Wild players report to training camp Thursday for physicals and the annual Media Day. Bruce Boudreau's first chance to get his hands on the team on the ice comes Friday.
On that day, Zach Parise and Ryan Suter will return to Minnesota from Toronto, and most likely, so will Mikko Koivu, Mikael Granlund and Erik Haula.
Parise, Suter and the United States World Cup of Hockey team were effectively eliminated Tuesday night with their 4-2 loss to Canada in the second game of round robin competition. The Americans only has a meaningless, "don't get hurt!!!" game to play Thursday against the Czech Republic.
No matter the outcome, the United States won't advance to a single-elimination semifinal. Just a total disappointment. For a team built to beat Canada, they couldn't even beat Canada, let alone Team Europe.
As for Finland, the Koivu-captained team needs a miracle to advance. Finland, which lost to Sweden earlier Tuesday, is 0-2 in round robin play. The only way it can advance is by beating Russia on Thursday, by Sweden beating Team North America and by Finland, Russia and North America all having two points, then moving to a goal differential tiebreaker. The problem there? Finland is minus-5, Russia is even and North America is plus-2, so .... yah.
What does this mean?
Months of asking Boudreau about what it'll be like to potentially have six guys missing from the start of his first camp wasn't necessary. As we all figured, only (likely) Nino Niederreiter could potentially be really late. Team Europe will advance to a semifinal game this weekend.
Parise and Suter definitely and most likely the three Finns will be back by Friday. Boudreau has indicated that the players returning from the World Cup will be given a couple days off to rest, so those five likely will be at practice by Sunday or Monday.
As Boudreau said to me Monday, "I don’t know when we’re getting those other guys back, but it might be sooner than later, ... like a lot quicker than anyone thought."