Marco Scandella will miss three to four weeks because of a sprained medial collateral ligament in his right knee.
That is good news for the Wild, which feared a serious knee injury when the defenseman was injured Tuesday against Tampa Bay. With the 20-day Olympic break after Thursday’s game against Nashville, the hope is Scandella can return once the Wild’s season resumes Feb. 27 or soon after.
“If you’re going to do it, now’s the time to do it,” coach Mike Yeo said. “We’ll have to make sure we stay on top of it. He’s had a really strong season for us. Coming out of that break, we’re going to need him.”
In Wednesday’s practice, left-shot defenseman Jonas Brodin took Scandella’s spot on the second defense pair with Nate Prosser. Right-shot Jared Spurgeon took Brodin’s spot on the right side of the top pair with Ryan Suter. Lefties Clayton Stoner and Keith Ballard, partners for much of this season, were on the third pair.
Koivu in limbo
Mikko Koivu’s third Olympic appearance for Finland continues to be in jeopardy.
“Not only is he not cleared to play right now, he’s not even cleared to practice with the team,” General Manager Chuck Fletcher said of the Wild captain, who had ankle surgery Jan. 6.
“There’s a lot of healing and work that needs to be done to get him to that position. If we can get him there, great, but I think people need to understand how hard he’s working to get healthy and come back. But … your body’s only going to heal the way it’s going to heal. He’s skating on his own, but it’s a long way from skating on your own to playing in a high-end international Olympic game.”
Tampa Bay’s Steven Stamkos, expected to be a key player for Team Canada, was ruled out for the Olympics even though he had been practicing after recovering from a broken tibia in his right leg.
Fletcher isn’t prepared yet to rule Koivu out for the Olympics, but said: “It’s not like this is just going to turn here in the next day or two. … If he’s ready, great, but I don’t want to be gambling with his health, nor does Mikko.”
Finland opens the Olympics next Thursday. Whether he plays in Sochi, the Wild believes Koivu will be ready to return to its lineup Feb. 27.
• Left winger Stephane Veilleux was placed on waivers for the purpose of assigning him to Iowa of the AHL for the Olympic break. Goalie Darcy Kuemper will not be assigned to Iowa during the Olympics, while Jason Zucker also might stay on Minnesota’s roster.
• The Wild made a minor league trade, sending Chad Rau to San Jose for forward Curt Gogol. Rau, 27, played 299 games for Houston and Iowa and scored two goals in nine games with the Wild in 2012. Gogol, 22, has four points and 149 penalty minutes in 40 games for Worcester this season. Rau is the brother of Gophers co-captain Kyle Rau.