Other than Tyler Graovac and maybe one or two more depending on the health of its team, the Wild plans to dress a lineup Sunday against the Winnipeg Jets that will resemble its opening night roster.
Good evening from Saskatoon, where “the Wild” was beaten by the Edmonton Oilers, 3-0, on Saturday night. Check out Sunday's paper for a Jordan Schroeder story and Brett Bulmer update.
Only five roster shoo-ins played in the game, and only Marco Scandella and Erik Haula spent all of last season with the Wild (if you consider Darcy Kuemper actually played five games for Iowa on a conditioning stint).
Sunday will be the final day for several Wild players who will be assigned to Iowa.
After the Wild faces the Jets, the team will bus to Duluth until Wednesday for a team bonding trip. It’ll take Monday off, have a golf outing Tuesday and practice Tuesday and Wednesday at AMSOIL Arena. Wednesday’s 10:30 a.m. practice is free and open to the public.
On that bus ride will be pretty much the Wild’s team and maybe a couple extra bodies depending on health or if the Wild hasn’t made a final decision if they’ll start in Minnesota or in Iowa.
How many extras could depend on how bad off banged-up Justin Fontaine and Ryan Carter are. Carter isn’t supposed to be serious. Neither is Fontaine, but he got his twice pretty good in Columbus. But maybe the Wild brings a Ruslan Fedotenko or Zac Dalpe along for the ride.
So there will be roster cuts Sunday morning and afternoon. I’ll report em when I know em.
“That team building trip that we have you want to be as close to your group as possible,” Yeo said. “We’ll figure it out on the way home tonight. But my focus right now is the game tomorrow.”
I’d think it’s 100 percent Graovac is going to Duluth. That doesn’t necessarily mean he’ll be on the Oct. 8 roster, but I’d think he would stick around, especially since his game has improved as camp’s matured. It wouldn’t shock me if defenseman Mike Reilly accompanies the team as well. That, too, doesn’t mean he will be here Oct. 8, especially since the Wild has seven defensemen that either locks or on one-way contracts. He is still very raw and may need some time in Iowa.
Here’s my guess of the team as of now:
As for tonight’s game, Kuemper stopped 27 of 29 shots in his hometown of Saskatoon and did very well. He made a bunch of great saves early on and held No. 1 overall pick Connor McDavid to a single second assist after he stripped Matt Dumba of the puck en route to the game’s first goal.
Kuemper only got to spend like five minutes with his family and friends. The Wild had to sprint out of the arena and get in the air so it lands in Minnesota before customs closes at MSP at 10:30 (no U.S. customs in Saskastoon the way they are at other Canadian airports). Otherwise, the team was going to have to divert to Chicago. Right now, all looks good. Team is due in at 10:12 p.m.
“It would’ve been nice to get the win, but it was still a special night coming back home,” Kuemper said.
Said coach Mike Yeo: “I thought he had a real solid game all night. We were kind of under fire right off the hop. I think he allowed everybody to kind of settle into the game, so I thought it was a good showing for him.”
Yeo said it got a little hairy on the bench tonight playing so many minor-leaguers.
“The kids played hard,” Yeo said. “Obviously experience-wise, [the Oilers] had a much different lineup than we had, but our kids played hard. We were right in the game until they got that second one [in the third period]. I thought a lot of guys played good games, a lot of guys played hard games. We chased quite a bit tonight because we didn’t have the puck as much as we would’ve liked to have.”
Yeo said he liked Folin and Scandella, especially. I thought Dumba had a tough night, and he was, as Yeo said, just “OK” Tuesday in Winnipeg. So he has to pick it up before the season starts.
Brett Bulmer shows some flashes again tonight. I also thought Christoph Bertschy worked his tail off.
On Reilly, Yeo said, “I think he’s coming along. I’ve been happy with what we’ve seen so far. It’s just a work in progress. That’s the only thing I can say. Everything is new for him. You can see that he’s working hard to try to apply the system and show that he’s capable of playing the game the way we want it to be played. While he’s doing that he’s still showing that he can get up in the play and do some things offensively as well.”
We’ll have to check on Folin’s health Sunday. He got in a fight in the final minute of the game and looked like he hurt his hand. But he has had a real good camp and looks like he could start the season in the top-6 next to Scandella as the Wild tries to even out its pairs and trim some ice time from Ryan Suter.
By the way, Sunday’s game will be on NHL Network live at 5 p.m.