After some roster trimming, the Iowa Wild have finalized their opening night lineup. Defenseman Colton Jobke and forward Josh Caron were assigned to the ECHL’s Orlando Solar Bears, while goalie Mark Guggenberger, forward Marshall Everson and defensemen Blake Kessel and Nicholas Rioux were released by the team.
According to the team’s website:
The Iowa Wild’s Opening Night roster is composed of three goalies, eight defensemen and 14 forwards.
Iowa Wild Opening Night Roster:
Goalies: Darcy Kuemper, Johan Gustafsson, John Curry
Defensemen: Carl Sneep, Jon Landry, Kyle Medvec, Brian Connelly, Corbin Baldwin, Steven Kampfer, Jonathon Blum and Tyler Cuma.
Forwards: Tyler Graovac, Erik Haula, Jake Dowell, Kris Foucault, Jason Zucker, Brett Bulmer, Raphael Bussieres, Stephane Veilleux, Chad Rau, Warren Peters, David Steckel, Carson McMillan, Taylor Matson, Zack Phillips.
Top NHL face-off specialist David Steckel joins the organization after being released from his pro tryout agreement with Minnesota. The possibility is still there for him to sign with an NHL organization should one pursue him later this season.
In the case of an injury, there are several talented youngsters waiting to be called up, including first round picks Blum, Phillips and Cuma, second rounders Zucker–the likeliest first call-up–Bulmer and Bussieres, and intriguing seventh rounders Tyler Graovac and Erik Haula.
In net, either Kuemper or Gustafsson could see time up with the big club this season. Last year, Kuemper would play in parts of six games with Minnesota, notching a 1-2 record with a .916 save percentage and 2.08 goals against average. Gustafsson starts his North American pro rookie season as one of the best goaltenders in the world yet to play a regular season AHL/NHL game.
In two seasons with Lulea of the Swedish Elite League, the Wild’s sixth round pick in 2010 would notch a 1.69 goals against average and .933 save percentage in 62 regular season games. Perhaps his biggest moment was backstopping Sweden to a 1-0 shutout overtime victory over Russia in the gold medal game of the 2012 World Junior Hockey Championships. He was joined on that championship team by captain and fellow Wild 2010 draftee Johan Larsson, and 2013 NHL All-Rookie defenseman Jonas Brodin.
Head Coach Kurt Kleinendorst has a good problem on his hands when he has to decide whether or not to start a former Canadian Hockey League Goaltender of the Year (Kuemper) or an international gold medalist (Gustafsson). The answer to that question starts when the Wild officially drop the puck on the season with their home opener against Oklahoma City on Saturday, October 12th.
Follow Dakota Case at Twitter.com/Dakota_case