The preseason has come to a close, and the regular season starts this week - NHL hockey is back and it's here to stay, folks!
With Zac Dalpe on waivers and Ryan Carter released from his PTO, the opening night roster looks set. The biggest news? It appears both Christoph Bertschy and 2015 20th overall pick Joel Eriksson Ek have made the Minnesota Wild roster...for now. EE inclusion at the start of the season isn't a huge surprise, but Bertschy has carved out a place for himself ahead of the likes of Carter, Dalpe, Tyler Graovac, Jordan Schroeder, Kurtis Gabriel and Alex Tuch. Blocking shots, scoring goals - Bertschy has a place in Minnesota's bottom six for the time being. He's joined by EE, who will likely get a full nine-game cup of coffee before either being returned to Farjestad in Sweden, sent down to Iowa or perhaps earning himself a full-time gig with the big club. Whatever happens, the big young pivot is fun to watch and it won't be long before he becomes an integral part of the Minnesota attack.
Other notable names still on the Wild roster include defensemen Mike Reilly and Christian Folin and third goaltender Alex Stalock. Dalpe may still stay up with the club should he pass through waivers unclaimed. At least it gives Minnesota GM Chuck Fletcher some roster flexibility.
This Week's Schedule
Thursday, October 13th - Minnesota Wild @ St. Louis Blues 7:00 PM CT (FS-MW, FS-N, FS-WI)
Saturday, October 15th - Minnesota Wild vs Winnipeg Jets 6:00 PM CT (SN360, SN1, FS-N, FS-WI)
Game of the Week
After a 5-1 trouncing by Minnesota in Saturday night's preseason matinee, the Jets will be looking to avenge themselves. Thing got to a boiling point as the game came to a close, and it will undoubtedly take very little to get the blood pumping yet again. Winnipeg travels well, and both clubs have exciting players that can give goalies fits. It'll be fun.
Key Player(s) of the Week
Saturday night gave Wild fans a lot to be excited about. The top line of Zach Parise, Eric Staal and Charlie Coyle showed flashes of dominating potential, Devan Dubnyk looked sharp in goal, and the Minnesota defense put the puck on and in the net like there was no tomorrow. Anyone can step up at any given time with this new-look roster, and that's both exciting for fans and unnerving for opposing teams.
Key Opponent of the Week
Minus a few shots on goal, Patrik Laine was relatively silent Saturday night. Don't expect many games like that from the former second overall pick, particularly this Saturday. Preseason is over and all bets are off for the Calder Trophy heavy favorite. The hulking Laine is one of the best young goal scorers to enter the league since Alex Ovechkin, and should be good for at least 35 goals and 60 points this season. Will it be enough to win the Calder? Hard to say. Auston Matthews looks sharp coming off of the World Cup of Hockey, and Laine's Finnish teammate, Jesse Puljujarvi, will be playing alongside a healthy Connor McDavid. If nothing else, it's going to be one very fun race to watch.