Friday morning was kind to Tyler Graovac.
The only text message he received from the Wild was what time to show up for practice, not what time his Town Car was leaving for Des Moines. He walked into the locker room and his nameplate still appeared on a stall between Mikael Granlund and Jason Pominville.
And on the ice, Graovac was one of 11 forwards, and in his recent spot between Thomas Vanek and Charlie Coyle.
Opening night rosters don't have to be submitted to NHL Central Registry until 4 p.m. Tuesday, but do the math and connect the dots, Graovac seems a shoo-in to be in Thursday's lineup in Colorado.
"Good sign, good feeling, a little confidence boost, but … the hard work's just beginning," said Graovac, an enticing 6-4 center with wheels and skill who has just gotten better throughout training camp. "This is very exciting for me. I'm just kind of enjoying the moment, but like I've said, I can't be comfortable here."
Coinciding with the waiver claim of winger Chris Porter, who practiced for the first time Friday, the Wild trimmed its roster to 25 players, two more than the maximum. Right winger Brett Bulmer and defenseman Tyson Strachan were placed on waivers. If they fly through Saturday, they'll be assigned to Iowa of the American Hockey League. Center Zac Dalpe also was returned to Iowa.
Mike Reilly remains on the roster as one of eight defensemen. But like Graovac, he can't get too comfortable.
As a first-year pro and not yet among the Wild's top six defensemen, there's likely only so much time the Wild would feel comfortable with Reilly "learning and watching and practicing" (General Manager Chuck Fletcher's words) without playing.
"I don't know where it's going to go from here," Reilly said. "Really, for me, I'm like other guys. It's a day by day process for me. That's the way I'm approaching each day. It could be my last day of being here, so just keep going and hopefully it all works out."
The Wild, expected to carry three goalies to start the season, technically needs to make two more roster moves. But Justin Fontaine is expected to start the season on injured reserve because of an oblique injury. That would put the roster at 24.
Center Erik Haula, who has a groin injury, and right wing Jordan Schroeder, who has an upper-body injury, also didn't practice Friday. If one of them opened the season on I.R., the Wild's opening night roster theoretically may be set.
The Wild will take Saturday off, so it'll be determined Sunday if Haula and Schroeder can practice.
"What we do for Game 1 might be radically different than what we do for Games 3 and 4 and 5 when we're out west," Fletcher said Thursday night.
Coach Mike Yeo was unavailable for comment Friday on the Wild's roster decisions, but Fletcher insinuated Thursday night that Reilly would stay at least temporarily and that the Wild was willing to risk waivers on Bulmer, a 2010 second-round pick who worked hard this offseason to get back on the Wild's radar after a disappointing start to his pro career.
"You've got to make sure he's getting the reps," Fletcher said. "So many injuries the last two years — I know he didn't play well, but every summer he was hurt and rehabbing. This is the first time he's been healthy, so my expectation is if he was down, he'd be a better player."
Fletcher said Bulmer just needs to play games.
"He's had [two] head injuries, a shoulder injury, a knee injury," Fletcher said. "He's had four significant injuries in the last three years. He's one of those kids where it seems like he'd get back, get healthy and get going, then bam, there's something else to derail him."
This is one reason the Wild decided to claim Porter, who played six years for the St. Louis Blues and lives in Eden Prairie, off waivers from the Flyers.
"I woke up this morning in my own bed and was excited to come to the rink and see a lot of the guys that I'm familiar with and get a practice out of the way and get my legs under me," Porter said. "It was strange. The hockey world's crazy. One minute you're in Philadelphia and next thing you're back home."
Porter skates with many Wild players in Edina before the season.
"You don't usually walk into a locker room and know half the team already. It kind of feels like home already," he said.
It was clear Friday that Graovac, who has been having private tutorials with Yeo away from the ice all camp, felt at home, too.
"I think I bring a lot to this lineup," Graovac said. "I bring a lot of size, I bring a lot of skill and speed. If I can do well on my faceoffs and defensive end, these guys [Vanek and Coyle] will work magic for me on the wall. I know that for sure already."