The Minnesota Wild were incredibly shorthanded on Tuesday night’s return to the ice against the Los Angeles Kings, and boy did they look like it. Fortunately, help is on the way.
Head coach Dean Evason confirmed to reporters that defensemen Jared Spurgeon and Ian Cole and forwards Nick Bonino and Nico Sturm will all make their return from COVID and/or injury for Thursday night’s game against the Anaheim Ducks.
Dean Evason says #mnwild defensemen Jared Spurgeon and Ian Cole and forwards Nick Bonino and Nico Sturm will return tomorrow vs. the #Ducks— Michael Russo (@RussoHockey) February 17, 2021
Hunt and some of the other guys cleared later in the week will fly at some point to join the team on trip
Bonino, Sturm and Cole had been removed from the NHL’s COVID protocol on Tuesday and have been practicing with the team since then. Spurgeon has been off the pandemic list since last Saturday but had been easing back into action after suffering a concussion during the Wild’s last game before their schedule pause on February 2nd against the Colorado Avalanche.
Considering how out of sorts the Wild looked in their 4-0 debacle against the Kings, it’s got to be nice to get some defensive and center depth back in the lineup - not to mention their captain.
Evason also told reporters that he was pleased with the play of prospects Calen Addison and Dakota Mermis, both of whom made their NHL debut against the Kings, so expect to see them stay in the lineup for at least the time being as Jonas Brodin and Carson Soucy are still on the COVID protocol. Louie Belpedio and Matt Bartkowski, not so much. The Athletic’s Michael Russo tweeted that it’s likely Spurgeon and Cole will take the spots from the Wild’s third pairing from Tuesday night.
Evason was very happy with Dakota Mermis’ game last night, so sounds like Bartkowski/Belpedio will come out for Cole/Spurgeon #mnwild— Michael Russo (@RussoHockey) February 17, 2021
With four players returning to the active roster, that leaves only Brodin, Soucy, forward Victor Rask and goaltender Cam Talbot on the COVID list, meaning Kaapo Kahkonen is likely to get another start.
Stay tuned to Hockey Wilderness for all the roster and line pairing updates ahead of the 9 p.m. puck drop Thursday night in Anaheim.