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Three things: Wild at Jets in exhibition opener

A trio of storylines to follow as Minnesota opens preseason schedule in Winnipeg on Monday night

by Dan Myers @DanMyers / Wild.com
Minnesota Wild at Winnipeg Jets

Puck drop: 7 p.m.

Watch: NHL Network (joined in progress at 8:30 p.m.)

Listen: KFAN 100.3 FM, Wild Radio Network, Wild NHL App

Follow: @mnwild; GameCenter

The Wild opens the 2018-19 preseason where last season ended, at Bell MTS Place in Winnipeg. The Jets won the first ever playoff meeting between the rivals last spring, defeating the Wild in five games.

Here are three things Wild.com's Dan Myers will be keeping an eye on during the game Monday night:


1. Hammond in the crease

Goaltender Andrew Hammond was signed during the summer to provide Alex Stalock some competition for backup duties to Devan Dubnyk. He'll get his first chance to make a good first impression on Monday, as the veteran is expected to get the start between the posts.

"The proof will be in the games and when we lower the numbers," Boudreau said. "Right now, it's hard when you have 60 guys; it's just hard to keep track of everybody."

Hammond, who like Stalock, is on a two-way contract this season, says he's not focused on the roster battle himself, but rather on controlling what he can control on the ice.

"Whether it be here or in the American Hockey League, wherever I may end up, this just kind of gives me an opportunity to establish myself again and prove that I still have a lot of game left in the tank," Hammond said. "That's what I'm coming here to do, to prove that I'm still a very capable goaltender."

Video: Boudreau pregame at Winnipeg


2. Greenway at the pivot

Rookie forward Jordan Greenway has been skating on a line with Joel Eriksson Ek and Charlie Coyle during the early days in camp, but it's been Greenway -- not Eriksson Ek -- who has been playing center.

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Greenway came through the ranks as a right wing but saw considerable time at center last season at Boston University, impressing Terriers coach David Quinn to the point where Greenway remained down the middle once he returned from the Olympics.

It hasn't been decided whether Greenway will stay at center long term, but the Wild knows Eriksson Ek can move back there in a pinch, so the preseason is good time to see what Greenway can do there.

"The pros are it's hard to find big centers that can make big plays," Boudreau said. "You can sit there and say, 'Let's wait until the second year,' but let's not wait until the second year; let's see how he can do in training camp and in the preseason."

Video: Wild pregame at Winnipeg


3. Battle on the blue line

Minnesota's top-4 defense is set, with Ryan Suter, Jared Spurgeon, Jonas Brodin and Matt Dumba making up the first two pairings. 

Nick Seeler and Greg Pateryn are the favorites to land the final defensive pairing.

But beyond that, there is a good battle shaping up for a seventh and a potential eighth defenseman spot. 

Nate Prosser has manned that role for years and is a trusted veteran. The Wild knows what it has in the Elk River native, and that's a steady, smart, gritty blueliner that is capable of jumping into the lineup at a moment's notice and performing capably.

But the Wild must also decide on what it will do with guys like Gustav Olofsson, Ryan Murphy and Louie Belpedio. 

Olofsson, a lefty, is on a one-way contract and would require waivers to get to Iowa if he doesn't make the NHL club. Murphy and Belpedio are on two-ways, but performed solidly in limited action a year ago. 

Seeler and Pateryn will be Minnesota's "top pair" on Monday, while Olofsson, Murphy, Belpedio and Matt Bartkowski are pencilled in as the other four defensemen making the trip. 

"The proof will all come out in the preseason games," Boudreau said. "A lot of our defensemen will probably play three or four games each. They will make the team on their own merit, or they will not make the team on their own merit."


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