Barring something unforeseen, the Wild's opening night roster for Thursday in Denver may be set.
The Wild assigned defenseman Mike Reilly to AHL Iowa on Tuesday, placed right wing Jordan Schroeder on waivers and placed right wing Justin Fontaine (oblique) on injured reserve.
Reilly was initially going to be outside the Wild's top-6, so the Wild decided to send the first-year pro to the minors to play games. Schroeder technically doesn't have to be assigned to Iowa if he clears waivers tomorrow, but the move gives the Wild flexibility if there's potential roster moves like waivers or trades on the horizon or when Fontaine is ready to play.
In other words, if Schroeder were to stay on the roster after clearing waivers, he could immediately be sent to Iowa without waivers once Fontaine is ready to return. Fontaine can come off IR at any time and be eligible to play because he got hurt Sept. 24.
Last year, Fontaine missed the first two games with a glute injury and was ready to return in Game 3.
The biggest news of the day: Tyler Graovac made the team out of camp and even subtracted nine digits off his sweater number. He now will wear No. 44, which is apropos because I told somebody the other day he reminds me of Rob Niedermayer. The hope is he'll score more though.
We now interrupt this blog for a post-practice update from Rachel.
Graovac said he was sent to coach Mike Yeo's office as soon as he arrived at Xcel Energy Center for Tuesday's practice. "You never want to go there, but it was all positive,'' he said. "I worked really hard to get here. But the hard work is just beginning.''
And about that number: Graovac said he had worn number 53 since it was randomly assigned to him when he entered the Wild organization at age 18. He was asked Tuesday if he'd like to change. "(53) had started to grow on me a little bit,'' he said. "But I've always been a fan of the number 4. I've always liked it. I figured I'd just double that number.''
Some commentary from Yeo about today's moves:
--On Reilly going to Iowa: "It was really important that we kept him here as long as we could. But I don’t think it's very valuble for him to be around and not playing games right now. Basically, the message to Mike was that (going to Iowa) is not a long-term deal. We don’t know what's going to happen a week out from now, let alone two months. I just want to make sure he's concentrating on his game and when he gets his opportunity, he'll be ready to go.
"He's had a good camp. He's come a long way. This is just part of the process. He's going to be a pretty special player.''
--On Graovac: "He's gotten better, and he's going to have to keep getting better. What he did very well is he demanded a roster spot. He demanded that with his play. The message is pretty clear. Just keep doing the same.''
--On Schroeder, who will be assigned to Iowa if he clears waivers: "It was a bit of a tough camp for him. He got sick. He got hurt. And then with (Graovac) jumping up and playing center, and moving Charlie (Coyle) to the wing, that had a bit of a factor for him. We see a lot of value in (Schroeder). I think he did a great job last year, and we know he can play different roles for us. We just want to make sure his game is ready to go.''
Fontaine and Erik Haula (groin) practiced today.
That's all the news from the X--now, back to Russo.
Reminder also, I'll be hosting a live chat at www.startribune.com/wild at 3 p.m. Thursday -- four hours before the puck drop's on the season. I'll also be on KFAN that day at 9:35 a.m. and 4:15 p.m.
If you didn't see my profile today on Nino Niederreiter, it's a pretty fun read. Here's the link.
The Wild roster as of now:
Jason Zucker-Mikko Koivu-Nino Niederreiter
Zach Parise-Mikael Granlund-Jason Pominville
Thomas Vanek-Tyler Graovac-Charlie Coyle
Chris Porter-Erik Haula-Ryan Carter
Jordan Schroeder (I'll keep him on the roster unless he's officially sent down tomorrow)
Injured reserve: Justin Fontaine
Ryan Suter-Jared Spurgeon
Jonas Brodin-Matt Dumba
Marco Scandella-Christian Folin