Forward lines and defense pairs on the first day of training camp usually change markedly by opening night, but Friday provided an early glimpse into what coach Mike Yeo is thinking.
Last season's Zach Parise-Mikael Granlund-Jason Pominville line stayed intact, while Nino Niederreiter, who began last season on the third line, swapped with Thomas Vanek and skated on the right side of Jason Zucker and Mikko Koivu. Vanek played on the left side of Charlie Coyle and Justin Fontaine; and Erik Haula centered Ryan Carter and Ruslan Fedotenko, a two-time Stanley Cup winner attempting an NHL comeback at age 36. What could be considered the fifth line featured roster hopefuls Michael Keranen, Tyler Graovac and Jordan Schroeder.
It's exciting for Niederreiter, who scored a career-high 24 goals, to be on a top line. He ranked eighth among Wild forwards last season in average ice time per game (14:32). The left-shot forward also loves playing his off wing because he can center himself on his forehand "and make some moves."
Yeo liked Niederreiter's first day, but he indicated he may experiment flipping Zucker and Niederreiter because it was hard for Niederreiter coming out of the defensive zone on his backhand.
"It would definitely be a fun line, but it's still training camp and anything can happen," Niederreiter said. "I'll try to make the best of it and try to find some chemistry right away. At the end of the day, it's my goal to be in the top six. Nothing is going to be given to me. I'll have to earn it."
As for defense pairs, the usual Ryan Suter-Jonas Brodin staple was detached. Suter skated with Jared Spurgeon and Brodin moved to left D alongside Matt Dumba. Marco Scandella and Christian Folin were paired, as were Mike Reilly and Nate Prosser.
"I'm sure we will see [Suter and Brodin] together at certain points, but I would really like to give Suts the opportunity to try a right shot with him," said Yeo, feeling that could help Suter create more offense.
Assistant coach Darryl Sydor, who entered an alcoholism treatment facility on Aug. 23, has voluntarily extended his stay in California beyond 30 days, his attorney, Ryan Pacyga, said Friday.
"I speak with him several times per week," Pacyga said. "He is making great progress and is doing exactly what he should be doing right now."
The Wild continues to support Sydor, and the hope from his end is that he can return to the team when deemed appropriate.
Sydor was arrested Aug. 20 for drunken driving. He will be arraigned Oct. 12 on two counts of second-degree driving while impaired with two aggravating factors — the endangerment of his child who was in the car and having a blood alcohol content of .16 or more.
Goalie Niklas Backstrom, who underwent offseason elbow surgery, was cleared for training camp and looked solid on his first day.
"It's a long summer. It's fun to be out there with the guys and leave summer hockey behind and see where you are," Backstrom said.
"There shouldn't be any limitations."
Yeo said the Wild doesn't have plans for Devan Dubnyk, Darcy Kuemper and Backstrom past the first two exhibition games.
Dubnyk is expected to start Monday's preseason opener against Buffalo.
• In Friday's scrimmage, Parise and Granlund scored two goals each and Matt Carey one in Team B's 5-4 win over Team A. Fedotenko, Carter, Haula and Gustav Olofsson scored for Team A. In a five-minute 3-on-3 scrimmage (overtime this season will no longer be 4-on-4), three goals were scored.
• Saturday's 9:30 a.m. scrimmage at Xcel Energy Center is open to the public.
• Linesman Brian Mach of Little Falls, the only full-time NHL official from Minnesota, will work his 1,000th NHL game Oct. 30 at Xcel Energy Center (Wild vs. Blackhawks).