GM Chuck Fletcher always asserts that recalls and reassignments often occur after he asks the coaches what lineup they want to ice against a particular team.
That could explain this morning's recall of center Tyler Graovac, whose play was so not up to snuff a week ago, the Wild risked losing him on waivers simply to come up with a new recipe (Fletcher's word) for a fourth line coach Bruce Boudreau admitted he didn't trust against opposing top lines in the defensive zone.
But with one game before the five-day bye and the Wild hosting the Chicago Blackhawks on Tuesday night, the Wild recalled Graovac from AHL Iowa this morning after reassigning Alex Tuch yesterday.
Practice isn't until 11, but my guess: Despite the Erik Haula-centered fourth line being one of the Wild's best lines since Haula moved into that role with Graovac's departure, Boudreau likely wants two trusted defensive lines going up against the lines of Artem Anisimov and Jonathan Toews on Tuesday.
Upgrading Haula, who usually plays well against the Blackhawks, and giving the speedy center a regular shift would give Boudreau that along with the "shutdown line" of Mikko Koivu's trio (a shutdown line that shuts down by lighting other teams up, typically, as Kent Youngblood wrote today here).
Also, the Zach Parise-Charlie Coyle-Alex Tuch line was, analytically, the Wild's worst in its win vs. Nashville.
So, I'd guess Coyle moves back to wing against the Blackhawks.
Most interesting: Remember when Boudreau told me in Winnipeg earlier this month that he planned to use this month with lineup experimentation to see what the Wild most needs going into the March 1 trade deadline?
The Wild's 5-1-1 since, meaning Boudreau and Fletcher were able to accomplish this task for the most part without losing any ground in its hope of winning the West.
What has the Wild learned, in my opinion?
-- Gustav Olofsson, albeit a small sample size, is pretty doggone poised and could likely be trusted in the postseason. That could give Fletcher options going into the trade deadline if it wants to trade one of his defensemen.
-- Jonas Brodin can be trusted playing the right side if needed.
-- Tuch is not NHL ready, meaning the Wild probably needs to acquire another forward at the deadline. Fletcher has options there, too.
-- Get a winger, Coyle can be moved to center. Get a center, and Coyle can be moved back to right wing and Haula can play third- or fourth-line center depending on the type of center acquired.
Like I said, practice is at 11.
I'd think we'll see a very motivated Graovac tomorrow night. I do think the Wild will send Graovac (won't need waivers again until 10 games and 30 days) and maybe even Olofsson down after tomorrow's game just for the five-day bye to save cap space.
We'll also find out at practice if Matt Dumba may return tomorrow vs. the Hawks.
The big question if he comes back: Does the Wild take Olofsson out and move Brodin back to the left side or does the Wild keep Olofsson-Brodin intact, play a Marco Scandella-Dumba third pair and take Christian Folin out?
Against the Hawks, it may be the latter. In the playoffs and against heavy teams, Folin comes in handy. He was one of the first defensemen in to protect Devan Dubnyk consistently the other night against Nashville, and the Wild will need that size and courage down the stretch and maybe at times in the postseason.
But Wild-Hawks games always have a different makeup. Not a lot of hate there.