Ryan Suter, the Wild's 36-year-old alternate captain, got a look at his defensive partner for Tuesday night's game at Los Angeles and gave the youngster some advice.
"I told him he needs to get a haircut if he wants to be my partner,'' Suter said, joking about Calen Addison.
The 20-year-old with the curly, shoulder-length brown mullet, plus a wisp of a mustache, would fit right in on the state tournament All-Hockey Hair Team.
It's business in the front, not party in the back, that has Addison making his NHL debut against the Kings at Staples Center.
The Wild hasn't played since Feb. 2 because of an outbreak of COVID-19 that swept through the team, with 13 players at one point in the NHL's virus protocol. The team has been slowly getting players back, but the blue line especially was hit hard. Jonas Brodin, Brad Hunt and Carson Soucy remain in protocol. Ian Cole came off the list Monday but isn't expected to play Tuesday. Captain Jared Spurgeon also is out because of an upper-body injury.
Joining Addison among defensemen in the lineup will be a trio who normally would be either on the taxi squad or in Iowa of the AHL. Matt Bartkowski is a journeyman who's played 255 NHL games but only two for the Wild; Dakota Mermis has 20 career NHL games, none with the Wild, and Louie Belpedio has three NHL games, all with the Wild.
The task might appear tall for the patchwork defensive corps, but coach Dean Evason doesn't see it that way.
"Go out there and seize the moment,'' Evason said. "Play your game. They're all pro hockey players. They've all played games here, except for Addie. Do what you do.''
Addison, acquired last February from Pittsburgh in the Jason Zucker trade, is excited for the challenge.
"This is really a lifelong dream come true,'' said Addison, the Penguins' second-round draft pick (53rd overall) in 2018. "I've waited almost 21 years for this, and any hockey player growing up wants to play in the NHL. Just for that to come true and that to be happening tomorrow is something special. I'm just thankful that they believe in me enough to put me in the lineup and give me that chance.''
Addison brings an offensive approach to the game. He has three assists in three games for Iowa this season, and he amassed 10 goals and 42 assists in 50 games for Lethbridge of the WHL last season.
The 5-11, 180-pound right shot had a goal and eight assists in seven games in helping Canada win the 2020 World Junior Championship.
Suter has been impressed with Addison since he got the call Thursday to drive north from Des Moines to join the big club.
"He's got all the tools a player would need," Suter said. "It's going to be tough, but there's no better way to make your debut than have the deck stacked against you."
Wild center Nick Bjugstad played with Addison during Penguins training camp in the past and came away sold.
"He caught my eye,'' Bjugstad said. "He'll wow you in a lot of different areas with his skill. He works hard, too."
Addison plans to heed the advice given by Evason, who said, "He doesn't have to do too much. He doesn't have to be Jared Spurgeon out there; he has to be Calen Addison."
"I don't need to overdo anything or do anything special," Addison said. "I just need to make the right play, make a good first pass, join in offensively when I need to, and just be safe in all three areas of the ice."
And if he plays that efficient game with a little flair from the hair, all the better.
"I don't put too much thought into it," Addison said of his look. "It just kind of happened. I've always had longer, curly hair, so I've just been rocking it. And I had to go with the mustache."