edited sunday morning with Larsson's name. Also, I'll be on 1500 ESPN at 10:40 a.m.
Good evening from the Twin Cities, where I just came from the Gophers' 5-4 victory over UMass. Wild draft pick Erik Haula assisted on three of Jay Barriball's first-period goals (natural hat trick for the Blues draft pick). The Minutemen made it a game, cutting it to one twice, but UM pulled it out.
For Haula, a freshman from Finland, he's got four assists in his first two games of his college career. Very skilled, smart, great snap shot.
Wild rookie Casey Wellman planned to attend the game to see his alma mater and reunite with coach Don Cahoon and some teammates. But Wellman was reassigned today to AHL Houston along with goalie Anton Khudobin, left wing Matt Kassian and defenseman Drew Bagnall.
This leaves the Wild with 21 players -- 20 healthy players if defenseman Marek Zidlicky's groin doesn't heal by Thursday's opener. I think with the Wild more than $1 million from the salary-cap ceiling, we're going to see a lot of roster shuffling this season, especially with kids like Wellman that don't require waivers to get to and from Houston and especially when there's several days between games.
The theory is, why have extra guys eating up salary-cap space if there's no games or they're not playing? As for Wellman, he's not going to be sticking on the Wild if he's only going to be getting nine shifts like he did Friday or scratched like he was Thursday. I think he could help, personally, but the Wild wants him to play and play a lot -- in key situations.
So we'll see him again. This isn't permanent. Time will tell how long he'll be down there.
What else? Derek Stepan, who hails from our great state, notched a hat trick in his NHL debut tonight for the New York Rangers. Not sure if it's the last guy, but I remember Fabian Brunnstrom did that for the Dallas Stars two years ago.
By the way, GM Chuck Fletcher told me tonight that 2010 Wild second-round pick Johan Larsson scored three goals and an assist in a junior game today in Sweden.
Speaking of Wild prospects, the Houston Aeros got off to a season-opening 6-1 victory tonight in Oklahoma City. Petr Kalus scored two goals and an assist and Joel Broda scored twice in Aeros coach Mike Yeo's head-coaching debut.
Matt Hackett made 30 saves, Jean-Michel Daoust had two assists and Jon DiSalvatore scored a goal and an assist. Colton Gillies also scored a first-period goal. None of the guys reassigned today played in the game.
OK, barring news, no blog Sunday and Kent will be on Monday.