Tom Gilbert tweaked his groin during Wednesday night’s Minnesota Wild scrimmage, and although head coach Mike Yeo said he could have returned, the club kept him out of the game for precautionary measures.
The mild injury to the veteran defenceman reinforces the need for the Wild coaches to delicately balance the workload among their blue liners to help avoid further injuries. Given the shortened and condensed season with a brief training camp, groin strains will be a common injury across the league. With every game so crucial to the playoff chances, the Wild need to avoid having any player sit out with a nagging injury, let alone their already thin blue line.
Currently, Marco Scandella is on the shelf with injury, as is the youngster, Jonas Brodin. Gilbert will be a vital part of the Wild’s success on defense and with his track record of being a dependable blue liner to play in most regular season games, his services will be of high regard.
Late last season Gilbert was playing in upwards of 30 minutes a game, again thanks to a beat up Wild blue line. With many players not used to the high pace of regular season play thanks to the lockout, avoiding further tweaks and strains early on this season that will sideline players for a handful of games is beyond important. Recently, Calgary Flames captain Jarome Iginla missed the first three days of their training camp with a groin strain, reinforcing the point that we’ll likely see more of these creep up in the next month.
It’s uncertain as to how long Gilbert will be out, if he’ll miss any playing time at all. Steven Kampfer is the front runner to take his place in the lineup and prospect Matthew Dumba is said to have an outside chance. Given he’s only 18-years old, Dumba is best suited returning to his junior club in Red Deer and further developing his game and focusing on his strength. It’s a big jump from playing against teenagers to having to try and move a 25-year old man.
Paul Mara is currently in Houston and is another option, but is currently serving a 3-game suspension for leaving the bench to take part in an altercation.
Should the Wild be forced into acquiring a defenceman, there are several trade partners around the league. We’ll look at who those partners could be tomorrow, right here at Gone Puck Wild.