The kitchen knife that was supposed to sink into a sweet potato went the wrong direction, and so did the start of center Victor Rask’s season with the Hurricanes.
After cutting two fingers on his right hand before training camp, Rask required surgery to fix them and was sidelined until late November.
“Bizarre accident,” he said. “But it happens.”
And then once he did return, it was a challenge for him to gain traction on the ice. His minutes began to taper off, and after 26 games with Carolina, he had just one goal and five assists.
“Obviously, you get a little bit frustrated,” Rask said. “You want to always be out there and help the team and play a lot.”
But now that he’s been gifted a change in scenery via a trade to the Wild that sent winger Nino Niederreiter the other way, Rask is eager for the fresh start.
“It’s going to be fun to get started here,” he said. “I’ve only heard good things about this organization and the fans, so it’s going to be a lot of fun.”
Rask made his Wild debut Saturday night against the Blue Jackets at Xcel Energy Center, only two days after he was acquired.
He started on a line with wingers Zach Parise and Pontus Aberg, with the team hoping to capitalize on the familiarity Rask and Aberg have from playing together in the past on Swedish national teams.
“He’s a good two-way player,” Wild coach Bruce Boudreau said. “Smart hockey player. Good distributor. Sneaky shot.”
While he’s had a drop-off in production this season after a late start, Rask followed up a career-best 21 goals in 2015-16 with 16- and 14-goal campaigns — effectiveness he’s sure he can recapture with the Wild.
“I was shooting the puck a lot,” said Rask, who could sense before the trade his time with Carolina might be nearing an end. “I was obviously playing with good players, as well. I think looking back at those years, [I was] just playing with a lot of confidence and playing with a lot of speed and putting pucks on net.”
Back to wing
With Rask’s arrival, Charlie Coyle shifted from center to right wing since captain Mikko Koivu and Eric Staal are locked in up the middle and the Wild is trying to groom Joel Eriksson Ek to be a future top-nine fixture.
Coyle started with Staal and rookie Jordan Green-way.
“He’s had his moments on the wing, too,” Boudreau said of Coyle. “Playing with Eric, who likes playing with him, hopefully it works out.”
Aside from tweaking its forward group, the Wild also made a change on defense.
Louie Belpedio made his season debut Saturday after getting recalled from the American Hockey League on Friday, an addition that gives the team seven defensemen and pushes it to the 23-man roster limit.
Nate Prosser was the odd man out.
“We needed a guy a with a little bit more offensive jump,” Boudreau said, “and Louie is supposedly that kind of player.”
In 40 games with Iowa this season, Belpedio racked up 10 points (three goals) while ranking first among defensemen in shots with 80. In his only Wild game last season, April 7 against the Sharks, he became the first rookie in franchise history to record two points (both assists) in his debut.
“It was a lot of fun,” Belpedio recalled. “I don’t think I could do that again if I tried. It was exciting, and the guys were really welcoming last year, and they’ve been welcoming this year. So it’s been awesome.”
Prepared to play
Goalie Devan Dubnyk had what was supposed to be a night off cut short Thursday when he replaced backup Alex Stalock only 7 minutes, 58 seconds into the 3-0 loss to the Ducks, but Dubnyk said he isn’t tired and continues to prepare as if he’s playing every single game.
“I certainly didn’t feel like I needed any rest,” he said. “Al played great the game before [in a 3-2 shootout win over the Kings], and he deserved another start. Unfortunately, we weren’t able to come out for the start of the game for him.”