At least there are some positives to get out of the Minnesota Wild’s current situation. With both Jared Spurgeon (injury) and Jonas Brodin (COVID) unlikely to play in the Winter Classic on Jan. 1, rookie defenseman Calen Addison will be getting his shot on the blue line in the outdoor event.
The lines are still undetermined, but considering that the team previously called up Kevin Czuczman as an extra defenseman, instead of Addison, earlier this season; Addison should be in the lineup.
Since making his NHL debut last season during a more disastrous COVID outbreak, Addison has been patrolling the blue line with power in Iowa, or sitting in the press box in Minnesota. The 21-year-old has been able to play just three games for the Wild this season (scoring one goal) but has earned nine points in 17 games for the AHL Wild. The constant back-and-forth certainly doesn’t help feeling stable in any position, but he should be battling for a consistent spot in the lineup if everything works out and as long as one regular blueliner is out.
Who truly knows what the pairings are going to be, but we might see something like this:
Goligoski - Dumba
Merrill - Kulikov
Benn - Addison
It’s tricky when your two most stable forces are out of the lineup, but knowing Evason, we’re not going to have a true idea of what player is skating with what player until the morning of.
Evason mentioned on Tuesday morning that the Wild are going to call-up at least one more forward and a defenseman as well. Maybe this will involve some new additions to the reintroduced Taxi Squads, or they will go right on the roster.
Maybe Addison will get a chance in an increased offensive role because they will need his transition ability without Brodin and Spurgeon? Or maybe they’ll play it safe and have the usual trickle-down effect of talent, keeping the familiar Merrill-Kulikov partnership and have Dumba play up as Goligoski returns to his natural left side. We’re just guessing here.
The Wild’s next game is on Jan. 1 and is the Winter Classic against the St. Louis Blues at Target Field.