Spelling and pronunciations are not Bruce Boudreau’s forte.
The Wild coach, asked what he knows about Nino Niederreiter after the World Cup returnee practiced for the first time Monday, said, “Well, I can spell his first name.” He did appreciate how Niederreiter “fit like a glove” reuniting on last year’s line with Erik Haula and Jason Pominville.
Later, when a reporter pronounced Joel Eriksson Ek’s first name, “Yool,” Boudreau interrupted his own response to the question by asking, “Is his name Yool or Joel?” When told the Swedish forward says it’s “Yool,” Boudreau said, “I know, but then I look at the [lineup card] and it’s a ‘J.’ I’m sitting there on the bench saying, ‘Am I calling this guy by the wrong name all the time?’ ”
Eriksson Ek, frankly, says it “doesn’t matter” how Boudreau pronounces his name.
As you can tell, Monday was a light day at Xcel Energy Center, well, for everyone other than Jordan Schroeder and Kurtis Gabriel, who were two of five players cut from training camp, and defenseman Victor Bartley. Bartley tore his left triceps in Sunday’s preseason game and will be sidelined “months, rather than weeks,” assistant GM Brent Flahr said.
Bartley, a 28-year-old veteran with 121 games of NHL experience, will need surgery. With Bartley hurt and defenseman Gustav Olofsson destined to play games in Iowa after season-ending shoulder surgeries the past two years, this could force the Wild to put both Christian Folin and Nate Prosser on the team. There was thought the Wild would risk waivers on one of the blue-liners if Mike Reilly earns a spot but, with Bartley hurt, the Wild likely can’t afford losing Folin or Prosser to another team.
Schroeder finds himself on waivers for the fifth time in a year. If he once again goes unclaimed at 11 a.m. Tuesday, he’ll be assigned to Iowa. Center Pat Cannone is also on waivers with the intent of sending him to Iowa. Gabriel, Olofsson and Zack Mitchell don’t need waivers and were also assigned to Iowa.
Boudreau said the organization decided it knows what Schroeder can bring to a lineup but is less sure about roster hopefuls Eriksson Ek, Alex Tuch, Zac Dalpe, Tyler Graovac and Christoph Bertschy.
Those five and veteran Ryan Carter, on a tryout vying for a contract, are all expected to get another shot during Tuesday’s exhibition game in Denver.
As for Gabriel, Boudreau said: “There’s no sense in him being a six-minute-a-game guy here or being the 13th forward. We know he’s tough and we know he can fight. A lot of guys of his ilk played two or three or four years in the minors before they get the chance because they have to learn how to play before they got up. I think he can play in the end if he picks up a little bit of his game.”
A few years ago, Olofsson was considered one of the Wild’s top prospects. While the Wild still has high hopes for the 2013 second-rounder, the team knows it has to figure out a way to keep him healthy. He has only played 53 games in Iowa the past two years and didn’t skate with the Wild in this fall’s training camp after sustaining a knee injury the first day of the prospect tournament.
“My focus was mostly getting over my shoulder, and my mind was on that a little bit playing my first game and I played too hesitant,” Olofsson said.
Iowa coach Derek Lalonde looks forward to working with Olofsson, whom he once coached in Green Bay of the USHL.
“Even in his junior days, this was a bit of an issue,” Lalonde said. “Slipping hits is a skill now, and it’s a reality of being a pro. Even back then, he was very courageous in that he’ll stay to the last second to absorb a hit and transition the puck. It’s put him in some bad situations. He knows it’s something he needs to work on. There are times to avoid hits, and we’ll work with him on it.”
• Boudreau said Zach Parise, Eric Staal, Mikko Koivu, Mikael Granlund, Ryan Suter, Jared Spurgeon and Devan Dubnyk won’t play in Denver on Tuesday night.
• Koivu didn’t practice Monday. He and some Wild staff members attended the funeral of Mark Sickman, the father of longtime Wild director of media relations Aaron Sickman.