The Wild has some holes in its lineup to fill before resuming its season Tuesday at Los Angeles, but one player the team can pencil in for that game is defenseman Matt Dumba.
Despite going down with what looked like a gruesome injury before the team's season was put on hold by a COVID-19 outbreak, Dumba avoided a serious setback and believes he can play when the team gets back in action.
"It was honestly good to have a little time off and rest the ankle and let everything heal up," Dumba said Friday after participating in the Wild's first practice at Xcel Energy Center since the team's facilities reopened. "I feel like I'm ready now."
Dumba was hurt Jan. 30 against Colorado after getting tangled up with teammate Jordan Greenway and taking an awkward tumble to the ice as his right leg bent underneath him. He was helped down the tunnel leading away from the bench and sat out the next two games before the NHL shut down the Wild as more players joined the league's COVID protocols.
"Initially you're in so much pain," Dumba recalled. "I heard a pop, and you get scared of what it might be. But I got lucky, and it wasn't as bad as we thought. We took all the right steps to make sure I'm feeling good today, and there's no real issues with it now."
Before he got hurt, Dumba registered his third goal of the season — half his total output from all last season when he was returning from a torn pectoral muscle that kept him out the second half of 2018-19.
"Those are some of the fears I initially had," said Dumba, referring to his past injury. "The feeling you have that night where things start to settle down and you can see how swollen it was and the fluid inside the foot, it gets a little scary. But we did all the right tests, looked at it, and there's no real problems. It's just a matter of letting it calm down and getting the right treatments."
Winger Mats Zuccarello has yet to play a game this season for the Wild, but he moved closer to a return Friday by skating in his first team session without a noncontact jersey.
"Obviously, it's going to take a little bit of time to get into a normal rhythm," Zuccarello said, "but it felt good."
Zuccarello has been recovering from offseason arm surgery, an issue he believes stems from the broken right arm he suffered in February 2019. It's unclear if he'll be ready to play Tuesday.
"It's been real frustrating," said Zuccarello, who had 15 goals and 22 assists last season. "You never want to miss out on skating and working out and stuff like that. But sometimes it's necessary to take care of something that's been there for a while."
Captain Jared Spurgeon and winger Marcus Johansson suffered upper-body injuries before entering the NHL's COVID protocols, and those issues could sideline the players longer than the protocols.
"That's kind of what we're waiting on, too, to see how long their injuries will keep them out," General Manager Bill Guerin said. "I think the COVID end of it, it is what it is, and we'll find that out soon enough. But the injury part with those two players is what could keep them out."