David Jones, Jason Zucker and Jonas Brodin all practiced with the Wild this morning at Ridder Arena before the team left for a two-game eastern swing, and that'll make coach John Torchetti's lineup decisions a bit tougher for games Thursday in Toronto and Saturday in Buffalo.
Jones, acquired from Calgary on Monday, cleared up his work visa issues and got some reps with a power-play unit in practice. Brodin, out three weeks because of a broken foot, pronounced himself ready to play. And Zucker, concussed in the outdoor game Feb. 21 vs. Chicago, could be ready as well.
The Wild had a 6-3 (two empty netters) victory over Colorado on Tuesday night at the X, and Torchetti was fairly happy with his troops after that one, meaning he might not tinker much with the lineup.
"We'll see," he said. "We definitely want to stay healthy, and it’s going to be competitive to get in the lineup now. Certain guys are playing well, and you’ve got to work to stay in there, and other guys have got to wait their turn. I like the way we’re playing. As we go along we’ll pick and choose to see who fits in certain spots and give them the opportunity."
Jones is likely to play in Toronto: "We'll try to fit him in the lineup maybe tomorrow, and go from there," Torchetti said.
On Brodin and Zucker: "We’ll see, [Brodin will] skate in the morning and we’ll judge from there. Zucker same thing, we’ll see how he feels again."
Charlie Coyle scored twice against the Avs on the eve of his 24th birthday, giving him a team leading 21 goals. Playing with Mikko Koivu and Zach Parise agrees with him.
"Charlie’s game has always been what he’s doing without the puck, to generate that speed and using his size, so he’s done a good job," Torchetti said. "I think putting him out there with Mikko defensively, he’s learned a lot that way. Mikko had a really strong game defensively for us last night. A lot of guys don’t see that on the film, but I do. He was pretty strong down low and he got a lot of scoring chances taken away with good sticks and great coverage, but Charlie’s learning a lot from him and Zach."
Said Coyle: "I wanted to contribute more definitely [this season]. Previous years I wasn’t satisfied, not even close. I'm trying to get myself open and into good shooting areas. My linemates are playing great and setting me up, so that’s been nice.
"When I first started, I played with [Koivu and Parise] too, and I really learned a lot. More comfortable now, a few years under my belt, playing with these guys. You still learn. You hope to open some space up so they can do their thing out there. We’re getting better each game, getting more comfortable."
Brodin's return would come exactly three weeks after he broke a bone in a foot.
"I'm getting excited to get back to the guys and starting to play games," he said. "The guys are playing good right now, it’s fun to watch, but you want to be in there and help the team.
"I talked to Torch and he asked if I’m ready, and I told him I’m ready. We’ll see if I’m in the lineup. I feel ready.
"I hoped I would be back earlier, but it’s been pretty sore actually, but I feel good right now. It’s three weeks on Thursday, so pretty good for three weeks. The doc said three to six weeks, so that’s pretty good."
The Wild is in a top eight position in the West with 18 games remaining, but Koivu keeping cool in a game such as Tuesday's will be vital.
"It’s gonna be tight games the rest of the year, one goal games I’m sure," said Koivu, "so it’s important to feel comfortable in those situations."