The Wild didn’t just scramble its forward lines in the aftermath of an ugly loss to the Bruins Saturday at home.
On Sunday, the team also made a roster move – placing defenseman Nick Seeler on waivers for the purpose of assigning him to the American Hockey League.
Seeler has been the odd man out on the blue line for most of the season, appearing in just six games – one of which he dressed as an extra defenseman and logged only two shifts.
“If we were Boston, I’d be playing him every second game, working him in, but we’re not,” coach Bruce Boudreau said. “We’re fighting for our lives.”
Should he clear waivers, Seeler would rejoin an Iowa team that he’s familiar with; just last month, Seeler spent nearly two weeks in the minors on a conditioning assignment. But there’s also the chance another team claims him, a scenario that could give the 26-year-old a fresh start elsewhere after he fell down the depth chart this season amid the emergence of rookie Carson Soucy.
In 99 career games with the Wild after being drafted in the fifth round in 2011, Seeler has two goals, 11 points and 93 penalty minutes. He played a career-high 71 games last season as a regular.
“I had a good talk with him [Sunday] morning,” Boudreau said. “I’ve been in his shoes. That’s the thing. I know what it’s like, and I asked to be sent down when I was in Toronto because as hockey players, we want to play. You don’t even look at the money after a while. It’s just, ‘Let me play. If I want to continue my career, then I’ve got to show guys I can play.’
“And maybe [Monday] he gets picked up and would love it if he did because he’s a tremendous person. He works so hard in practice. It’s just unfortunate.”
While he waits for a resolution, Seeler stayed off the ice Sunday but everyone else participated in another hearty practice that had a similar workmanlike vibe to the session Boudreau held Friday in the team’s first workout since an eight-day layoff for the All-Star Game and bye week.
But when the team returned to action against the Bruins, it didn’t look ready to compete – getting steamrolled 6-1.
“Obviously, the sluggishness with nine days off was there,” Boudreau said. “So, I thought a good skate was needed. We definitely need a different result.”
Although Boudreau kept the first line featuring Zach Parise, Eric Staal and Mats Zuccarello intact, he juggled the other three trios.
Luke Kunin centered Jason Zucker and Kevin Fiala, Jordan Greenway joined Joel Eriksson Ek and Marcus Foligno, and Ryan Donato worked with Mikko Koivu and Ryan Hartman. Victor Rask was the extra forward.
As for the defensemen, they rotated for some of the drills but also used the same top-four. Brad Hunt lined up next to Greg Pateryn occasionally.
“Sometimes it’s good to get different combinations to get a little bit of life,” Boudreau said. “I think we did it two years ago; I remember we put Staal with Zucker and [Mikael] Granlund, and they went on a tear for about two weeks and then you put them back on their line. I don’t know or anticipate the same kind of results, but we looked pretty stale [Saturday].”