The Wild has made a conscious decision to try to get bigger. That's why it traded for Charlie Coyle and Nino Niederreiter the past few years and why it has selected players such as Alex Tuch in recent drafts.
Wild fans were able to watch Tuch during the recent World Junior Championship. The United States disappointed by losing in the quarterfinals, but Tuch played on the Americans' top line with Jack Eichel, expected to go in the top two at June's draft.
"You look at our team and what we need going forward, he's one of those guys," assistant general manager Brent Flahr said. "He's a big, powerful guy, he has great hands, a laser of a shot and keeps getting better."
The Boston College freshman is tied for first on the Eagles in scoring. He'll likely attend B.C. at least two years.
"He has all the physical tools, but we'll be patient and realistic," Flahr said of Tuch, who is listed at 6-4 and 213 pounds. "He has made huge strides, but he's got a lot of things to learn and Boston College is a good place to develop."
TV analyst Pierre McGuire, in town for Tuesday's Wild-Sharks game on NBC Sports Network, says Tuch was "a steal at 17. I think his game will translate really well in the NHL. There's a lot of Wayne Simmonds in him. I like his toughness, release on his shot, slot area presence and board play.
"He's just so big and strong that he's got to play big and strong here. In college, he doesn't have to do that. Here, he will."
Stoner sounds off
Former Wild defenseman Clayton Stoner, a 2004 third-round pick who played 227 games for Minnesota, took some potshots in a recent Orange County Register article.
Stoner, playing well for Anaheim after signing a four-year, $13 million contract last summer, was quoted as saying, "I didn't like the way it was run in Minnesota. They kind of just give one defenseman [Ryan Suter] all the minutes and the rest suffer. And I wasn't happy there. I don't think the minutes displayed how I was playing. It was more of just the way things were run there."
Suter is on his way to leading the NHL in ice time per game for a third consecutive season, although this season, the Wild has three defensemen in the top 21 in average ice time per game (Jonas Brodin and Jared Spurgeon).
Coach Mike Yeo wouldn't comment about Stoner's criticism other than to say, "I don't think that Suts played 59 minutes of every game."
Stoner's average ice time took a hit last season at 13 minutes, 20 seconds per game. He is averaging 17:36 this season with Anaheim — less than he averaged in 2013 with the Wild (18:13 a game) and exactly what he logged in 2011-12 (17:36). In his career with the Wild, Stoner averaged 16:12 per game.
The Wild misses Stoner's left shot, size and physicality though, particularly with Keith Ballard out indefinitely because of a concussion.
• Defenseman Nate Prosser is the latest to catch the stomach virus that has been going through the Wild since early December. He missed Tuesday's game.
"It's made its way through a lot of different people," Yeo said. "I keep saying, 'It's his turn.' But I say that jokingly. I'd like for it to end. You have to overcome these things. But it seems like it always happens on a game day."
Defenseman Justin Falk was recalled to play his 10th game. Stu Bickel was scratched.
• The Wild lost defenseman Marco Scandella early in the third period because of an undisclosed injury.
• Defenseman Matt Dumba was selected to take part in the AHL All-Star Game Weekend Jan. 25-26 in Utica, N.Y. He has 11 points in 14 games for Iowa and is plus-3.