Set to begin a string of three road games in four nights and 10 games in 17 days against the powerhouse, star-studded Penguins, the Wild made four roster moves Wednesday.
Forwards Zack Mitchell and Christoph Bertschy, and defenseman Mike Reilly were recalled from Iowa.
In order to exceed the salary cap and afford Reilly in particular, the Wild placed defenseman Marco Scandella on long term injured reserve (LTIR) because of a high right ankle sprain. He joins injured Zac Dalpe on LTIR. It's a retroactive move (Scandella has to miss 10 games and 24 days), which means the soonest he can return is Nov. 23 against Winnipeg. He has not been skating.
Erik Haula practiced Wednesday for the first time since he injured his foot on Oct. 20. Coach Bruce Boudreau said it would be a game-time decision whether Haula re-enters the lineup at Pittsburgh. Haula will go on the road trip, and Wednesday he centered the third line with wingers Mitchell and Jason Zucker.
Boudreau said Haula looked like he was skating well in practice, but his conditioning could be suspect after the long layoff. Haula said his fitness felt "pretty good so far'' after practice, though he knows it will be different in a game. He wasn't getting his hopes up just yet about returning to the lineup.
"There have been good steps Monday and Tuesday, being on the ice,'' he said. "And being able to get a full practice in with the team was good. It's going to take a little bit of time. It's not going to be perfect. It’s been kind of frustrating, but we're heading toward the right direction, and hopefully tomorrow when I wake up, it feels good.
"We'll see how it reacts to this practice today and just keep going from there. I don’t want to have too many thoughts in my head yet. For sure, I'm real close. I'm hopeful. We'll see in the morning.''
Boudreau said there is "a good possibility'' Mitchell will make his NHL debut tomorrow. He has an underwhelming one goal, no assists and is minus-6 in 11 games for Iowa.
"He led [Iowa] in scoring last year,'' Boudreau said. "He missed all of training camp, so we didn’t get a chance to look at him. Talking to the Iowa coach yesterday, over the weekend he was their best forward. So we just decided, the last two games, we haven't really been scoring, so we're just going to give him a chance.''
The Reilly move makes sense. The Wild's power play has been a dreadful 5-for-34 and Reilly, according to GM Chuck Fletcher, has looked solid in Iowa, where he has seven points in seven games and is plus-1 with 22 shots.
Reilly said he fine-tuned the details of his game during his time in Iowa, and he is hopeful he can help the Wild's power play. So is Boudreau.
"We'll see how he does,'' Boudreau said. "The American League is a tough league. It's men. If you can play well there, you usually come up and you can play well here.''
Zach Parise likely will be on the road trip, but probably won't play until next week.
Staff writer Rachel Blount contributed to this blog post.