The Wild reassigned center Erik Haula to American Hockey League Iowa on Monday, a roster move that was expected to be followed Tuesday by the re-emergence of winger Jason Zucker from the minor league team.
The moves come on the heels of coach Mike Yeo saying after Sunday’s 3-1 victory over San Jose that he needs more from the Nino Niederreiter-Charlie Coyle-Dany Heatley second line. Yeo went on to say the line was turning over too many pucks in the neutral zone, so it’ll be interesting to see how Yeo reshuffles that second line during Tuesday afternoon’s practice in Anaheim, Calif.
Heatley has been the biggest culprit in the turnover department, committing a couple Sunday that nearly proved costly. This came one day after Yeo met with Heatley about high-risk plays in the neutral zone and at the offensive blue line.
“He’s a goal scorer at heart, and that’s part of what’s made him successful, but at the same time, when you’re focused on that, you can lose sight of some of the things you need to do to be effective,” Yeo said after Saturday’s practice. “Even talking to him [Saturday], I told him the strength of his game lately was playing in the offensive zone, below the top of the circles and around the net and ‘you’re just hurting yourself. The more turnovers, the more time you’re in the defensive zone.’ ”
After another game of turnovers since that conversation, it wouldn’t be surprising if Zucker replaces Heatley on the second line. With the Matt Cooke-Kyle Brodziak-Torrey Mitchell line playing well since being reunited 10 days ago at Colorado, Heatley might wind up back on the fourth line, where he spent a good part of November.
Zucker has no points in six games this season, but Yeo was happy with Zucker’s game when he was reassigned Dec. 1. The Wild was at the maximum 23-man roster, so he had to be sent back to Iowa. Haula stayed because the Wild needed a center with both Mikael Granlund and Zenon Konopka hurt.
The Wild took Monday off. The team was scheduled to depart for Anaheim on Tuesday morning.
Yeo said he felt Monday’s day off would be good for the team.
“I thought we looked tired” against San Jose, Yeo said after being outshot 38-13 in Sunday’s win. “I thought there were a lot of times we were getting caught from behind. I thought we didn’t have a lot of jump, a lot of speed coming through the neutral zone when we had ice in front of us.
“We’ve got to use these next couple days to put some gas in the tank.”
With his season-high 37-save effort Sunday, Josh Harding improved to 13-1 at home.
He’s the only goalie in Wild or North Stars history to win 13 of his first 14 home decisions in a season, according to the Elias Sports Bureau.
“He was really good again,” teammate Zach Parise said. “It’s been a common theme throughout this season.”
Isles waive Bouchard
Pierre-Marc Bouchard, the third-leading scorer in Wild history, was placed on waivers by the struggling New York Islanders on Monday.
Bouchard, who has nine points in 28 games, will be assigned to AHL Bridgeport if he clears Tuesday. Bouchard, 29, has not played a minor league game since the 2004-05 NHL lockout.
The Islanders entered Monday’s game in Anaheim on a nine-game winless streak and a nine-game road losing streak since Nov. 1. They needed a roster spot to recall 2011 first-round pick Ryan Strome, the AHL leading scorer who was named the AHL’s Player of the Week for the second consecutive week Monday.
Bouchard signed a one-year, $2 million deal with the Islanders in July.
• Wild owner Craig Leipold and General Manager Chuck Fletcher flew to Pebble Beach, Calif., for the NHL Board of Governors meeting Monday.
• Teams were informed that the salary cap would rise to $71 million next season.