Jarret Stoll will make his Minnesota Wild debut on Thursday, and any unfamiliarity he has skating with a new team may be trumped by the familiarity of one across the ice.
Stoll and the Wild will host the New York Rangers at Xcel Energy Center. The Wild claimed Stoll off waivers from the Rangers on Tuesday. He didn't have to wait long to get a crack at his former team.
"The only thing that's strange is how quick it is," Stoll said. "You do play against your former team unless you're fortunate enough to be with the same organization. But this close, the first game within two days of being on the New Rangers, that's going to be a little weird and a little different."
Head Coach Mike Yeo said the message for Stoll right now is to just play, and not be overly focused on learning the Wild's systems.
"The fact that he's a veteran player and played under different coaches and different systems, it will be a little quicker for him to pick things up," Yeo said. "We've got lots of time to get him fully up to speed with our game. I want to see him go out there and show us what his game is."
Stoll will skate on a line with Ryan Carter and Chris Porter in place of Erik Haula, and likely also see time on the penalty kill.
The Wild's fourth line, which Yeo has complimented often this season, had been playing with three left-handed shots prior to Stoll's inclusion.
"What it will do is maybe open up some more plays in the offensive zone," Carter said. "You get lefties a lot of times coming out in the corner, and he has to make a play on his backhand to the lefty, and vice versa."
Other than that, Carter said he knows Stoll is a dependable defensive player with a pedigree of having won two Stanley Cups, one of which came at Carter's expense when the Los Angeles Kings defeated the New Jersey Devils.
"He was on the winning end, and I was on the losing end, so I'll have to bring that up to him, or maybe I won't bring that up," Carter said.
The penalty kill is an area that has been rounding out for the Wild of late. Minnesota has killed 18 of the past 20 penalties it has taken, and has not taken a penalty in two of its past four games.
"Power plays are power plays, we face a different one every night, and he would have too on the kill," Carter said. "You kind of know what other teams are running, and what you have to do to kill it. In terms of up-ice pressure and things like that, I think he'll grab it real quick."
Stoll said he's already picked up on some similarities, which could expedite his transition.
"It's a lot of similar reads and plays that we did in LA, so hopefully that will be instinctive for me," Stoll said. "Hopefully it's tonight, and I get that right way."
Here is the Wild's projected lineup:
Jason Zucker – Mikko Koivu – Thomas Vanek
Zach Parise – Mikael Granlund – Jason Pominville
Nino Niederreiter – Charlie Coyle – Justin Fontaine
Chris Porter – Jarret Stoll – Ryan Carter
Ryan Suter – Jared Spurgeon
Marco Scandella – Jonas Brodin
Nate Prosser – Matt Dumba