Erik Haula’s season is officially over.
In a rematch of the 2014 Sochi Olympic Quarterfinals, Russia was not about to lose to the feisty Finns again. Washington Capitals captain Alex Ovechkin scored the game-tying goal, and the Pittsburgh Penguins’ Evgeni Malkin scored the game-winner eight minutes later to help lift the Russians to their second World Championship title in three years. Phoenix Coyotes prospect Viktor Tikhonov led Russia and all skaters in tournament scoring with eight goals and eight assists for 16 points, a plus-10 rating and 25 shots on goal in 10 games.
Haula, one of the Minnesota Wild’s rising young stars, notched a negative-1 rating and just one shot on goal in the effort. In six games, the 2009 seventh round pick collected an assist, a negative-2 rating and 10 shots on goal. Haula joined Team Finland after a 13 game playoff run in which he tied Zach Parise and Mikael Granlund for the team lead in goal scoring with four apiece and added three assists for seven points and a plus-2 rating.
While the Wild’s postseason plans were cut short, and the WHC tournament wasn’t exactly his best performance, there’s no question Haula is headed into a big offseason for his development. There’s every bit the chance that the former Minnesota Golden Gopher can walk right into training camp as third line center, but he has to earn it at the same time. It all starts tomorrow with workouts, skating, puck handling and conditioning. This guy could be an interesting one to watch come September.
In other news, Wild prospect Zack Mitchell and the Ontario Hockey League’s Guelph Storm are in the middle of a bitter battle with the Western Hockey League’s Edmonton Oil Kings to see which team will be crowned the 2014 MasterCard Memorial Cup champs. As of this writing, Mitchell has an assist and a plus-1 rating as the Storm trail the Oil Kings 3-2 late in the second period.