Veteran NHL forward Drew Stafford was released from his professional tryout on Friday morning as the Wild reduced its roster to 26 players.

Bubble forwards Gerald Mayhew and Nico Sturm (pictured) were assigned to Iowa of the AHL.

Mayhew was the leading goal-scoring leader in Iowa last season with 27, and had a shootout goal Sunday in Colorado.

Stafford was brought in as an experienced veteran. While winger Kevin Fiala was awaiting a work visa, Stafford worked with winger Jason Zucker and center Eric Staal. But once Fiala joined practice this week, Stafford slid down the depth chart to the fifth line.

Sturm turned pro in the spring out of college and was expected to push for a roster spot. He scored in his first game of the preseason in a 4-1 loss to the Jets on Sept. 18 and added an assist last Saturday in the 4-3 win over the Avalanche; he also was used on the penalty kill.

The Wild decided he'd be better off getting more playing time in the minors.

“That’s going to be part of my ice time that I will get in the NHL is up the middle on the third and fourth line and play on the penalty kill,” Sturm said this week. “If I only play 11 or 12 minutes every night, it’s gotta be the 12 hardest minutes on the team. So that’s just what I try to focus on.”

The Wild roster is here.

Nico Sturm photo by Canadian Press.

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