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  • Wild Weekly Preview: October 3rd-9th Edition


    With a week to go in preseason, the Minnesota Wild coaching staff has narrowed down the remaining number of attendees to legitimate roster hopefuls. It makes for an exciting climax to training camp, especially with an interesting mix of size, youth, talent and potential in the remaining fringe players.

    The Minnesota Wild are coming off a thrilling 3-1 victory over the Eric Staal-less Carolina Hurricanes on Sunday evening. The 'Canes' longtime former captain made them pay, too, setting up Charlie Coyle for the game-tying tally and following with a goal on a delayed penalty to Carolina. The Zach Parise-Staal-Coyle line was impressive, but each line had moments of brilliance, particularly the third line featuring prized rookie Joel Eriksson Ek.

    Centering Jason Pominville and Jason Zucker , the 2015 20th overall pick played a big, confident game, which only got better with each hop of the boards. He was strong on the puck, threw his weight around in impressive fashion, played a full 200-foot game and topped it all off with a nifty interception off a turnover behind the net, dishing a gorgeous assist on a Zucker goal for the game's final goal. His linemates, and head coach Bruce Boudreau, have done nothing but sung his praises, and the young Swede is expected to play the preseason's final two games, as well.

    Yes - the decision on whether to keep or reassign the top prospect back to Sweden looks to come all the way down to the wire. The intriguing scenario to watch is where Minnesota wants him to play. If coaches and management agree EE is too good to play on the Wild's fourth line, yet can't outplay Eric Haula for No. 3 center, a move to Iowa or Farjestad for top line minutes makes sense.

    This Week's Schedule

    Tuesday, October 4th - Minnesota Wild @ Colorado Avalanche 8:00 PM CT (Fox Sports Go)

    Saturday, October 8th - Minnesota Wild vs Winnipeg Jets 7:00 PM CT (Fox Sports Go)

    Game of the Week

    Saturday will be the final exhibition contest before opening night, which means that's the game in which Boudreau will ice what will most likely be the most complete roster of the preseason. It will also be the last chance for roster hopefuls like Jordan Schroeder, Tomas Fleischmann, Ryan Carter, Tyler Graovac, Kurtis Gabriel, Alex Tuch and EE to impress the brass. Throw in the fact that it's a divisional rivalry and Winnipeg fans travel well, it'll be intense.

    Key Player(s) of the Week

    It's all about the fourth line center role and who steps up to claim it. As I stated above, I'd rule out EE out of the equation. Better to play top minutes at level two than very few at level one. Unless he upsets Haula, it's Sweden or Iowa for him.

    That leaves Zach Dalpe, Graovac, Schroeder and Carter in a bitter battle. Graovac's one-way deal has him on the inside track, but Dalpe is coming off his best game yet, Schroeder is knocking hard at the door and Carter is a known quantity. One of them will come out on top. Whoever does win out will make the Wild all the better. Depth is a wonderful thing, isn't it?

    Key Opponent of the Week

    Normally I'd single out an individual player here, but I have to go with Winnipeg as a whole. Saturday might as well be opening night. Both teams will be icing near complete NHL rosters and will be playing for keeps. How will EE handle a physically imposing Jets defensive corps, and will Mike Reilly, Christian Folin and Victor Bartley be up to the task of neutralizing Patrik Laine and Kyle Connor? This one's going to be fun. 

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