As the world is still crumbling around us, the Minnesota Wild are slowly returning to full health and removing players off of the NHL’s COVID protocol list. As of Saturday’s practice, three more players are deemed healthy enough to be around the team.
Joel Eriksson Ek, Nick Bjugstad, and Marcus Johansson has left quarantine and reported to the weekend practice. Defenseman Louie Belpedio also joined them, after being recalled.
#mnwild up to 20 players at practice this morning.— Sarah McLellan (@sarah__mclellan) February 13, 2021
As the team is hopeful to return to action on Tuesday against the Los Angeles Kings, a fuller lineup is slowly forming with more players returning from lengthy injuries as well. Mats Zuccarello has not played in a game this season after going under the knife in recovery from an arm injury, and Matt Dumba is coming back from a brief appearance after an unfortunate mid-game spill.
About six players still remain on the COVID protocol list for the Wild, but they will at least be able to ice a full 20-man lineup (hopefully) against the Kings next week. The lines and pairings might not be cemented quite yet, but the practice lines pose some threat to continuing some pre-outbreak success. The combination of Kevin Fiala, Eriksson Ek, and Zach Parise seem to be a balanced top line with the potential to score some key goals, while Kirill Kaprizov gets some defensive and forechecking help with Jordan Greenway on the opposite wing.
All in all, I’m just happy to sit down and watch the damn Wild again.