Minnesota Wild: A healthy, confident Marco Rossi eyes roster spot

Marco Rossi, a first-round selection in the 2020 NHL Entry Draft, says he is '100% healthy' after a year of medical adversity. (Photo by Vaughn Ridley/Getty Images)
Marco Rossi, a first-round selection in the 2020 NHL Entry Draft, says he is '100% healthy' after a year of medical adversity. (Photo by Vaughn Ridley/Getty Images) /

Marco Rossi doesn’t intend on making his latest visit to Minnesota a short one.

“My goal is to make the NHL,” Rossi said in a media availability session during the Tom Kurvers Prospect Showcase on Tuesday. “ I know how good I am and know I can make it. I have to prove myself to (the Wild). You have to earn that spot.”

Rossi, who turns 20 next week  was selected ninth overall by the Wild in last year’s NHL Entry Draft feels he is a more mature and maybe even motivated player than a year ago.

Most important, he is healthy.

The Austrian-born center tested positive for COVID-19 last November and then was diagnosed with an inflammation of the heart. The latter came during a pre-training camp physical with the Wild and ended his hockey season. He eventually returned to Austria to recover and did not return to the ice until this summer.

He also was part of the Team Austria squad in an Olympic qualification tournament in late August.

“I feel strong. I would say I feel better than before because I had such a long time to recover and to work on everything – my good things, my bad things,” Rossi said. “I think I have much more confidence than before and I can see it out there (on the ice). I  just feel more comfortable now. “

Rossi is one of 26 players on the Wild’s roster for a series of practices and also scrimmages with the Chicago Blackhawks at the TRIA Rink this week. The scrimmages are Sept. 17 and 19 and open to just Wild season ticket holders. The games will also be streamed on the Wild’s You Tube page.

The Wild open training camp next week and the team’s first preseason game is Sept. 25 at St. Louis.

Rossi said the mental aspects was perhaps the toughest part of his recovery as he was limited in physical activity – at times a daily walk when he had to make sure his heart rate did not climb too high. Then there was the diagnosis of the heart issue.

“Of course I was scared,” Rossi said. “When you hear the doctors saying, ‘We don’t know if you’re ever going to reach your goals, or ever going to be the same like you were before.’ Then of course you are going to be afraid.”

Rossi added that he was hesistant when he was cleared to begin workouts,

“ At the beginning thinking too much about my heart,” Rossi said. “The first time the doctor told me you’re fine I really didn’t realize it that, ‘OK, now I can go 100% again.’ It was really weird for me because when you go hard and maybe you feel something a little bit (in his heart) . It was scary right away.’

His mindset and confidence improved as he was subjected to medical tests every five days in the early stages of his return to the ice.

“I had  so many questions (at first),”  Rossi said. “now I feel so . I know I’m  better than before and  that gives me so much more confidence.

“It is a good feeling too and for my mindset that,  ‘OK, now I’m 100% back.’.”