Patrick O'Sullivan's Minnesota Wild debut was one of the most highly anticipated among all of the team's draft picks. After piling up 47 goals and 46 assists in his only season with the Houston Aeros in 2005-06, O'Sullivan was expected to challenge for a roster spot the next season. He never got that chance when he was sent with a first round draft pick to the Los Angeles Kings in exchange for Pavol Demitra.
Tomorrow night, O'Sullivan will get the chance to debut for the team that selected him in the second round of the 2003 NHL Entry Draft. He was claimed by Minnesota off waivers from the Carolina Hurricanes, where he notched one goal through 10 games this season.
"For sure, I'm excited," said O'Sullivan prior to leaving the Hurricanes today. "It's a good opportunity for me. Just speaking to (Chuck Fletcher), they know the type of player I am and the situations they want me to play in there. It's a good chance and hopefully I can take advantage of it."
Fletcher shared the news with media at today's Wild practice, while also breaking the news that Guillaume Latendresse
will be undergoing two surgeries tomorrow in the Twin Cities including the fixing of a torn labrum in his hip, and a bilateral sports hernia. He later announced that Casey Wellman would be reassigned to Houston of the American Hockey League to make room for O'Sullivan.
"He's a skilled hockey player," said Fletcher of O'Sullivan. "He's scored goals everywhere he's played from Mississauga, the Under 17 program in Ann Arbor. Houston, he had a terrific season there. He scored goals in Edmonton. He's a player that's still young. He can skate. He can handle the puck. He can shoot the puck. Right now, it seems like a real logical fit for our team."
That's especially true with Latendresse expected to miss a large chunk of time. Fletcher didn't give a timetable for his return, but indicated that he's "hopeful" that the player who tallied 25 goals for Minnesota last year can return by the end of the regular season.
"It's certainly disappointing," said Fletcher. "He was a terriffic goal scorer for us last year. He was a big body, a guy that could get to the net and score at even strength."
Head Coach Todd Richards plans to play O'Sullivan on the wing, but he hasn't decided what line he'll join to start. The obvious thinking is that he'd join the second line of Matt Cullen
and Cal Clutterbuck
, now that Wellman has been assigned to Houston.
"We'll see where he fits," said Richards. "I think he's one of those players with the skill set that he has, he's got to be playing the top two lines and power play. But again, this is going to be his first game, and he'll be jumping right in. Whether we ease him into it, we'll have to see how the game is going."