The Colton Gillies era in Minnesota has come to an end. Gillies found out this morning that he has been claimed by the Columbus Blue Jackets, and he is headed to Ohio now. The Blue Jackets are in action tonight against the San Jose Sharks, but it is unknown whether or not Gillies will be in the lineup.
Gillies was the Wild’s first round pick in 2007, when the Wild gave up a second round pick to move ahead three slots in the first round and take the winger out of Saskatoon. Gillies was on the Wild’s roster for the entirety of the 2008-2009 season, but he was unable to establish himself as a reliable scorer. He spent the better part of the next two seasons in Houston, where he had a strong regular season last year, and and an even better playoff performance.
Gillies appeared ready to make his mark in the NHL this year, and the Wild signed him to a two-year, one-way deal. But the offense didn’t come as he notched just two assists in 37 games.
Many around the Wild will be sad to see Gillies go. He was a hard-worker on the ice, and one of the nicest guys off the ice. Many fans who interacted with him at Wild community events saw that first hand.
But now Gillies is a Blue Jacket, and the Wild have business to take care of against the Blues tonight. The Wild will be looking for its first road win since beating the Phoenix Coyotes on December 10.
Josh Harding is going to get the start for the Wild tonight. After Harding was pulled after four goals in less than 40 minutes against Chicago, there was speculation that rookie Matt Hackett may get the start. But Head Coach Mike Yeo has shown a willingness to let guys redeem themselves after rocky performances, and usually that strategy has worked.
The only lineup change expected for tonight is putting Mike Lundin back on the blueline in place of Greg Zanon.
The two points on the line tonight are big for the Wild, which sits one point ahead of Dallas and two points ahead of Colorado. The Stars and Avs face each other tonight, so at least one of those teams will gain two points. On Thursday, every game that featured two Western Conference teams went to overtime and resulted in three points being handed out. Well, every game except the Wild and Hawks.