Some days, Wild General Manager Bill Guerin is on the phone nonstop.
Other times are much quieter.
“It kind of depends on the day,” he said.
As the NHL focuses on how it can return during the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, Guerin’s priority is keeping players informed and making sure they’re staying in shape for a potential restart.
And whatever that looks like, Guerin hopes the Wild gets a chance to reignite a playoff push that was stalled when the league halted its season.
“We’ve put ourselves in a pretty good position to try to make the playoffs,” Guerin said Monday. “I just don’t want to lose that. I don’t want to give. I just want to make sure we maintain our position to be able to compete for one of those final spots.”
From an expanded playoff field to neutral-site games, more and more theories have emerged since the league halted play of how the NHL could get back on the ice.
The latest concept broached by Commissioner Gary Bettman last week in an interview with Sportsnet has teams descending on as many as four NHL arenas for three games per day. Bettman scrapped the neutral-site idea since the facilities wouldn’t have the infrastructure to support NHL demands, especially if multiple teams are concentrated in one venue.
Minnesota is reportedly being considered as a possible host.
“The decision ultimately will be made by medical people and people who are in governments at all different levels,” Bettman told Sportsnet. “So we’re not going to try and do anything that flies in the face of what we’re being told is appropriate.”
Still, as the brainstorming continues, it’s clear the NHL is working to salvage its season rather than cancel it at this point — even if it seems unlikely fans will be in attendance at the start.
For now, NHL players and staff are advised to self-quarantine through Thursday. This has been the league’s recommendation during the pause, which began March 12 with the Wild one point out of a playoff spot with 13 regular-season games remaining.
“I don’t know what’s going to be the right [way],” Guerin said. “I do know this: if we do get back to playing, it’s going to be under safe conditions. And if we do, I’ll just be happy to be playing again.”
Another possibility making the rounds is the NHL hosting its draft before the season ends.
Plenty of hurdles stand in the way, like finalizing the draft order without a completed season and figuring out what impact that has on the draft lottery. There’s also the issue of conditional draft picks, which affects the Wild; the team received a 2020 conditional first-round draft pick from the Penguins in the Jason Zucker trade that could turn into a 2021 first-rounder instead if Pittsburgh missed the playoffs this season.
Last month, the NHL postponed the scouting combine and draft — which was set for June 26 and 27 in Montreal. After seeing how the NFL’s virtual draft recently captivated the sports world, the NHL could decide to follow suit.
Regardless of what ends up happening, Guerin said the Wild will be prepared for any scenario.
“You’re not going to make everybody happy,” he said. “But whether the draft is tomorrow or two months from now, we’re going to be ready.”
• Guerin continues to stay in touch with prized prospect Kirill Kaprizov, whose contract in the Kontinental Hockey League expired after this season. The KHL canceled the rest of its season in late March, and Kaprizov is eligible to sign with the Wild starting Friday, Guerin said.
“We’ve been texting back and forth, here and there,” he said. “I feel good about it.”
• Defenseman Carson Soucy has healed the upper-body injury that sidelined him Feb. 21.
“When we get back,” Guerin said, “we’ll all be healthy and ready to roll.”