Some tough news hit the Minnesota Wild organization today, as four Iowa Wild players entered the AHL’s COVID-19 protocol, per the team, including center Mason Shaw, who’s gotten into two games with the Wild this season and was a potential call-up option for the team in the coming days.
It’s apparent at this stage that the Minnesota Wild won’t be playing in the Winter Classic on January 1 with a full squad. Center Joel Eriksson Ek is out with an upper-body injury, and head coach Dean Evason confirmed earlier this week that he won’t play. Captain Jared Spurgeon is on injured reserve, listed as week-to-week with a lower-body injury. He won’t be in either.
Now with defenseman Jonas Brodin entering COVID protocol yesterday, it became apparent that the Wild will need depth options in the coming days to continue to field a competitive team. There’s also the very viable concern of more Wild members entering COVID protocol – they’re one of the very lucky teams who have just one COVID-related absence as of now.
It’s important to note that Minnesota still stands in pretty good shape right now. Young Calen Addison and Jordie Benn are legitimate NHL options who can fill in for Brodin and Spurgeon on the back-end, and assigning more minutes to players like Ryan Hartman and Frederick Gaudreau down the middle can help alleviate Eriksson Ek’s absence.
But ahead of the Winter Classic, one of the most-talked-about and most-watched regular-season games of the year, it’s concerning. Over the past few weeks, the hockey world’s seen seemingly endless times how quickly situations like this can devolve.
It’s what makes the news out of Iowa so concerning. Minnesota still has quality depth options available for recall, including forwards Matt Boldy, Kyle Rau, Adam Beckman, Connor Dewar, and defensemen Dakota Mermis and Kevin Czuczman. If the COVID situation worsens in Iowa, however, it could seriously affect Minnesota’s ability to construct a competitive roster for the Winter Classic.