According to a tweet from Michael Russo of the Star Tribune, forward Pierre-Marc Bouchard and defenseman Justin Falk are missing from the Minnesota Wild’s Saturday morning practice. Russo tweeted, “No Pierre-Marc Bouchard or Justin Falk at #mnwild practice”. He was, however, quick to add “#mnwild assistant GM Brent Flahr says Bouchard and Falk are feeling under the weather. If Butch can’t play, team needs a fwd from farm.”
This isn’t to say a trade couldn’t be in the works, either. Pittsburgh GM Ray Shero was in attendance at Thursday night’s Wild/Avalanche game in St. Paul and it’s no big secret that the Pens are looking for a top-6 winger—Bouchard easily fits that description. It’s also known that Minnesota scouts were at the nightmarish Ottawa/Pittsburgh game that saw the end of the season for one of the NHL’s best defensemen in Erik Karlsson. So, Minnesota and Pittsburgh are likely still trying to hammer out a deal.
Even with an earlier tweet saying Cal Clutterbuck was practicing with the team, it looks like a call-up is quite imminent for Minnesota. A call-up could most certainly mean either the season debut of Jason Zucker, or the NHL debut of Swedish forward Johan Larsson. However, Charlie Coyle could just as easily be recalled for his second stint with the team this week.
In other news, Russo also tweeted that Suter and Spurgeon are back together on the top pairing, while Swedish sensation Jonas Brodin is paired with Nate Prosser in practice. I find it intriguing, considering Brodin’s play has certainly been worthy of top pairing playing time. Maybe a trade involving Bouchard and Falk isn’t out of the question. However, it’s likely that Coach Yeo is just trying to extend the depth of his three defensive pairings. Gone Puck Wild will keep you informed as the situation progresses.
Minnesota may have to recall two players, likely Zucker and Larsson, at this point. Both Jason Zucker and Johan Larsson have been recalled by the Minnesota Wild from the Houston Aeros. One to cover Bouchard, and one in case Clutterbuck isn’t good to go for tomorrow’s showdown with the Red Wings. It also doesn’t hurt to get some fresh legs–and new blood–in the lineup. In order to recall both, however, goaltender Josh Harding would need to be was placed on IR.
Minnesota desperately needs to work out the scoring problems, and Zucker and Larsson could certainly help with that. I’ve been wanting to see what a second line of Zucker-Granlund-Setoguchi might do together and, if Butch can’t play tomorrow night, they might as well give it a shot. Plus, a third line of Mitchell-Brodziak-Larsson, or Larsson-Brodziak-Clutterbuck, doesn’t look bad, either.
Having the kids in the lineup, and seeing how they handle the NHL pace, may help the Wild brass determine whether or not they can afford to trade Setoguchi or Bouchard to make way for the future. The bottom line is that Minnesota needs to do something to get the train going again; adding both Zucker and Larsson to the lineup could be just the ticket to get it rolling.