It wasn’t hard to pick out Mikael Granlund from the rest of his Wild teammates during Sunday’s practice at Xcel Energy Center. He was the guy wearing the bright yellow no-contact jersey — and the permanent smile.
The center practiced for the first time since he broke his left wrist Dec. 27 against Winnipeg. Granlund had surgery two days later and has missed 11 games. Wild coach Mike Yeo said Granlund won’t play Monday against Columbus, but he could be ready for Tuesday night’s game at Detroit.
“I felt good out there,’’ said Granlund, who has four goals and 11 assists this season. “I’m really excited to get back out there.’’
Granlund has been skating since shortly after his surgery, and both he and Yeo said fitness is not an issue.
The Wild returned forward Jordan Schroeder and defenseman Jonathon Blum to its AHL affiliate in Iowa on Sunday. Defenseman Matt Dumba remains with the team, and Yeo has been pleased to see him paring down the mistakes in his game.
Dumba was recalled on Jan. 14 and has played in both games since then. Against Buffalo, he scored a goal, delivered three hits and was plus-3, and he played a solid game against Arizona. Yeo said while Dumba is known for making flashy plays, the rookie must continue to solidify the basics.
“It’s the little plays,’’ Yeo said. “It’s the defensive plays. It’s not putting himself in a position where he’s getting caught or forcing someone else into a bad position. He’s done that very well the last couple games.’’
The Wild’s defensive corps got one important member back on Saturday, and another will return Monday. Marco Scandella played in a 3-1 victory over Arizona after missing five games because of a concussion. Ryan Suter, who was suspended for the past two games, is eligible to play against Columbus.
At Sunday’s practice, Suter was paired with Jonas Brodin, Scandella was with Christian Folin and Jared Spurgeon was with Dumba. Justin Falk, who is on injured reserve because of an upper-body injury, also practiced Sunday and was teamed with Nate Prosser.
Yeo lauded the Wild’s team defense and its play around the net in the past two games. With better performances from all defensemen, he said, those combinations will be fluid.
“We’re trying to find the right mix,’’ Yeo said. “The way our D is set up right now, there will be different guys playing with different partners through the course of a game. To be able to distribute the minutes and make sure we’ve got fresh guys on the ice against quality people, that’s a huge plus for us.’’