LOS ANGELES – The Wild expects to have five of its players at next month’s Winter Olympics.
Injured Mikko Koivu and youngster Mikael Granlund were named to Team Finland on Tuesday. They’ll join already-named teammates Zach Parise and Ryan Suter (United States) and Nino Niederreiter (Switzerland) in Sochi, Russia.
However, defenseman Jonas Brodin didn’t make the cut to be part of Sweden’s deep blue line. Picked were Erik Karlsson, Oliver Ekman-Larsson, Alex Edler, Niklas Kronwall, Jonathan Ericsson, Johnny Oduya, Niklas Hjalmarsson and Henrik Tallinder.
“I don’t mind him getting the rest during the break, but it would have been a tremendous experience,” Wild General Manager Chuck Fletcher said. “I believe he’s among the best eight Swedish defensemen in the world, but it looks like they put an emphasis on experience, and that’s their choice.”
Brodin, 20, got a text a week ago that he will be among the first choices if there’s an injury.
“We have some good D-men in Sweden,” Brodin said. “If someone gets injured, I’m ready to play.”
Granlund was excited and hopes to go over with Koivu, who is out a month because of ankle surgery Monday. Koivu is expected to captain Finland if he can play.
“Everybody in Finland wants Mikko to be ready to play there,” Granlund said. “Hopefully he gets better fast.”
On making the team, Granlund said, “It’s always an honor to put that Team Finland jersey on.”
Bulmer injures knee
Prospect Brett Bulmer, who has had a string of bad luck since he turned pro, was injured in his first game back with Iowa after being reassigned Sunday.
In Monday’s game against Milwaukee, Bulmer went sideways over a fallen defenseman on the forecheck. He had to be helped off because of a high ankle sprain and a potentially serious knee injury.
“It could be significant,” Fletcher said. “I don’t want to speculate until we see what the MRI says, but it looks like it could be bad news. That would be terrible news for the kid.
“He had a hard time getting on the right track last year. This year, his game was just growing and he looks like a quality prospect again and on the right path to being an NHL player. If he misses a significant amount of time, it’ll slow that development curve. I don’t have any doubts he’ll get there, but this hurts.”
Praise for Olofsson
Fletcher was delighted by the play of 2013 second-round draft pick Gustov Olofsson during the World Junior Championship. The defenseman, who plays at Colorado College, won a silver medal with Sweden.
“He played tremendous,” Fletcher said. “I heard from a few general managers around the league about how impressed they were with him, and obviously our scouts were really happy with his performance.
“Remember, he was playing Midget hockey in Denver two years ago. To emerge like he has in the world scene, arguably I don’t know if there was a defenseman who played better in that tournament. He had an important role and was a key contributor and certainly looks like he has a bright future.”