Skip to main content
The Official Site of the Minnesota Wild

Prosser's presence not easily replaced in Wild dressing room

Veteran defenseman cleared waivers on Monday and was assigned to Iowa

by Dan Myers @MNWildScribe / Wild.com

ST. PAUL -- Nate Prosser has played in 15 games this season. In 354 NHL games in his career, he's tallied just 10 goals and 47 points. 

But his presence in the Wild's dressing room goes much further than the numbers he posts on the ice.

Prosser, along with forward J.T. Brown were placed on waivers by Minnesota on Sunday. Both players cleared waivers Monday and were assigned to Iowa, as the Wild summoned a pair of forwards, Luke Kunin and Kyle Rau, to the big club.

The writing was on the wall for days.

After the Wild claimed defenseman Anthony Bitetto during the All-Star break, giving the team eight defensemen on its active roster, a move was inevitable. It was simply a matter of what that move would be.

The decision to put Prosser on waivers wasn't an easy one for players to process. He's a favorite of teammates in the dressing room, and one who's had a big impact Nick Seeler, who made his NHL debut last season and played a bunch of minutes next to Prosser.

"That's a guy I've looked up to since I've been here," Seeler said. "We've actually been able to become really good buddies, and it's really sad to see that. I know he's bummed, but I'll be praying for the best for him. He's a great locker room guy, a great teammate and a great person, too, so I wish him nothing but the best."


[Want more Wild headlines? Sign up for e-News]
 

Wild General Manager Paul Fenton has made a number of roster moves over the past three weeks, trading for Pontus Aberg, Victor Rask and Brad Hunt and claiming Bitetto off waivers from Nashville. Players have also been moved up and down between Iowa. 

While Rask and Aberg have added new faces to the forward group, Hunt and Bitetto have shaken up a defensive core that had been relatively stable for some time. 

But with Hunt and Bitetto in, Prosser down to Iowa and Ryan Murphy dealt to New Jersey in a move that re-shaped the top of Iowa's defensive depth chart, there has been significant movement on the blue line.

Video: Wild call up forwards Kunin & Rau

"Any time you can add depth on defense, especially, it's a good thing," Seeler said. "Everybody has to elevate their game a little bit. But we need to focus on winning hockey games right now."

Brown has skated in 35 games this season, his first with Minnesota. He signed a two-year contract with the Wild on July 1, but hasn't been able to find consistent playing time. 

Like Prosser, Brown is an easy-going presence in the locker room who is well-liked.

"It's always tough losing any guys," said Wild forward Jason Zucker. "Pross and Brownie are great guys to have around the room. They're upbeat and having a good time. It's too bad, but I'm sure we'll see them again."

Ultimately, the NHL is a business, however, a fact every player recognizes and respects. 

Wild coach Bruce Boudreau said the team is simply attempting to improve its roster however it can, whether it be trades to acquire talent or calling up guys from Iowa who improve the roster's flexibility.

"We just want to get better," Boudreau said. "We're trying to improve our team, that's all."


Kunin, Rau give Wild options up front

Because Brown wasn't a regular on special teams, having eight defensemen on the roster really limited Boudreau's flexibility when it came to creating lines and finding matchups.

Both Kunin and Joel Eriksson Ek were playing well before the All-Star break, as Minnesota had won three-straight heading into the layoff.

And while Eriksson Ek isn't back yet, Kunin's return provides the Wild coach with options: Kunin can play up and down the lineup, is an effective penalty killer who has also seen some power-play time. He can even play center in a pinch if need be. 

The 26-year-old Rau was having a very good season in Iowa, leading the team with 14 goals. His 30 points in 45 games were third-most.

Boudreau said the Wild likes Rau's speed. And like Kunin, he's a guy who maintains flexibility in the lineup as a winger or a center who can play fourth-line minutes but also chip in with some offense.

Rau said he's excited for a chance to show what he can do.

"It's obviously really nice to get an opportunity, especially this time of year when things are kind of settled in a little bit," Rau sad. "You never know how long your opportunity is going to last, so I'll just try to make the most of it."

View More