The 2008-09 season was filled with injuries for the Minnesota Wild, but it wasn’t just at the NHL level that injuries were felt. The teams top pick from the 2008 NHL Draft, Tyler Cuma
, also found himself on the injured list.
"It was a frustrating year," Cuma said Tuesday after the first day of Wild Development Camp 2009. "Obviously I wanted to play. I felt I had a good camp here and I was looking forward to a good season back in Ottawa."
Cuma played just 21 games for the Ottawa 67’s before his knee injury, which required arthroscopic surgery to repair meniscus. Cuma recorded nine points (1-8=9) before missing the remainder of the season, including a trip to the IIHF World Junior Championship in Canada.
"I think the most frustrating part about the injury is the time it happened -- trying out for Canada," Cuma said. "They ended up winning the gold just 10 minutes from where I live back in Canada, so that was a tough pill to swallow, knowing that you were going to be on that team if not for the injury. But I’ve got to battle through that adversity. You can’t really dwell on those."
Cuma spent the spring and beginning of summer in rehab, and the camp is a good chance for him to assess his progress.
"Today felt good," he said. "[This camp is] more of a test to see exactly where I’m at with my rehab and fitness level right now. I’ve had a chance to work out a little bit longer than these guys, but more rehab than anything. I want to get my conditioning up and see where my knee is. I have a nice brace I have to wear on my leg that helps me stabilize the joint, but it’s feeling really good. I was quite surprised. This is the first really hard skate with drills going, and I’m pleased with the first day so far."
The camp is just the beginning for Cuma, though, as he prepares for a busy schedule the rest of the summer. He will return to Canada after this camp to work out before heading to another camp for the World Junior team at the beginning of August. Cuma will then have training camp for Ottawa, followed by minicamp for the Wild.
Still, he is ready for his busy summer and excited to return to the ice.
"It was a minor surgery, but the rehabilitation takes a long process to heal, [though] by season time, it should be 99 percent. There will probably still be a little pain, but I can fight through."
Despite the injury and long rehab process this year, Cuma is staying positive and looking forward to next season.
"I’m still going to come in with a clear mindset knowing that I can make this team. Obviously, the guys here know they’re getting a lot of players to fill the roster, but we can’t look at it like that. We come in and have good camps. Some people may say I need another year of development, and, if that’s the case, so be it. But my goal is still to make the team right away."Teammates Again
Draft day was an extra special day for two Wild draft picks, Alexander Fallstrom and Erik Haula
. The duo were roommates and linemates last season at Shattuck-St. Mary’s in Faribault, MN.
Fallstrom, a native of Gothenburg, Sweden, was selected in the fourth round, 116th overall.
"It was the best day of my life," Fallstrom said. "I couldn’t be happier. I’ve been living in Minnesota for two years now and I really love it, so it was great."
Haula, a native of Pori, Finland, was selected in the seventh round, 182nd overall.
"I was really nervous,” Haula said. "Going to the seventh round, I was feeling I might not get drafted, but it’s a great feeling when you hear your name and go down there."
Both players enjoyed being on the ice for the first day at camp, but are also taking in the opportunity to meet and bond with all the new players.
"It’s been really nice," Haula said. "There are good guys here, and I haven’t been skating for a while, so it was nice to get out there."
And while they are taking advantage of meeting new players, Fallstrom admits having his teammate around helps take away some of the pressure.
"It helps a lot, even though I’ve started getting to know the new guys," he said. "It’s always nice to have a couple guys you already know."
After the camp, both players will be heading back to their native countries and will participate in their respective National Team camps before returning to the United States for next season.Notebook Notes
Part of Tuesday’s “team bonding” activities included a quiz taken by all players in the camp. Colton Gillies, Kyle Medvec
, Darcy Kuemper
, Morten Madsen and Anthony Hamburg
finished at the top with a score of 107.5 out of a possible 141. Maxim Noreau, Nick Leddy, Matthew Hackett, Haula and Eero Elo finished at the bottom of the group at 54.5. The contents of the quiz were not made available, but rumors say the quiz included questions on pop-culture as well as the Minnesota Wild.
The afternoon/evening session included meetings with Sports Psychologist Charlie Maher and new Strength and Conditioning Coach Chris Pietrzak-Wegner.