Alex Stalock's decision to sharpen his goaltending skills last year with the Iowa Wild paid off Wednesday when he won the Wild's backup goalie job behind Devan Dubnyk.
The Wild made it official by placing Stalock's chief competition — former Boston Bruin Niklas Svedberg — on waivers.
"They both had very good camps," Wild General Manager Chuck Fletcher said. "… Probably our familiarity with Al [Stalock], and the fact he put a year of hard duty last year in Iowa, that familiarity was probably the deciding factor."
Stalock, a South St. Paul native, posted a 2.28 goals-against average in 50 games for Iowa last season. With then-Wild backup Darcy Kuemper struggling in late March, the Wild gave Stalock a two-game look, and he allowed just three goals.
Finding a reliable backup has been a major priority for the Wild, as Dubnyk wore down from overuse late last season. Dubnyk tied for third among NHL goaltenders with 65 games played last season.
Stalock, 30, spent three seasons as San Jose's backup goalie earlier in his career. He said he has no specific goal for a number of games he hopes to play.
"I want to play as many games as I can," he said. "I want to win as many games as I can, is what I should say. … Whether it's 10, whether it's 30 games, whether it's 40 — whatever happens."
Fletcher said he hopes Svedberg clears waivers and can head to Iowa "and be ready for us if we need him.
"As we've seen over the years, we often need more than two goaltenders to get through a season."
Dumba tweaks ankle
Wild defenseman Matt Dumba "tweaked an ankle" in Tuesday's exhibition loss at Dallas, Fletcher said. Dumba did not practice Wednesday and is not in the team's projected lineup for Thursday's game against St. Louis.
"It doesn't seem serious," Fletcher said. "But every time we play these games and we have somebody that gets a little banged up it's frustrating. We have been relatively unscathed so far. We just have to keep pushing and hopefully stay healthy and I think the roster will take care of itself.
Roster cut to 26
Besides Svedberg, the Wild trimmed eight other players from their roster, cutting down to 26.
The Wild assigned forwards Kyle Rau and Christoph Bertschy to Iowa of the American Hockey League. Rau, a former Gophers captain, played for Florida last season. He and Bertschy did not require waivers to be assigned to the Wild's Des Moines farm team.
They also put defenseman Alex Grant, and forwards Pat Cannone, Landon Ferraro, Kurtis Gabriel, Zack Mitchell and Cal O'Reilly on waivers. If they clear, they also will be assigned to Iowa.