| "This is about a guy who deserves a shot," said Wild assistant general manager Tom Lynn about the call up of Erik Reitz. (cr. Kirk Sides) |
The Minnesota Wild recalled defenseman Erik Reitz from the Houston Aeros on Thursday. Reitz will meet the team in Calgary prior to the game against the Flames on Friday night. The rugged defenseman has been a staple on the Aeros blueline for the past four seasons, including this year, in which he ranks second among Aeros blueliners in scoring with five goals and 23 assists.
But it’s his size, toughness and positional skills displayed in Houston that earned his call-up this time around. He is plus two in 71 games with 137 penalty minutes. Reitz was called up to the Wild in December of 2003, but he did not play and was reassigned within a day.
Standing at 6-foot-1, and weighing in at 210 pounds, Reitz can hopefully replace some of what has been missing since the trade of Willie Mitchell on March 9. In the 12 games since that date, the Wild’s top-ranked penalty kill unit has given up 14 power play goals. In five of those games, the opponent has two power play tallies, something that happened only five times prior to the trade.
However, Tom Lynn, the Wild’s assistant general manager said this call up has nothing to do with the current state of the team.
“He’s been a warrior all year long in Houston,” said Lynn about the decision to call up Reitz as opposed to a forward. “The coaches have been saying for a couple months that he’s been their best and most consistent defenseman. It’s really a call based on him deserving to get a shot up here. It’s not a comment on the current lineup so much as adding a guy who deserves it.”
With a groin injury sidelining Filip Kuba’s for an undetermined length of time, Reitz will have ample opportunity to crack the Wild lineup with five games remaining in the season.
“After the trade deadline is when you have the opportunity to expand on the roster, and this is the time when you have the ability to give guys a shot,” said Lynn. “They may not play all the games but they get to experience it and when they’re in there, they’re very excited.”
The Detroit, Michigan native was originally drafted by the Wild in the sixth round of the 2000 NHL Entry Draft, the first the Wild ever took part in. Reitz is one of three players selected by the Wild in that draft that is still with the organization. Marian Gaborik and Nick Schultz, the first two picks in club history, are the others.
Reitz will wear number 56 with the Wild, becoming the first Minnesota player to wear that number.