It's not often that someone leaves Florida to come to Minnesota in February and proclaims "it will be nice to see some snow.'' The Wild's newly acquired forward, Sean Bergenheim, said in a conference call Wednesday that he won't be bothered by the cold, because he's from Finland. He also thinks those roots will help him adapt quickly to his new team, which is populated by friends from his home country including Mikko Koivu and Mikael Granlund.
Bergenheim, 31, traveled on Wednesday from Florida to Nashville, where he will join the Wild for Thursday's game against the Predators. He is looking to hit the reset button on a season that went sour in Florida. He has been a healthy scratch recently but said he is happy with how he's played when he's been in the lineup. Bergenheim had eight goals and 10 assists in 39 games for the Panthers, averaging 14 minutes, nine seconds of ice time per game.
Though he said he doesn't "have any issues'' with anyone in the Panthers organization, Bergenheim noted that he had not been a healthy scratch until he recently asked to be traded. He feels he has plenty to add to a Wild roster scrambling to make the playoffs.
"I think one of my strengths is I'm a pretty versatile player,'' said Bergenheim, who said he won't know until Thursday morning whether he will play against the Predators. "I feel I can help in different situations and play in different roles. I want to do whatever I can.
"I think there's something I can give to this team. I want to bring energy, I want to bring forechecking, I want to bring pressure in the offensive zone. I want to get the pucks to the net, get myself to the net, and hopefully score some goals for this team.''
Bergenheim said he talked Wednesday with Wild coach Mike Yeo, but he doesn't have a sense yet of what his role might be. He also is unfamiliar with his new team's systems; having spent his entire NHL career in the Eastern Conference, he hasn't seen much of the Wild.
Though midseason trades are tough, he said his friendships with Koivu and Granlund will help him adjust. Bergenheim knows Koivu well from their junior days, when they played together on Finland's national team and faced off against each other as well. He has trained with Granlund in the summer, and he also knows Wild goalie Niklas Backstrom.
Bergenheim is in the last year of his contract, but he said he doesn't feel any pressure. "I'm pretty happy with how I've played this season in the role I've been given,'' he said. "But I know also there's a lot more energy in me to play a better role. Whatever the role is, there's a lot of energy.
"Whether it's my last or first or second or third year of my contract, it doesn’t really matter. I just try to do the best I can every time I'm out there. Right now, I just want to play for the Wild, and I really want to play in the playoffs and have some fun there.''
About those playoffs: Bergenheim has a penchant for coming up big in postseason play, with 12 goals and five assists in 23 NHL playoff games for Tampa Bay and Florida.
Many of the Wild's top players took Wednesday morning off as the team held an optional practice at Ridder Arena, run by the assistant coaches, before heading to Nashville Wednesday afternoon.