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Koivu Still a Sounding Board for Teammates, Coaches

Boudreau: 'I'm definitely going to lean on him'

by Phil Ervin / Minnesota Wild

ST. PAUL, Minn. -- Wild captain Mikko Koivu is in the midst of his 13th NHL training camp, has played in 808 games and has seen three coaching changes.

And even before coach Bruce Boudreau took over, Koivu was considered somewhat of a sage in the dressing room. The mild-mannered, regal 33-year-old has two main pieces of advice for his younger teammates halfway through Minnesota's training camp.

No. 1: Be patient. No. 2: Be yourself.

"It's going to take time to get comfortable; we have that now," Koivu said after practice Saturday at Xcel Energy Center. "For sure, you've got to trust the systems and play the way we're supposed to play, but you can't change who you are as a player. So play with your strengths, play with your instincts, and the rest will come."

Video: Mikko Koivu - training camp Day 9

Koivu enters his 12th NHL season, all with Minnesota, having experienced a little bit of everything. That includes a late return to camp this year after representing Finland at the World Cup of Hockey 2016.

For that reason, Boudreau said, he'll rely heavily upon Koivu's wisdom. The coach hopes to sit down for lunch or dinner and pick his brain sometime soon.

"I'm definitely gonna lean on him with questions," Boudreau said. "He's got a good feel. I coached his brother [Saku Koivu from 2012-13 in Anaheim]. They know hockey, so why wouldn't you lean on them?"

With select season ticket holders watching, Koivu skated with Chris Stewart and Mikael Granlund on Saturday in a practice Boudreau said could preview Minnesota's opening-day lines. Likewise, fans at Sunday's 5 p.m. preseason contest against Carolina are likely to see something close to a full NHL lineup in game action.

Left wing Zach Parise, center Eric Staal and Charlie Coyle have emerged on the top line between Koivu's group and Jason Zucker, Erik Haula and Jason Pominville. Fourth-line spots are wide open, Boudreau has said.

On defense, Ryan Suter and Jared Spurgeon, Marco Scandella and Nate Prosser, Jonas Brodin and Christian Folin, and Mike Reilly and Matt Dumba were paired together Saturday. Three of those four combinations are expected to play Sunday evening.

Koivu, Parise, Suter and Granlund are expected to make their preseason debuts.

It'll be Kids Day at Xcel Energy Center, and honorees from the 2016 Medal of Honor Convention taking place in the Twin Cities will be recognized. Wild faithful can tune in via KFAN 100.3 or stream the game live on FOX Sports GO.

For Koivu, it's a chance to get back in game shape after a week-and-a-half since Finland's final World Cup contest.

"Very happy tomorrow's a game day," Koivu said.

Neiderreiter expected to practice Monday

After playing in the World Cup finals with Team Europe, forward Nino Niederreiter is expected to join Minnesota on Monday for his first training camp practice, Boudreau said.

Palmquist, Hagel clear waivers

Wild prospects Zach Palmquist and Marc Hagel cleared waivers and were assigned to the Iowa Wild on Saturday.

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