think Parise may be playing. Yeo wouldn't say for sure, but he was just on the bench listening to music doing his normal pregame visualization.

Jean-Sebastien Giguere in goal for Colorado. My guess is Josh Harding starts for Minnesota, but we will find out soon.

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