Luke Kunin will make his NHL debut on Saturday in the Wild's home opener against Columbus. He was recalled Friday from Iowa of the American Hockey League. Defenseman Mike Reilly was sent to Des Moines.
Kunin (above) was the team's top draft pick (15th overall) in 2016. He was captain of the gold medal winning U.S. team in the world junior championships last winter, and played two seasons at Wisconsin before signing with the Wild after last season.
Already playing without injured forwards Zach Parise and Mikael Granlund, the Wild lost three more forwards in Thursday night's win at Chicago. Both Nino Niederreiter and Charlie Coyle suffered leg injuries, and Marcus Foligno was injured in a fight. A team spokesman said Friday there won't be any injury updates likely until Saturday's morning skate ahead of the game
Kunin, 19, had a goal and an assist in two games at Iowa. His AHL teammates Christoph Bertschy, Landon Ferraro and Zack Mitchell were called up after Iowa's game Friday night.
Reilly was sent down to clear salary cap space because he did not have to be put through waivers. He has played in the Wild's three games and has two assists. Gustav Olofsson, the Wild's seventh defenseman, would have to clear waivers to be sent to Iowa.
The Wild held a "very" optional practice Friday at St. Thomas Academy, with only four players -- Zach Parise, Olofsson, Joel Eriksson Ek and Alex Stalock -- on the ice working with the assistant coaches.
Parise, who is not officially cleared to play yet, joked around that after Thursday's injury hit, he might have to speed up his comeback in time for Saturday.
"I don’t know yet," he said in response to for sure not playing in the home opener. "I know things changed after last night."
Parise added he hoped he would be ready for next week's games, Oct. 20 and 21 at Winnipeg and Calgary.
"I've never wanted to put a timetable on anything," Parise said. "But you know, when they say I can play, I'll be playing. I just kind of go by that."
Parise continued to drop some hints and cast some doubts about a speedy recovery in time for the home opening activities with this:
"If it doesn’t happen, it'll be pretty disappointing," Parise said. "The opening night is always a lot of fun. There’s a lot of excitement in the building, and it’s a really fun game to play in. So I'm hoping I'll be there. If not, I'll be watching. But it'll be disappointing if it doesn’t happen."