The Minnesota Wild have officially announced that forward Mike Rupp has been sent down to Iowa of the American Hockey League for a brief conditioning stint. Defenseman Keith Ballard (upper-body injury) has also been placed on Injured Reserve.
Rupp has yet to play a game this season after having off-season knee surgery. Originally acquired from the New York Rangers in the Darroll Powe/Nick Palmieri trade last season, the 6’5″ 235-pound forward notched a goal and three assists for four points, a plus-1 rating and 67 penalty minutes in 32 games with the Wild last season. The 33-year old Cleveland, Ohio native has scored 54 goals and 44 assists for 98 points and 832 penalty minutes in 597 career NHL games with New Jersey, Phoenix, Columbus, Pittsburgh, New York and Minnesota.
Rupp will likely play Wednesday and Saturday nights as the Iowa Wild take on Chicago and San Antonio in the first two of a six-game home stand.
Iowa is led in scoring by defenseman Brian Connelly with 10 helpers for as many points and a negative-3 rating in 11 games. The forward corps is led by Jason Zucker (four goals and four assists) and rookie Erik Haula (three goals and five assists) with eight points apiece. Brett Bulmer joins Zucker as Minnesota’s two remaining 2010 second round selections are tied for possession of the team’s goal scoring lead with four biscuits in the basket. Wild fans know what Zucker is capable of, but this could be a big year for Bulmer’s development, as well.
In net, Minnesota’s minor league team is as deep as ever. So far, Darcy Kuemper has posted a 3-4-0 record with a 2.93 goals against average and .912 save percentage. North American pro rookie Johan Gustafsson hasn’t been bad either, notching a 3-1-0 record with a 2.45 goals against average, a .920 save percentage and a shutout. Wild GM Chuck Fletcher’s prospect pool seems deeper than a magician’s top hat with every new surprise young stud. This year is no different, and Gustafsson could prove to be a big reason why.