Wild defenseman Gustav Olofsson was nearly in disbelief.
Just days into his audition at training camp for a depth spot on defense, he suffered a shoulder injury when he got hit by Jets star Patrik Laine in the third period of his first preseason game Sept. 17 — this after two shoulder surgeries and a knee injury slowed him down in recent years.
“It almost didn’t set in until a little while after,” Olofsson said.
Although he was sidelined for the rest of the Wild’s preseason schedule, Olofsson has resumed skating and isn’t letting this setback change his objective of sticking on the roster.
“It’s definitely my goal,” he said. “I think it depends on [a] numbers game and how guys perform. But I’ll be ready. I’ll set myself up for every opportunity that we have. I just want to help the team win whenever that presents itself.”
Before camp started, Olofsson met with coach Bruce Boudreau twice, explaining how eager he was and the improvements he wanted to make after being in and out of the lineup last season. The 2013 second-round pick ended up playing 41 games, chipping in eight assists.
“You gotta know how to handle yourself in the locker room if you’re not playing,” Olofsson said. “You gotta have a good attitude at all times being a pro. There’s gotta be good communication there, and … I sometimes need to get in a conversation about what I need to do to get better — with coaches, players, all that stuff. Just this year, my mind-set was don’t be afraid to speak up, talk, be involved in the locker room while you’re playing or not because it goes a long way.”
Olofsson is still healing and while he’s encouraged by his conditioning, he doesn’t have a timeline for a return even though he’s detected progress so far.
Rosters need to be at or below the 23-man limit by Tuesday, and Olofsson would need to be cleared medically before being assigned to the American Hockey League if the Wild doesn’t keep him in the NHL; he could be shifted to injured reserve if he’s not healthy.
To be able to report to Iowa, though, Olofsson would have to clear waivers first.
“We wish he didn’t have an injury that prevented him from playing six other games because we probably would have played him in six out of the seven games just to make sure,” Boudreau said. “But right now, he’s still not available to play even though he’s practicing and very close. But training camp has a finality to it. … I don’t know what management has planned for him quite frankly because he’s on a one-way contract and he has to clear waivers. So I have no idea at this point.”
Since getting hurt, Olofsson has tried to remain positive.
And when he does get a chance to get back in a game, he wants to apply those lessons he learned from the previous season.
“I’m ready for it when the time comes again,” Olofsson said, “and it’ll be exciting.”
Wild drops finale
The Wild lost its preseason finale 4-3 at Colorado on Mikko Rantanen’s power-play goal 1:29 into overtime. Jason Zucker’s shorthanded goal tied it for the Wild with 1:02 left in regulation. Mikael Granlund and Nino Niederreiter also scored, and Alex Stalock and Andrew Hammond split time in goal. It sounds like the team will wait awhile to make the next round of cuts.
After a day off the ice Saturday, the Wild will practice Sunday before taking another break Monday.
“Our thought process is they’re going to be part of this team, and we want them to feel part of this team,” Boudreau said of the extra players. “So they’ll be here ’til Monday.”
• Forwards Charlie Coyle, Joel Eriksson Ek and Marcus Foligno played six of the team’s seven preseason games — the most on the Wild. “I’ve always been of the opinion that bigger-bodied guys need more time to get ready,” Boudreau said.
• Forward Luke Kunin, who’s recovering from a torn ACL, likely will report to the AHL.