The Minnesota Wild are itching to put last night’s 4-1 loss way, way behind them as they take on the Philadelphia Flyers in the second game of a back-to-back. Former No. 1 goalie Niklas Backstrom will receive the nod in net again tonight, meaning Johan Gustafsson–a young rookie the Wild brass clearly has absolutely zero confidence in at the moment–will once again have to sit and look pretty on the bench. He needs playing time, and Backstrom can’t seem to collect a win to save his life, but that’s another article entirely.
In preparation for Philly’s modern-day “Broadstreet Bullies”, the team has recalled red-headed fireball Stephane Veilleux from Iowa of the American Hockey League, sending down rookie Erik Haula in return. Veilleux, selected 93rd overall by the Wild in the third round of the 2001 NHL Entry Draft, has notched 46 goals and 55 assists for 101 points and 323 penalty minutes in 470 career NHL games with Minnesota, Tampa Bay and New Jersey. The Canadian winger has played 10 games with Minnesota this season, and has collected three goals and five assists for eight points and 19 penalty minutes in 20 games with Iowa in between call-ups.
Former Minnesota Golden Gopher Erik Haula has also played 10 games with the big club this season, dishing two helpers and adding a plus-3 rating. In 20 games with the Baby Wild this season, Haula has scored seven goals and seven assists for 14 points in his first season as a professional hockey player. He currently is tied for first in power play goals for the Iowa Wild and ranks third in goals and total point scoring. And to think he was drafted in the final round of the 2009 NHL Entry Draft! There’s no question his selection was nothing short of a brilliant move by Assistant GM Brent Flahr and his scouting staff.
Speaking of brilliant moves, Mathew Dumba is safe from any extra discipline after kneeing forward Erik Karlsson in Canada’s 3-0 loss to Sweden the other day in pre-WJHC tournament action. Granted, the brilliant part merely sarcastically reflects the stupidity of his action. It was anything but brilliant, and he should consider himself very lucky. He may be tight with head coach Brent Sutter, but he may be on a short leash from now on. Regardless, Dumba is a professional, and should be able to move past this particular incident without any trouble. Keep your eyes on this kid when the tournament kicks off on Thursday, December 26th.