Minnesota Wild forward Stephane Veilleux has cleared waivers and been reassigned to Iowa of the American Hockey League. In 10 games with Minnesota this season, he has amassed 11 hits and six penalty minutes.
With Veilleux in Des Moines, room has been made for youngster Charlie Coyle to rejoin the Wild after missing the past 11 games with a knee sprain. Where Coyle lands in the lineup is where things get interesting.
After spending most of last season as top line right wing to left winger Zach Parise and center Mikko Koivu, Coyle may find himself centering Minnesota’s “top” line tomorrow night against the Montreal Canadiens. As of the past few days, it appears Koivu and Parise have temporarily been split for the first time since they were put together at the start of last season. That said, here’s a look at what the lineup might look like tomorrow in St. Paul.
Parise – Coyle – Dany Heatley/Justin Fontaine
Matt Cooke – Mikael Granlund – Jason Pominville
Nino Niederreiter – Koivu – Kyle Brodziak
Torrey Mitchell – Zenon Konopka – Fontaine/Heatley
Ryan Suter – Jared Spurgeon
Marco Scandella – Nate Prosser
Clayton Stoner – Keith Ballard
If you’ll notice, it’s not your typical forward lineup. However, it gives head coach Mike Yeo the flexibility to roll all four lines in any situation. There’s a skill guy, a big guy and a guy that can crash the net and make things happen. There’s a lot to like.
On defense, it appears the Minnesota Wild are going to take their time with the Mathew Dumba decision. He’ll be a healthy scratch on Friday night as the Wild feel certain Ballard will be healthy enough to step back into the lineup. At this point, there’s no need to rush Jonas Brodin (broken cheekbone) back into the lineup with Ballard (concussion-like symptoms) ready to play.
With Ballard set to play tomorrow night, he’s been manning the point with Spurgeon on the second power play point. Forwards Heatley, Niederreiter and Granlund round out the unit up front. To read my most recent piece on Heatley, click here. The No. 1 power play unit of Suter, Pominville, Parise and Koivu is mostly intact, with Coyle slotting in the middle to complete the ensemble.
As it stands, Brodin is listed as day-to-day, while Wild forward Mike Rupp (offseason knee surgery) is still on IR and has yet to make his season debut.
It’s currently unknown who will get the start in net. However, if Josh Harding is healthy and ready to go, there’s zero doubt in my mind he’ll get the nod. In nine games this season, the 38th overall pick of the 2002 NHL Entry Draft has posted a 5-2-1 record with one shutout and a league-best .953 save percentage and 1.00 goals against average. Niklas Backstrom, whose 185 wins are the most of any Wild netminder, has struggled in comparison this season, notching a 1-1-2 record, .871 save percentage and 3.42 goals against average in six games.
For now, the lines above are just a rough draft of what we might see tomorrow night, but it’s interesting to think about nonetheless. Gone Puck Wild will keep you updated as the situation develops.