Jonas Brodin returned to practice Wednesday after missing three games because of a broken cheekbone, but the Wild defenseman might not play Friday against the Montreal Canadiens.

The Wild doesn’t want to rush Brodin back into the lineup unless the 20-year-old is fully comfortable, so Thursday’s practice will prove significant for Brodin. He was paired Wednesday with rookie Matt Dumba, who isn’t expected to play vs. Montreal.

“We have a lot of healthy defensemen and we want to make sure that when we get [Brodin] back, we get him back for good,” coach Mike Yeo said. “I don’t want to put him in a bad spot.”

Veteran defenseman Keith Ballard, who missed seven games because of a concussion, is expected to return Friday. He was paired to the right of Clayton Stoner on Wednesday.

“I had a concussion in the past where I missed 30-some games,” Ballard said. “Thankfully, this was only a couple. We were pretty cautious about covering all our bases and making sure I was feeling good on the recovery.”

When Brodin returns, he will wear a full face shield. He wasn’t fond of the college-style cage when he tried it on the ice last week.

“It’s easier to see the puck with the bubble,” Brodin said.

Brodin said getting hit by Gabriel Bourque’s dump-in Oct. 22 against Nashville was “pretty scary,” but he is confident he can play as the injury fully heals.

“It [was] a tough couple days the first days,” he said. “The pain was pretty, pretty, I’d say, pretty, yeah, painful. Now it’s good and the swelling is better. It felt good in practice.”

Dumba in limbo

The Wild hasn’t made a final decision as to whether Dumba stays with the Wild or returns to Red Deer of the Western Hockey League for the season. If Dumba, 19, plays in a 10th game, the first year of his three-year contract kicks. He is coming off a poor game in Saturday’s 5-1 loss to Chicago.

“If he played his best game, we were not going to overreact one way and, if he played his worst game, we were not going to overreact one way,” Yeo said. “We were just going to judge this as a whole and we’ll keep going day by day and see what happens.”


• With forward Charlie Coyle set to return Friday, left wing Stephane Veilleux was placed on waivers. If he clears Thursday, he will be reassigned to AHL Iowa.

• Yeo didn’t announce who will start in goal for the Wild on Friday. Josh Harding has given up eight goals in nine games, but Niklas Backstrom started the past two games because Harding had a strained hamstring. Backstrom has a 3.42 goals-against average and .871 save percentage in six appearances.