Wild head coach Mike Yeo simply laughed as some of the local media mentioned how it’s a stressful time of year.
If you somehow haven’t been on twitter or tuned into any national hockey media outlets, tomorrow is the NHL Trade Deadline.
The lighthouse spoke with Jason Pominville who joined the Wild last year on a Trade Deadline Day deal (say that ten times fast). Pominville spoke about tuning out the rumors — particularly the unfounded ones — but keeping phones close, just in case.
“Guys all tune in and have their phones ready; you never know what can happen,” Pominville said. “I think I like the situation we’re in right now and if we can do anything to help, I think everybody would be excited about it.”
According to the Bench Boss, the Wild isn’t a big player this season, especially as the team is pleased with the mix it has.
“We like the group that we have,” Yeo said. “We believe we can win with this group. We like what’s going on. These are days where, you’re always trying to improve your team. If there’s an opportunity to improve your team, of course you would do it. There’s other factors involved too… We think we have a team that can be competitive for a lot of years and we want to make sure we stay that way.”
That being said the Wild did add some depth in net, as speculated. Though it’s not a humongous big move, Minnesota acquired netminder Ilya Bryzgalov from the Edmonton Oilers in exchange for a fourth-round pick. Bryzgalov said he will do everything in his power to give the team the best chance to win.
"It's a new challenge," Bryzgalov told Oilers TV. "A new opportunity with a team battling for a playoff spot. I'm glad I have the opportunity to be on a playoff team. ... I hope we're going to make it into the playoffs and make a lot of damage out there."
That mix had a bit of fun today in its optional practice. Zach Parise, Ryan Suter, Mikael Granlund, Matt Cooke and Nate Prosser were absent — as well as Jason Zucker who is still recovering from a minor procedure he underwent over break. But the rest of the crew played a little four-on-four scrimmage followed by a three-on-three small ice battle.
In the words of the esteemed managing editor of Wild.com and former St. Cloud State Husky phenom, Mike Doyle, “if I knew the optional practice was a four-on-four scrimmage, I would go. If it was a regular practice, I’d say ‘no way in hell.’”
The sentiment was understandable as it was quite an entertaining practice to watch. Between chirping each other and going all out against one another, it looked like a good time.
Goaltender Niklas Backstrom came up with one of the more impressive plays of the morning as he was caught out of the cage in a small ice scrimmage. After he went to play the puck, it was quickly turned over and Kyle Brodziak faced a yawning net, similar to the space he had on his goal last night. As Brodziak went to shoot, Backstrom leapt across the ice, blocking the shot.
While Pominville said it was fun, but a light workout, Mikko Koivu said it was nice to simply go play around and get into a game situation — especially since the Wild don’t play again until Saturday.
Koivu returned to the lineup yesterday after missing 17 games due to an ankle fracture he suffered Jan. 4. He said the long break isn’t ideal timing.
“It’s good to getting the skating, get in shape and work on some things after being off for awhile,” Koivu said. “But at the same time you want to get back in the game and back into game-shape. I try to look at it the good way and get the positives out of it. We’re going to be playing a lot of games in a short period of time.”
In other netminder news, on the same day Darcy Kuemper was named the NHL’s Third Star of the Week, his parents took in their first game at Xcel Energy Center.
“That was very special,” Kuemper said. “The first one they came to (which was on the road) we lost so to get a win when they were here was special; one I’ll remember.”
Kuemper said it was the first time his parents have been in town and they plan on doing some fun Minnesota activities this week.
Before news broke Bryzgalov would be joining the Wild, Yeo spoke highly of Kuemper, but did say they’re going to take it day-to-day with the youngster, just as they’ve done all along.
“That said, there’s no question he’s done enough,” Yeo said of Kuemper remaining the number one goalie. “We’re going to keep giving him the opportunity to get out there and show what he’s done. We’re in large part where we are right now because of the job that he’s done. We’re aware of that.”
Be sure to follow our Trade Deadline Tracker all day tomorrow as we’ll provide updates on every trade occurring around the league.