Look who's here! Dany Heatley, the Wild vet of the past three years, is 33, but it seems California has been good to him. He looks younger and in good shape.
"It's the California sun, Roose," said Heatley.
Heatley won't play in Anaheim's home opener against the Wild on Friday though. He is out with a groin injury.
This guy will those....
Clayton Stoner, fresh off signing a four-year, $13 million deal to triple last year's $1.1 million salary from the Wild, will be paired with offensive defenseman Sami Vatanen.
“I kind of just felt like I needed a change from Minnesota,” Stoner said. “Nothing against it. Just sometimes change is good for somebody and keeps you motivated for a new team, new teammates and a good opportunity here.”
He already has stitches on his left eyebrow from being checked into the glass, has gotten into a scrap and believes he has put himself in a position here to win a Cup.
“[Playing the Wild in the home opener] makes it more exciting to play the game," Stoner said. "I love those guys so much that it probably will be more smiles at them. I’ll be playing as hard as I can like I do every night but after playing for so long with those guys, it’ll be fun.”
Stoner joked he looked forward to checking his old buddy Kyle Brodziak “because he probably wouldn’t get too mad at me,” although Brodziak may be a healthy scratch Friday. That's the way it looked in today's practice.
Stoner said Ducks coach Bruce Boudreau hadn’t yet asked him for background on the Wild.
“I’m surprised. I thought he’d been asking for my expertise,” Stoner joked.
On playing with stars Ryan Getzlaf and Corey Perry, Stoner said, It’s unbelievable. It’s pretty amazing. They just have a different dynamic than I’m used to with them being so big and able to protect the puck."
More on Stoner and Heatley, coincidentally close friends on the Wild, in Friday's paper.
After taking yesterday as a team building day by the pool and golf course and upscale resort and awesome meal, the Wild had a good, hard practice today and will have to figure out a way to go right back into combat after so much time off. It hasn't played since Saturday.
Just like Tuesday, it appears as if Ryan Carter will center the fourth line with Matt Cooke and Jason Zucker, although coach Mike Yeo said they still have to talk about that. Justin Fontaine will make his season debut on the right side of Thomas Vanek and Mikko Koivu.
Vanek gets to move back to where he feels most comfortable -- the left wing, and Fontaine's there because the line looked good together before Fontaine got hurt. Yeo doesn't want to mess with the Nino Niederreiter-Erik Haula-Charlie Coyle line. He's very happy with that line. And even though Zucker will play right wing on the fourth line, Yeo doesn't know if he's quite ready to play the off wing full-time yet. If he looks good at right wing and Fontaine doesn't, Yeo said he may spot up Zucker the way he did during his big goal in Colorado with Vanek and Koivu. Yeo liked the way Zucker was playing, so he moved him up.
But, basically, Yeo wants to insert Fontaine without touching the top line and the third line, and he wants Fontaine on the second line because they're three offensive guys who think the game well.
By the way, retired Saku Koivu watched his brother practice today.
Keith Ballard and Matt Dumba is a pair, as is Nate Prosser and Christian Folin. As I have indicated all week, that leads me to believe one pair will play against the Ducks, the other Sunday at L.A. Yeo said the Ballard-Dumba pair will go vs. Anaheim.
"I don’t want to go three weeks into a season and all of a sudden we need a defenseman and they haven’t played," Yeo said of Ballard and Prosser. "They have no foundation, they've got no base for a season. All of training camp would be pretty much a waste. So, try to get them involved here early and we’ve got a team here, too. We don’t have a bunch of guys and a few extras. We’ve got a team. It’s always good to make sure that guys know they can work hard to come into the lineup and guys know that they have to work hard to stay in the lineup. Nothing’s given to anybody."
Big test for the Wild going up against Anaheim and L.A. Ducks were 29-8-5 at home last year.
"We really believe that Minnesota is a really good team," Boudreau said. "They were good in the playoffs. They could have beaten Chicago. As a matter of fact, even though Chicago won in six, I thought Minnesota outplayed them for most of the time. It was just that karma or whatever that Chicago had that let them win that series. They’ve come in, and a good Colorado team, they beat them badly twice. We know it’s a great test for us, for our young players. We’re going to use them as a measuring stick to see where we're at."
Patrick Maroon is out with a sprained knee for the Ducks, so speedster Emerson Etem looks like he'll slide onto the line with Getzlaf and Perry.