Quick blog from Xcel Energy Center, where the Wild is having its final informal skate before training camp opens Thursday.
I got a chance to catch up quickly with assistant GM Brent Flahr regarding the Wild’s less-than-stellar showing at the annual eight-team Traverse City prospect tournament, a tournament that was won by Columbus for the second year in a row.
The Wild, after an initial 5-2 win over the Rangers, lost three consecutive games, allowing 22 goals in those three games.
“If you look at the rosters, Dallas had three first-rounders, six second-rounders and it was similar with the other teams,” Flahr said. “Us, we had [Gustav] Olofsson as a second-rounder, no first-rounders.
“Same time, it was disappointing the way we finished at the end. Last game was kind of sloppy on both sides. Overall, some good performances. But we didn’t have the depth as some teams. That’s what happens when you draft college kids and Europeans. We had one player from last year’s draft – a seventh-rounder -- and a couple from the year before and we unraveled a couple times in the second half of games.”
Flahr said Olofsson (0 points, minus-4) “had a really strong tournament from start to finish.” Mike Reilly (5 assists, minus-2), Flahr said, was dynamic offensively. He said Gustav Bouramman (2 assists, minus-3) was solid, as was Christoph Bertschy (1 goal, 3 assists, minus-1). He said Zack Mitchell (2 goals, 1 assists, even, 11 shots) was good at times. Iowa coach John Torchetti also raved about Olofsson and Reilly.
Flahr said it hurt that the Wild lost two centers. Grayson Downing, a free agent signee in the spring from the University of New Hampshire, sustained a lower-body injury, will have an MRI on Thursday and will likely miss the start of camp. Invitee Sam Warning, a free agent from the University of Minnesota, broke his hand. The Wild will look after him, but depending on how long he’s out will determine if the Wild signs him to an AHL deal or not.
Flahr liked free agent Jack Walker (2 goals) and invited him to main camp. In fact, all but three players will report to main camp.
The main concern has to be goaltending. As of now, the Wild has two goalies signed that would play in Iowa unless it signs somebody else. Brody Hoffman (1 win, 4.50 GAA, .845 SV%) and Stephen Michalek (.703 GAA, .767 SV%) both struggled in Traverse City. In the last game with Michalek in net, he allowed seven goals on the first 22 shots.
Unless Niklas Backstrom is willing to go to the minors maybe to up his trade value, the Wild will either go with Hoffman or Michalek or sign or acquire somebody for Iowa.
Leland Irving, a 2006 first-rounder by the Flames, is coming to camp on a tryout and Flahr indicated the Wild will sign another goalie to a pro tryout today.
carry get too carried away,” Flahr said of the goaltending. “We had half a practice before four games in five days. Pretty sloppy hockey. Still, you give up that many goals, it’s not terrific. Same time, we don’t evaluate goalies too much this time of year.
“It’s early. We’ll have competition in camp for Iowa. We have two young guys who are trying to figure it out. We have to make sure they’re surrounded and insulated if they need it. If they’re ready to run with it, they’ll run with it.”
I’ll update the blog later with the updated training camp roster.