Marco Rossi hasn't played for the Wild in two weeks, but he shouldn't be idle for much longer.
The Wild sent the rookie back to the minors on Monday, an unsurprising move since he struggled offensively after making the team out of training camp.
Rossi will join Iowa in the American Hockey League, and the plan is for him to suit up on Tuesday at San Jose.
Leading up to this decision the Wild had been discussing different scenarios for Rossi, who earned a spot on the team after leading the NHL in preseason scoring with nine points in six games including a league-high seven assists.
But that impact didn't translate to the regular season. Rossi, 21, logged only four minutes in the second game and was a healthy scratch for the third. Not until Nov. 1 vs. Montreal did the center register his first NHL point, an assist on a Kirill Kaprizov goal.
"You play long enough, you have plenty of slumps: the beginning of the year, the middle of the year, the end of the year. It doesn't matter, but it happens," General Manager Bill Guerin said last week. "He's been a good sport through the whole thing. He continues to work hard and try to do the right things, and the good thing for us is that he's responsible in his defensive zone.
"He competes there. He knows what he's doing, and that's usually the hardest thing for a young player to really get a hold of. His production is something that hopefully will come. But we have to help him get there."
Before this assignment to Iowa, Rossi was scratched four straight games.
Overall, he has one assist and 11 shots in 16 games with the Wild this season.
"You don't want a young player sitting out any length of time," coach Dean Evason said on Saturday. "But … you can do a lot of thinking and evaluating and as long as it doesn't get to the point where it turns real negative, then you can use it in the right direction.
"His attitude's been real good. Practices have been real good. He's handled it so far real well. He's not happy obviously. We don't want him to be."
After getting drafted ninth overall in 2020 by the Wild, Rossi was sidelined in 2021 as he recovered from myocarditis, an inflammation of the heart that can be a complication from COVID-19.
Aside from two games with the Wild that included his NHL debut, Rossi spent most of last season with Iowa and tied for the team lead in scoring with 53 points and ranked fourth in goals with 18 through 63 games.
While Rossi has had rough stretches before, he said, none have been this long.
Last week he explained it would be better for his development to be with the Wild and experience what it's like in the NHL.
"If I'm down there [in the minors], you don't learn these things," Rossi said. "In your career or in your season, you always have ups and downs, and in your downs you really learn the most. So, these things I learn here maybe I will never learn again."
Guerin mentioned he shuffled between the NHL and AHL during his career and said the confidence boost from a stint in the minors was real for him, an opportunity to handle the puck and skate in situations a player isn't participating in at the NHL level.
"There's some pain involved in being a young player in the best league in the world," Guerin said, "and we've all been through it."
That's the adversity testing Rossi.
"I'm going through a process right now," Rossi said last week. "Even if it's not really easy sometimes, it's a process I have to go through. For me it's important to continue to stay patient and just keep working."