When asked Friday if three forward spots on the Wild roster are still “completely wide open,” Bruce Boudreau smiled because the Dixie Chicks’ album, “Wide Open Spaces,” was the first thing that popped into his head.
“That would be a correct assessment,” Boudreau said.
Before Thursday’s preseason loss in Winnipeg, Boudreau told a lineup full of roster hopefuls that “no one’s jumped out and taken possession” of the open jobs yet.
“Some of them played a little bit better,” he said. “We’ve got three more games. Let’s see who else takes a jump in the right direction.”
Veteran Ryan Carter seems to be battling Kurtis Gabriel, Christoph Bertschy and rookie Alex Tuch for a job, but so far, Boudreau’s been underwhelmed with Carter.
“I’m not going to build him up when I don’t think he deserves to be built up,” Boudreau said.
Tyler Graovac is competing with Zac Dalpe and 19-year-old Joel Eriksson Ek for the fourth-line center spot, but Graovac struggled in Winnipeg.
[Assistant coach John Anderson] had a really good talk with Tuch and showed him all his own video from the previous games and I think Tuch came out and had his best game,” Boudreau said. “He’s doing the same thing with Grao.”
Graovac said he must get better.
“Personally, I’ve got more in me,” he said. “I can bring more. Last game especially wasn’t my best game … I’m almost oversimplifying and getting out of position a little too much just because I want to do too much. I need to find that balance.”
Goalies Devan Dubnyk and Darcy Kuemper looked rusty in their exhibition debuts — Dubnyk with his rebound controls, Kuemper with his ability to challenge shooters and sliding side to side.
Dubnyk gave up three goals on 29 shots against Colorado, Kuemper four goals on 28 shots against Winnipeg.
“It could be rustiness. … I hope that’s all it is,” Boudreau said. “They’re going to get chances to go back in and we’ll see how it works.”
Alex Stalock, slated to start the season in Iowa, stopped 39 shots in a win against Buffalo earlier this week.
• Defenseman Gustav Olofsson (knee) and forward Zack Mitchell (ankle) skated Friday. It was Olofsson’s first time on the ice since getting hurt in Traverse City.
• The Wild trimmed its roster to 38. Mario Lucia and Colton Beck were assigned to Iowa and Zach Palmquist and Marc Hagel will be Saturday, provided they clear waivers at 11 a.m.
• Defenseman Marco Scandella, who missed Thursday’s game with a “tweak,” practiced Friday.
• Left wing Nino Niederreiter returned from the World Cup on Friday.