With the NHL trade deadline less than 24 hours away, the Minnesota Wild have announced that they will be without the services of veteran center Matt Cullen for the next two games. “Cully” sustained what’s currently being called a “lower body injury” in the middle of last night’s 4-1 home loss to the St. Louis Blues. “He is going to be out the next couple games, we don’t anticipate that it is anything serious,” said Wild Head Coach Mike Yeo. “We’re hopeful that’s he’s back very quickly, having said that somebody is going to get an opportunity and a chance to step up.”
According to the Star Tribune’s Michael Russo, he expects a likely call-up of Swedish forward Johan Larsson. Larsson, the 2011-12 Swedish Elite League Rookie of the Year, made his NHL debut on February 17th, skating 14:02 of ice time in 19 shifts while firing two shots on net. In 62 games with the Houston Aeros this season, Larsson has scored 15 goals and notched 22 assists for 37 points, 38 penalty minutes and an even plus-minus rating. The second of three Minnesota Wild second round picks in 2010, he has been considered by many to be one of the best players on the team this year. If Larsson doesn’t get the call, it’ll very likely be one of Jason Zucker or Mikael Granlund. It’s almost certain the empty spot will not be filled via trade.
The Minnesota Wild has announced that they have signed 2011 seventh round pick Tyler Graovac, 19, to a three-year entry level deal. The 6’4” 203-pound Brampton, Ontario native has dominated the OHL this season with Ottawa and Belleville, scoring 38 goals and 35 assists for 73 points and 18 penalty minutes in 60 games this season. He is currently tied for fourth in the league with eight game-winning goals, ninth in goals and 18th in scoring. The big center currently leads Belleville in playoff scoring with two goals and eight assists for 10 points in six matches as the Bulls beat Mississauga 4-2 in the first round of the OHL playoffs.
While this isn’t surprising, and certainly isn’t something you’re looking for this close to the trade deadline, this is huge for Minnesota. As soon as Belleville’s playoffs are done, you can be sure the Wild brass will have Graovac sent immediately to Houston to gain some more seasoning and help them in their playoff run. He’s big, dominant and knows how to score goals—this kid is a rare talent in Minnesota’s prospect pool. Though not quite as talented as Charlie Coyle, he certainly plays a similar style of game, which makes him a very interesting tool to have in Minnesota’s belt. Graovac will likely make his NHL debut next season and is just another great example of how well Minnesota’s draft table has done the past few years.