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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The Wild cut its roster to 28 players Tuesday morning, sending 11 players to its AHL affiliate in Iowa and putting seven others on waivers with the intent of assigning them to Iowa on Wednesday.
Forward Erik Haula and Carson McMillan, both of whom had performed well in camp, were among Tuesday's cuts. Haula, Raphael Bussieres, Josh Caron, Kris Foucault, Tyler Graovac and Zack Phillips are the forwards sent to Iowa; defensemen who will join them are Corbin Baldwin, Colton Jobke and Kyle Medvec. Goalies Darcy Kuemper and Johan Gustafsson also were assigned to Iowa.
Players placed on waivers with intent to send to Iowa: Forwards McMillan, Stephane Veilleux and Chad Rau; defensemen Jonathon Blum, Brian Connelly, Steven Kampfer and Jon Landry. Kurtis Gabriel also was assigned to Owen Sound of the OHL.
Mikael Grandlund is practicing today, but Mikko Koivu is not. We'll have an update later.
UPDATE: Koivu did not practice Tuesday because his fiancee is in labor. Wild coach Mike Yeo expects him in the lineup for Wednesday's preseason game against St. Louis. Granlund, who has what the Wild is calling a "slight upper-body injury,'' looked good in practice. Yeo said if Granlund is feeling fine, he will play Wednesday.
Other post-practice notes Tuesday:
--Yeo sounded doubtful that forward Mike Rupp (offseason knee surgery) will be ready to go when the season starts. "That's going to be a stretch,'' Yeo said. "He's feeling better. I'm not going to rule it out. But he's got to get some quality practice time in. He's got a lot of catching up to do.''
--The coach lauded Haula's speed, positioning and ability to read plays. But he said none of the players cut Tuesday were going to make the opening-night roster, so it was best to move them along. "The young kids, the prospects, they need to play,'' Yeo said. "So let's get them on their way and get them started.''
--Forward Justin Fontaine was happy to have a locker in the main room, squeezed in next to the stereo and the goalies. To keep it, Yeo said, he will have to put the puck in the net or create a chance for someone else to do the same. "He's going to have to be a guy who contributes offensively,'' Yeo said. "He's going to have to be a guy who's creating and making plays.'' Fontaine said the coaches want to see him refine the details of his game, particularly when it comes to following the Wild's systems.
--Defenseman Matt Dumba had a place in the main locker room, too: a temporary stall with a folding chair. He wasn't complaining. Yeo continued to laud Dumba for working his way out of a jam in Monday's 2-1 shootout victory over Columbus, when Dumba persevered after two lousy periods and righted himself in the third. "That was a big step for me,'' Dumba said. "I calmed myself down and found my game. ... That was huge for me.''
In other news, Ryan Suter was named to the NHL's First All-Star Team. He led the NHL in average ice time (27:16), playing over 30 minutes 10 times. He was second amongst defensemen in assists (28) and third in points (32).
The news comes a few days after his partner, Jonas Brodin, was named to the NHL's All-Rookie Team.
As you can see below, Alex Ovechkin made First and Second Team at different positions. First time this has ever happened and one reason why there was such a delay in the announcement.
2012-2013 NHL First All-Star Team
GP W L OT GAA SV% SO
G Sergei Bobrovsky, Columbus Blue Jackets 38 21 11 6 2.00 .932 4
GP Mins. G A Pts
D P.K. Subban, Montreal Canadiens 42 23:14 11 27 38
D Ryan Suter, Minnesota Wild 48 27:16 4 28 32
C Sidney Crosby, Pittsburgh Penguins 36 21:06 15 41 56
RW Alex Ovechkin, Washington Capitals 48 20:53 32 24 56
LW Chris Kunitz, Pittsburgh Penguins 48 18:01 22 30 52
2012-2013 NHL Second All-Star Team
GP W L OT GAA SV% SO
G Henrik Lundqvist, New York Rangers 43 24 16 3 2.05 .926 2
GP Mins. G A Pts
D Francois Beauchemin, Anaheim Ducks 48 23:27 6 18 24
D Kris Letang, Pittsburgh Penguins 35 25:38 5 33 38
C Jonathan Toews, Chicago Blackhawks 47 19:20 23 25 48
RW Martin St. Louis, Tampa Bay Lightning 48 21:59 17 43 60
LW Alex Ovechkin, Washington Capitals 48 20:53 32 24 56
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