These recalls come as the Wild are dealing with a major injury suffered by their most accomplished center, Joel Eriksson Ek. With Eriksson Ek out of the picture leading into the team’s playoff series next week, the Wild are exploring options to fill spots down the middle in their lineup, and Rossi is the Wild’s best center prospect.
Petan, on the other hand, is no longer a prospect, but instead a 28-year-old top-scoring AHLer. Petan leads the Wild’s AHL affiliate in scoring with 60 points in 51 games this year, and perhaps this recall is a reward for the strong play he has delivered in Iowa.
As for Rossi, the 21-year-old 2020 first-round pick saw his developmental trajectory significantly disrupted when he was diagnosed with myocarditis, a heart condition that forced him off the ice for a time. More details on Rossi’s health battle can be found in a story by The Athletic’s Michael Russo. (subscription link) Despite the fact that Rossi has not yet found success at the NHL level, what he has achieved at the AHL level and his return to hockey overall represents a major athletic accomplishment.
This season, Rossi has been a difference-maker for the AHL’s Wild, scoring 50 points in 51 games. In total, he has 103 points in 114 career contests. While he has just one point in 18 career NHL contests, the Wild are planning on Rossi becoming a top-six forward and someone they can rely on into the future.
With this recall, Rossi now has the opportunity to enter the Wild lineup and finally prove himself as an NHLer at a crucial point in Minnesota’s season. Ryan Hartman and Frederick Gaudreau are currently Minnesota’s top two NHL centers, and while they have each scored 36 points this season and are quality pivots, they’re hardly the type of dynamic, star-level centers that typically headline Stanley Cup-winning teams.
The Wild have had a strong season and have dreams that captain Jared Spurgeon will be lifting the Stanley Cup later this year. While Rossi hasn’t yet shown it on NHL ice, his AHL form lends to the idea that he could finally become the type of center the Wild have been missing for years. And if he can become that player just in time for Minnesota’s playoff run, perhaps that Stanley Cup dream could get a little bit closer to reality.