Cutdown Monday has finally arrived, and as promised, the Minnesota Wild has essentially revealed the group of players that it will bring to Finland following Thursday's preseason game.
Today, the Wild sent 14 players to the waiver wire or to Houston, where training camp begins today. That leaves the current roster at 28, but includes injured players Pierre-Marc Bouchard
, Josh Harding
and James Sheppard. Bouchard did practice with the team today, and is expected to join the team in Finland, but he is not likely to play there. The players reporting to the Aeros will be:
C - Cody Almond
RW - Jon DiSalvatore
RW - Robbie Earl
LW - Colton Gillies
LW - Petr Kalus
C - Carson McMillan
C - Warren Peters
C - Chad Rau
D - Tyler Cuma
D- Jamie Fraser
D - Maxim Noreau
D - Nate Prosser
D - Jared Spurgeon
G - Matthew Hackett
DiSalvatore, Earl, Peters and Kalus are all on waivers, and can't officially be assigned to Houston until they clear.
The most notable names still with the big club are Matt Kassian
, Casey Wellman, Drew Bagnall
, Marco Scandella
and Justin Falk
The Wild is now carrying nine defensemen, with Bagnall, Falk and Scandella joining one-way contract holders Cam Barker, Brent Burns, Nick Schultz, Clayton Stoner
, Greg Zanon and Marek Zidlicky. The team is expected to bring eight blueliners to Finland, so the extra is for insurance with Barker nursing a hip injury. Wild General Manager Chuck Fletcher does not expect Barker to miss significant time and expects to send one more defenseman down to Houston before Thursday's departure.
"We've had good performances by some of our young defenseman," said Fletcher. "Even Nate Prosser
and Tyler Cuma
had very good camps as well. I really like the depth on our blue line and there are several candidates that look like they can play games."
Holding onto Wellman and Kassian puts the Wild's forward numbers at 16, but in essence, 14 due to Bouchard and Sheppard's injuries.
Assuming Bouchard can't play in Finland, the forwards for those two games will come from: Kyle Brodziak
, Andrew Brunette, Cal Clutterbuck
, Matt Cullen
, Martin Havlat, Kassian, Chuck Kobasew, Mikko Koivu
, Guillaume Latendresse
, John Madden, Antti Miettinen, Eric Nystrom, Brad Staubitz and Wellman.
"We felt he's been one of our better players in camp," Fletcher said of Wellman. "He deserves the opportunity to stay for another day, and we'll see what the lineup is tomorrow in Columbus and continue to make evaluations. We certainly don't have any intention of keeping him around long-term if he's going to be an extra forward."
As for goaltending, Anton Khudobin moves into the backup role after the knee injury to Josh Harding
. He and Nik Backstrom will be the goaltenders in Finland, while German goaltender Dennis Endras
will join the team as the third keeper for the first two games against Carolina. He will not return to Minnesota, however.
When asked if he's comfortable with the goaltending situation as it stands, Fletcher was non-commital.
"We're continuing to make adjustments every day," he said. "Right now, that's what we have...[Khudobin) battles and plays hard and he's had a pretty good camp so far."