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From the Rink: Lakeville native Kloos preps for NHL debut

Minnesota also set to get Granlund back from injury on Tuesday against Canucks

by Dan Myers @1DanMyers / Wild.com

ST. PAUL -- Justin Kloos will make his NHL debut on Tuesday as the Wild opens a season-long six-game homestand against the Vancouver Canucks at Xcel Energy Center.

Kloos, a former Mr. Hockey from Lakeville South High School, ranks 28th on the all-time scoring list at the University of Minnesota, where he was a team captain and two-time All-Big Ten selection.

Video: Wild Pregame vs Vancouver

"It's something you think about when you're young and throughout your whole career this is where you want to be to get this opportunity," Kloos said. "Excitement, obviously a little bit nervous. I think going through all levels of hockey you're a little nervous every next step you take so this is nothing different."

After finishing his senior season last year, Kloos signed a free agent deal with the Wild and made his professional debut in Iowa, skating in nine games with the American Hockey League team, and scoring his first pro goal.

He has one goal and two assists in six games with Iowa this season.

Video: Becoming Wild Webisode: Iowa Wild game day

"He's a guy with good speed. The reports are, he's playing good down there," said Wild coach Bruce Boudreau. "We're big on the reward system up here; if you're playing good and you deserve it you're going to get a chance."

With all of the injury problems Minnesota has had early this season, it's had a domino effect in Iowa as well. With guys shuffling in and out of the lineup -- and in and out of town -- Iowa has been experiencing some of the same inconsistencies as the parent club.

The uncertainty down there has offered Kloos a chance at plenty of early ice time and a chance to build his game.

"It's been scrambling with calling guys up from different leagues, scrambling lines, just trying to put a team on the ice kind of thing," Kloos said. "It's been good. I've been able to get a lot of ice and build some confidence."

In addition to Kloos, Mikael Granlund's return to the lineup will also boost Minnesota.

The Wild's leading scorer last season with 69 points, Granlund has missed five of the first six games with a groin injury. He's been back on the ice for more than a week, slowly getting himself back into game shape.

"Like any team in the NHL, they get their best player back, it's going to impact them, and he's our best player," Boudreau said. "So hopefully he's not rusty, and he's in pure game form, and if he is, then we're a better team."
 
Here are the projected lineups:

WILD

Jason Zucker - Mikko Koivu - Mikael Granlund

Marcus Foligno - Eric Staal - Chris Stewart

Daniel Winnik - Matt Cullen - Luke Kunin

Tyler Ennis - Joel Eriksson Ek - Justin Kloos

Ryan Suter - Jared Spurgeon

Mike Reilly - Jonas Brodin

Kyle Quincey - Matt Dumba

Devan Dubnyk

Alex Stalock 

CANUCKS

Daniel Sedin - Henrik Sedin - Jake Virtanen

Sven Baertschi - Bo Horvat - Brock Boeser

Sam Gagner - Alex Burmistrov - Thomas Vanek

Markus Granlund - Brandon Sutter - Derek Dorsett

Ben Hutton - Chris Tanev

Michael Del Zotto - Troy Stetcher

Derrick Pouliot - Erik Gudbranson

Anders Nilsson

Jacob Markstrom

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