Tyler Graovac paid the price for the Wild being unhappy with the play of the fourth line of late. The Wild center was placed on waivers Monday. If Graovac clears at 11 a.m. Tuesday, he’ll be assigned to AHL Iowa.
“It’s a gamble,” coach Bruce Boudreau said. “He may get picked up [by another team], but if he doesn’t, then hopefully he goes down and finds his game because there are some games that he’s played very good for us.”
One reason Graovac was placed on waivers is because Boudreau wants to continue playing Charlie Coyle at center. That pushes Erik Haula to fourth-line center.
But General Manager Chuck Fletcher made it abundantly clear that the play of fourth liners Chris Stewart, Graovac and Jordan Schroeder has not been up to snuff. In fact, Zack Mitchell was recalled with Alex Tuch from Iowa on Monday, and there’s a chance Mitchell replaces Schroeder in the lineup Tuesday against Anaheim while Tuch plays on a line with Nino Niederreiter and Eric Staal.
“A fourth line like that, they can’t play the way that they have been playing,” Fletcher said. “They have to win more battles and turn fewer pucks over. That’s not a recipe for success. It’s not all Graovac certainly. I think all three of them have slipped in the last couple weeks and we have to try to get a better recipe for what we want to do with that line.”
Graovac, 23, has scored six goals in 45 games, and at 6-5 with the ability to skate, he is the type of player who gets claimed this time of year. Several teams are looking for centermen in advance of the March 1 trade deadline.
But Boudreau said come playoff time, he needs to feel comfortable throwing a fourth line on the ice, especially on the road, against opposing teams’ top lines.
“I have to have the confidence that they can play,” he said. “And right now, faceoffs in our zone, they’ve struggled with that.”
Jason Pominville, who has 17 points in 12 games since taking injured Jonas Brodin’s spot on the No. 2 power play, was named the NHL’s No. 1 Star of the Week after amassing six assists and eight points in four games.
“It’s fun to get recognition,” Pominville said. “It’s been a fun year. We’re winning games, it’s easier to come to the rink and keep a positive attitude and work hard. That’s what I try to do. Things have been going a little bit better point-wise, goal-wise, so it’s been nice.”
Detroit Red Wings forward Gustav Nyquist waived his right to an in-person hearing with the NHL for spearing Wild defenseman Jared Spurgeon in the face on Sunday. Nyquist will have a phone hearing Wednesday afternoon.
In-person hearings allow the league the right to suspend a player at least six games.
“The league saw what they saw, and I think they’ll make the right call,” Boudreau said.
The Wild was informed by the league Monday that the officials erred in not assessing Nyquist a major penalty and game misconduct. He received a double minor.