Charlie Coyle is relieved to know he’s likely to start this season at right wing.
So, naturally of course, the Wild forward spent the first five days of training camp playing center. But coach Bruce Boudreau said Wednesday that was only because centers Mikko Koivu and Erik Haula were at the World Cup.
At Wednesday’s practice, with both Koivu and Haula practicing, Coyle took a spot on the right side of Zach Parise’s line, and it’s at right wing where Boudreau says he envisions Coyle playing.
“You never know,’’ Coyle said, “it could change as it has quite a few times if there are injuries or whatever happens in game. I’ll be ready, but it is nice to know I’ll be playing the wing, starting there and get a feel there in practice, get some reps in and just feel comfortable there.’’
Coyle has answered the center/right wing question about 1,000 times, which almost feels like the amount of times he’s flipped between positions during his Wild tenure.
But Coyle always seems to play better at wing. Take last season: He scored a career-high 21 goals, 11 of those coming during an 18-game stretch in which he played mostly wing.
“I think I’m built more for that game,” he said. “Long-term, I think they like me at center, I don’t know. It doesn’t matter to me, but it is nice to be able to consistently play one place and not go back and forth. Mentally, once you play one place, you feel more comfortable.”
Boudreau said Wednesday that Coyle’s play at center shows him that if the Wild needs to in a pinch, Coyle can fill in. But Boudreau feels it’s important for players to know what position they’ll be playing, and for Coyle, it’s right wing.
Boudreau said before training camp he plans to give Coyle a try on the right side of the first line with Parise and Eric Staal. It’ll be interesting if Boudreau experiments with that line for the first time in Sunday’s home exhibition game against Carolina.
“It would be a confidence booster to play with those guys,’’ Coyle said. “I’d have a big role there. I think we could do some damage. If I play there, I have to produce, that’s all.”
• The Wild trimmed its camp roster to 48 players (including injured minor leaguers). With the AHL’s Iowa Wild set to open training camp in Des Moines on Friday, Adam Gilmour, Adam Vay, Guillaume Gelinas and Alex Gudbranson were assigned there.
Dmitry Sokolov was returned to Sudbury of the Ontario Hockey League, and Gustav Bouramman was returned to Sault Ste. Marie of the OHL. Parker Bowles, Alex Petan and Nolan Zajac were released from their tryouts and will now try out for Iowa.
• Sunday’s exhibition game is “Kids Day.” The Wild and hundreds of season-ticket holders donated roughly 3,000 tickets to more than 20 community and nonprofit organizations.
• Thursday’s Wild-Jets exhibition game airs on NHL Network at 7 p.m. and can be heard on KFAN (100.3-FM).