Well, the trigger has been pulled. After the Minnesota Wild’s 4-3 win over the Arizona Coyotes on Sunday afternoon, it has been reported that the team will be sending down top prospect Marco Rossi to AHL Iowa.
The official transaction will be going through on Monday, but according to The Athletic’s Michael Russo, the 21-year-old center was informed after the game, that he was going to be sent down.
But why are the Wild doing this after the young forward was projected to be such a ready asset? Rossi has been a healthy scratch for four consecutive games, and even when he has been in the lineup, the two-way phenom that we all somewhat expected, was never really evident. In 16 games this season, Rossi averaged 12:26 TOI and earned just one single assist, got 11 shots on goal, but was still productive in other ways. His defensive game is beyond what other young centers have in their toolbox, as he is a possession monster and has been decent in one zone, but has not been able to be successful in the other one that shows up more on the stat sheet.
With this move, the Wild certainly hope that Rossi can re-find that offensive production that he had last season in Iowa — he led the team with 53 points in his rookie AHL campaign — and if so, he most likely will be back on his way to St. Paul relatively soon. Or, this might be a more lengthy option and the young center will be given ample time to develop further in the minors.
After all, Rossi had a very public battle with myocarditis and he lost his entire 2020-21 season while playing overseas in Switzerland. And after working so hard to get back to full health, had an outstanding season in the AHL. But regardless, he could still be considered a year behind in development compared to his peers, because of his health issues, and him being still so young at 21 years old, there is so much time for him to develop into a full-time NHL center.
Either way, this is not the end of Rossi’s story, but just a small bump in the road after not looking too good in his first 18 big-league appearances.
Hell, with the Wild not playing until Thursday and the Iowa Wild playing a back-to-back on Tuesday and Wednesday, it might just take a couple multi-point games to have him return. We’ll just have to see what happens next.