- Marcus Foligno will be back on the ice for the Minnesota Wild this weekend when they take on the Jets and Flames on back-to-back nights. Foligno was at practice today in a full face cage, protecting the fractured bone he suffered in a fight with John Hayden last week. Foligno expects to wear the cage for the next few weeks as his face heals.
- As expected, the Wild announced that they have made several recalls from Iowa of the AHL. Forwards Zack Mitchell, Landon Ferraro, and Luke Kunin were all recalled and should be in uniform on Friday night. The team waited until 4:00 PM CST to announce the call-ups, meaning that they will not count on Minnesota’s salary cap until Thursday.
- Despite leaving practice on Monday due to a setback, the Wild have yet to rule winger Zach Parise out of their next game on Friday, notes Dane Mizutani of the Pioneer Press. The veteran has yet to play this season due to continued back issues and has had his expected season debut delayed a couple of times already.
- The Minnesota Wild have recalled Landon Ferraro, Luke Kunin and Zack Mitchell ahead of their upcoming road trip. The Wild has been dealing with several injuries to their key forwards, and will have to rely on youth to get them through the next couple of games. The team will have to retroactively move some players to injured reserve to make room, but since Mikael Granlund hasn’t played since the opening night of the season, and Zach Parise hasn’t suited up at all, it shouldn’t be a problem. The team is 1-1-2 in what was supposed to be a contending season, but just can’t seem to get their best players on the ice.
- Wild winger Marcus Foligno is scheduled to undergo a procedure on the left side of his face, notes Rachel Blount of the Minneapolis Star-Tribune. In doing so, the team is hopeful he will be able to return to the lineup fairly quickly, albeit with a full cage on his mask. Minnesota is off until Friday so Foligno may not wind up missing too much time in the end.
The Ottawa Senators announced they are sending defenseman Thomas Chabot to the Belleville Senators of the AHL and are returning Alex Formenton to London of the OHL. That means that Erik Karlsson’s return is close and Bruce Garrioch of The Ottawa Sun writes that head coach Guy Boucher said Saturday that Karlsson could be back for Tuesday’s game against the Vancouver Canucks.
Karlsson’s return will be welcome in Ottawa, who have been without him since last year. The team leader and quarterback of their power play, the 27-year-old defenseman scored 71 points last year and averaged 26:50 minutes of ice time. However with his return, the team freed up some roster space.
Chabot was called up last week, due to multiple defensive injuries, and fared well. In two games, the 2015 first-round pick picked up an assist and had a plus/minus rating of +3. The defense had been an issue without Karlsson, who had foot surgery this offseason. Both Johnny Oduya and callup Ben Harpur were also injured prompting Chabot’s call-up. However, the team has made it clear they want Chabot to get as many minutes as possible and Belleville will provide that for the time being.
Formenton, a surprise keeper after training camp, will be returned to his junior team, the London Knights, who he played with last year before Ottawa made him the 47th pick in the draft this year. He could have played up to nine games in the NHL before his entry-level contract started, but played in just one game and only for 4:54, picking up no points. Instead his contract will slide another year.
- The Minnesota Wild also made a few transactions today, sending forwards Zach Mitchell, Christoph Bertschy, Landon Ferraro and Luke Kunin back to the Iowa Wild. All the forwards were recalled within the last day or two to help fill in holes in their lineup for their game against the Blue Jackets last night due to multiple injuries. Neither Mitchell, Bertschy or Ferraro, who formed the team’s fourth line last night, played more than six minutes in the game, but Ferraro, nonetheless, got on the scoreboard with a second-period goal assisted by Mitchell. Kunin, the team’s 2016 first-round pick, played 13:53 in his first game, but had no points. The Wild also promoted Mike Reilly, who had been demoted Saturday when Minnesota added Kunin to their roster. Reilly, played one game while in Iowa and scored a goal.
The Vegas Golden Knights have finally recalled center Vadim Shipachyov today from the Chicago Wolves, tweeted Sportsnet’s Chris Johnston. In a corresponding move, Johnston tweets that Vegas has placed Erik Haula on injured reserve after a fight with Detroit’s Tomas Tatar last night.
For Shipachyov, it’s been a long wait to make his NHL debut. Considered to be a key signing by Vegas and quite possibly one of their best playmakers on the team, Shipachyov fell into a numbers crunch with the team’s extreme defensive depth of non-waiver eligible defensemen. In hopes of making a late trade, general manager George McPhee instead decided to option the Russian center to avoid having to place one of those defensemen on waivers and lose them. The 30-year-old has played his entire career in the KHL, putting up big numbers last season for St. Petersburg with 26 goals, 50 assists and 76 points, all career-highs. He signed a two-year deal with Vegas on May 4.
Instead, while he had been optioned to Chicago in the AHL, he never played for them, having stayed in Vegas. There were reports he was upset about the situation and his agents were looking for a way out of his contract situation. McPhee later said that he had no options, although that might be debateable, however, he said he spoke to Shipachyov’s camp and explained the situation better to the KHL veteran. Now, it looks like Shipachyov will make his debut Sunday at T-Mobile Arena against the Boston Bruins.
As for Haula, the 26-year-old wing has had a goal and an assist in four games. Claimed from the Minnesota Wild in the expansion draft, Haula had 15 goals and 26 points for the Wild last season and did score his lone goal last night against the Red Wings. The speedy wing had trouble getting minutes in Minnesota despite four years with the team and then chose to sign a three-year deal with Vegas, making him the Wild’s expansion selection.
Among the rash of injury announcements out of Minnesota on Friday was that winger Charlie Coyle suffered a right fibula fracture and would miss the next six-to-eight weeks. While losing him certainly hurts, the fact he will miss that much time enabled them to place him on long-term injury reserve which freed up the cap space to bring up some replacements instead of potentially having to dress only nine forwards for their game today against Columbus.
The team wasted little time doing so, announcing the recalls of forwards Christoph Bertschy, Landon Ferraro, and Zack Mitchell from AHL Iowa and they will likely comprise their fourth line for the time being.
This will mark the third straight season that Baertschy has had a stint with Minnesota, having spent eight games combined with the team over the past two years. He spent the majority of last season in the minors, collecting 11 goals and 13 assists in 67 games.
Ferraro is in his first season with the Wild after signing with them in July. He has the most NHL experience under his belt with 75 games of experience between Detroit and Boston. He’s coming off an injury-plagued 2016-17 with the Blues where he got into just 22 games with their AHL affiliate but is off to a good start this season with a pair of assists in Iowa.
Mitchell got into 11 games with Minnesota last season but didn’t get on the scoresheet. He’s coming off a quiet 2016-17 in the minors as well as he tallied just 22 points with Iowa, well off his previous totals of 35 and 42 but the team saw enough in him to qualify him over the summer.
Even with the short-term LTIR, the Wild are fairly tight to the cap and have just over $1MM available to spend per CapFriendly but that’s enough for one more recall at some point. With Zach Parise and Mikael Granlund not yet ready to return, it will be interesting to see if they bring someone else up just to have a spare skater.
UPDATE: The team has confirmed the speculation, but things are in fact worse than anticipated. Coyle suffered a right fibula fracture, for which he underwent surgery today. His time frame is actually six-to-eight weeks, longer than estimated by Russo, and he has been placed on long-term injured reserve. The Wild needed that space, but it’s not quite over yet. Niederreiter too has been placed on IR, as he in fact did suffer a high ankle sprain, which was not expected, and will be out a minimum of three weeks. High ankle sprains can often be month-to-month injuries depending on the severity, so Niederreiter’s status will be worth constant monitoring. With now two roster spots freed up, Minnesota will be able to field a nearly-normal lineup tomorrow and in the near future, but at a steep cost. Finally, Foligno’s facial fracture is confirmed and he will miss a minimum of a week after undergoing facial reconstructive surgery tomorrow. It’s a dark day for Wild fans…
3:00PM: When the Minnesota Wild recalled first-year pro Luke Kunin from their AHL affiliate in Iowa today, it was clear that the injuries suffered in last night’s game versus the Chicago Blackhawks were potentially more serious than originally believed. The Wild were already without Mikael Granlund (ankle) and Zach Parise (back) heading into the contest, but had been making due with their deep veteran lineup. That was before disaster struck on Thursday, as Charlie Coyle, Nino Niederreiter, and Marcus Foligno joined their teammates on the injury report by the end of the night.
Michael Russo of The Athletic (subscription required) was given some early injury updates that range in their severity. It is believed that Niederreiter only sustained a sprained ankle, which Russo specifically differentiated from the feared high ankle sprain, and may even be ready to go for Saturday’s game against the Columbus Blue Jackets. Foligno suffered what looked to be a broken cheekbone courtesy of a haymaker from John Hayden after the pair dropped the gloves. A facial injury, while painful, does not limit Foligno’s playing ability, but will almost certainly keep him out of the lineup for a week or so. Coyle is likely the worst case of the three; early indications are that a Jared Spurgeon slap shot may have fractured his fibula or tibia a.k.a a broken leg. If that is the case, Russo states that it is a four-to-six week recovery and Coyle will land on the injured reserve.
As bad as that sounds, an IR-worthy injury may be exactly what the Wild need right now. If all five of Coyle, Niederreiter, Foligno, Parise, and Granlund cannot play tomorrow – a distinct possibility – the Wild will be left with just nine forwards for the game. And that is including Kunin. Defenseman Mike Reilly, who was sent down today for Kunin, is one of only two waiver-exempt players on the team, the other being forward Joel Eriksson Ek, which of course is no help. Even if the Wild could move another defenseman or goalie to the minors for a forward, they wouldn’t; they have only two goalies and six defenseman on the roster too. So, if Coyle could be placed on IR, that would at least open up another roster spot to bring the healthy forward count to ten.
No official word has come in on the statuses of the three players injured last night, with only Niederreiter lookly like a remotely possible player for tomorrow night, while last word on Parise and Granlund were expectations they would return late next week. While awaiting more information, coach Bruce Boudreau and his staff must begin preparing to square off with the Blue Jackets with maybe only nine forwards and, given their luck, maybe even less by the end of the game.
Today’s minor news and notes from around the league:
- The Florida Panthers have loaned forward Denis Malgin to the AHL’s Springfield Thunderbirds, per a team release. Malgin, 20, was not expected to play much of a role for the Panthers in 2016-17, but ended up skating in 47 games and recording 10 points. This year, however, Malgin has yet to play to suit up for any of Florida’s first three games. With 2017 first-round pick Owen Tippett in the same boat, the Panthers needed to free up some opportunity and sending Malgin back to Springfield is no surprise. The Swiss forward was nearly a point-per-game player in the minors last season and can continue honing his skills while waiting for another opportunity to arise in Florida.
- Luc Snuggerud remains sidelined after a preseason upper-body injury, but now he’ll be sitting on the sidelines in Rockford rather than Chicago. The Blackhawks announced today that the young, offensive defenseman has been reassigned to the AHL Ice Hogs. Snuggerud is no good to the ’Hawks injured, but even if he is ready to go by the end of his original three-week prognosis, Chicago has no space in the lineup for him to play next week or any time in the near future. The Nebraska-Omaha product is in his first full pro season, but if he can produce at a similar rate in the AHL as he did in the NCAA, then Chicago will have him back up sooner rather than later.
- After clearing waivers today, Calgary Flames beat reporter Wes Gilbertson says that Marek Hrivik is on his way to the AHL. The free agent addition will join the Stockton Heat, a squad already full of talented young forwards such as Hunter Shinkaruk, Mark Jankowksi, and Spencer Foo. Hrivek will not only have to find his place on the new club, but also show that he is more worthy of the next Calgary call-up than some of his younger, more exciting new teammates.
- With the Minnesota Wild facing some major injury questions up front. Marcus Foligno suffered a serious blow to the face in a fight with Chicago’s John Hayden last night, while Zach Parise and Mikael Granlund are day-to-day with lingering issues and the conditions of Charlie Coyle and Nino Niederreiter are also drawing some interest. There’s no easy solution is all five of those forwards are beyond playing condition, but for now the team has announced the call-up of rookie Luke Kunin from the AHL. Defenseman Mike Reilly was demoted to AHL Iowa to make room. Kunin, Minnesota’s 2016 first-round pick, decided to leave the University of Wisconsin after just two years to pursue his pro career and will almost certainly be rewarded with his NHL debut tomorrow. An intelligent, well-rounded center, it should come as no surprise if Kunin impresses in his role as an injury replacement and manages to keep a spot on the team going forward.
- Another Central Division team has swapped a pair of players, as the St. Louis Blues announced that forward Tage Thompson has been reassigned to the AHL’s San Antonio Rampage, with fellow forward Sammy Blais getting the call-up. The two players are about as different as can be. Thompson is a 6’5″ center from Phoenix, Arizona who was drafted by the Blues in the first round in 2016 and played the past two seasons at the University of Connecticut before jumping right into the NHL this year. Blais is a 5’10” winger from Quebec who was drafted in the sixth round in 2014 and put up outstanding numbers in the QMJHL before playing a full AHL season last year. Yet, it’s Blais getting the call after an impressive preseason and a largely invisible first four games for Thompson. As the season goes on, watch for these two to be switched in and out depending on the personnel and style needs of St. Louis.