Eden Prairie native Chad Rau won’t be the 13th Minnesotan to play for the Wild, yet. Rau was reassigned to Houston today as the Wild skates against the Calgary Flames tonight at the Scotiabank Saddledome.
The move frees up a roster spot, which will be filled by defenseman Justin Falk, who will return to the lineup after missing 11 games with an upper-body injury. Falk was placed on the injured reserve on November 27.
With Mikko Koivu, Devin Setoguchi, Guillaume Latendresse and Casey Wellman out of the lineup with injuries, the Wild is expected to dress seven defensemen tonight against the Flames.
After two games with the Minnesota Wild, Jeff Taffe has been reassigned to the Houston Aeros of the American Hockey League.
Taffe had an assist in each game with the Wild while skating on a line with Mikko Koivu and Dany Heatley. The Hastings, Minn., native was the fourth Minnesotan to skate for the Wild this season and 11th all-time.
The move likely means that Cal Clutterbuck is ready to come back to the lineup on Tuesday when the NHL-leading Wild travels to Winnipeg, and tries to extend its win-streak to eight games against the Jets.
In somewhat of a surprise move, the Minnesota Wild has placed center Eric Nystrom on waivers. Nystrom has until Friday at 11:00 a.m. to clear, and if he does, he’ll be assigned to the Houston Aeros of the AHL.
Nystrom, who is in the second year of a three-year contract with Minnesota, was slated to center the Wild’s fourth line with Brad Staubitz and Colton Gillies on the wings. But a strong camp performance by rookie Brett Bulmer coupled with the waiver pickup of Nick Johnson last week gave the Wild a pair of young and gritty wingers. The Wild was also faced with having to make a decision on Matt Kassian, who is close to coming off injured reserve. Had he been sent to Houston, Kassian also would have to clear waivers, and the Wild probably wasn’t willing to lose his toughness and size. Kassian could very well be in the season opening lineup due to the suspension of Staubitz.
In his first season with Minnesota, Nystrom picked up four goals and eight assists with a -16 rating while playing in all 82 games for the second straight year.
The news keeps on coming from the Minnesota Wild Hockey Operations department, with the latest announcement made at lunchtime Wednesday: the Wild has signed restricted free agent Colton Gillies to a two-year contract.
The 22-year-old left wing was a major factor in the Houston Aeros’ run to the Calder Cup Finals this spring. He tied the team lead with seven playoff goals and ranked third on the club with 12 points (7-5=12) in 24 playoff games. The 6-4, 208-pound winger posted 26 points (11-15=26) and 82 penalty minutes in 64 regular season games with the Aeros in 2010-11.
Gillies also played seven games with the Wild, scoring one goal, a tally in the Wild’s 5-3 win over Dallas in the season finale. For the first time in his Wild career, he has not been asked to skate in this July’s Wild Development Camp for prospects. Gillies will come into this fall’s training camp looking to stay with the big club, having previously skated 45 games with the Wild in the 2008-09 season, recording seven points (2-5=7). The native of White Rock, B.C., was Minnesota’s first-round pick (No. 16 overall) in the 2007 NHL Entry Draft.
The third head coach in Minnesota Wild history will be named at an Xcel Energy Center press conference on Friday at 11:00 a.m. The announcement will be streamed live on Wild.com.
The Wild has been in the market for a head coach since Todd Richards was relieved of his duties a day after the conclusion of the 2010-2011 season. After an extensive search, General Manager Chuck Fletcher is ready to make his announcement.