I will be the first to admit that I waited with bated breath as Marco Rossi made his AHL season debut, just a couple days after being sent down to Iowa by the Minnesota Wild, with the hope that he can rejuvenate his season and gain some confidence.
The worst-case scenario would be that the 16 NHL games he played this season and the single assist he earned during that stretch, would put him in such a mental hole that he couldn’t climb out of it even down in the minors. There would be panic in the streets of St. Paul if Rossi didn’t even produce in the AHL and we would have to move on to other top prospects to get our hopes high for the future of this hockey club.
Well, thank goodness Marco Rossi is not that bad.
In his AHL season debut on Tuesday night against the San Jose Barracuda, Rossi exploded onto the ice almost immediately. Just five minutes and 52 seconds into the first period, the 21-year-old center earned his first point of the night on a Joseph Cramarossa goal.
Rossi can be seen with possession, circling through the zone, perfectly drops it to defenseman Daemon Hunt, who gets it to an oncoming Cramarossa for the first Iowa goal. Just another display of the prospect’s excellent vision and playmaking skill.
But the points did not stop there. Rossi got his first goal of the season less than seven minutes later on the power play.
A laser. Rossi unleashed a mid-range attempt through some traffic and made San Jose pay within just seconds of the Wild power play starting. If he is shooting from that far out, and not really playing it safe, he clearly feels comfortable and confident — which is all we need to see.
And the points didn’t stop there! In the very same period, Rossi finished up his production with an assist on Sammy Walker’s eighth goal of his rookie season; again, on the power play.
For his third point in the very same period, Rossi was on the half-wall and played it well into the bumper Adam Beckman, who laid it off for Walker. Not the most impressive secondary assist, but Rossi made it clear that he is too good for the AHL after earning three points in just over 15 minutes of action.
That was it for the young center, and while points are nice, there is no doubt that the Wild will see that his plus/minus rating was zero by the end of the game, as the Barracuda almost came back with two more goals and the Wild squeaked by with a 4-3 win. Up in the big league, there was no production — except for one single assist — but he did not look all that terrible and GM Bill Guerin even praised his defensive play.
Now we just need to find a way for him to do both at the same time. He will get the chance Wednesday night as Iowa takes on San Jose again.
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